The only way to get a good gravy is to make it yourself. But when you have a turkey to carve and potatoes to mash and vegetables to plate, taking 5 minutes to make fresh gravy and actually get it to the table hot is a legitimate challenge. This is why so many people turn to jarred and dehydrated forms of gravy. Not wanting to succumb to remade gravy, I set out to perfect a gravy that I could make ahead of time.
It does take advance planning and some effort but the results are worth it. Make ahead gravy guarantees delicious results while reducing stress at dinner time and what can be better than that?
Step One: Up to 3 months in advance, Roast some chicken, chicken parts, or a turkey. The goal here is to collect as many droppings as possible so I usually roast chicken thighs with a whole chicken which produces a good amount of delicious drippings. (plan a meal around your meat, but reserve the drippings because that is what we are after. I usually make chicken salad, sandwiches or soup with the meat.)
Step Two: Pass the liquid through a sieve or cheesecloth to produce a clean liquid free from bits and pieces that have no business in our gravy.
Step Three: If you have a gravy separator, use it now to remove the fat and set then portion out your drippings. I like to seperate drippings in 3-4 tablespoon portions. If you do not have a separator, get one. If you don’t like taking orders, you can make do without one. To do so, refrigerate the drippings in a glass bowl. After the drippings set, the fat will rise to the top. Once you have a hard layer of fat on the top, skim and discard the fat. The drippings will have hardened and be gelatinous. Separate the drippings into portions.
At this stage, you have 2 choices. Freeze your drippings and then use to make your gravy on demand. Or finish the full recipe and then freeze.
Step Four: Place about a 1/4 cup of drippings into a small sauce pan on low and let it melt back into a liquid. Add 2 cups of good quality chicken broth add bring bring to a simmer over medium heat. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water and then stir in to the broth. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper.
Step five: Place gravy into a container and place in fridge OR freezer. (If Freezing, defrost in advance of using) The gravy will form into the shape of the container and need to be reheated over a low heat. (kind of like Jell-o) Once it starts to break down, I like to use an immersion blender to get it back to its original, silky consistency and serve. I have a mini crock pot that I transfer it to which keeps it nice and hot for hours.
OK, OK…It seems like a lot of work. But its really not and it is so much better than using that stuff from a jar that contains all those things we can’t pronounce. And by making it in advance you have no big mess to clean up, no last minute rushing, it has already been seasoned to perfection, and it’s low fat because you had the time to skim all that nastiness off while preserving the flavor. If you’ve had my gravy…you’d understand why its time to ditch the pre-made packaged stuff and make your own from scratch.