Rich Turkey Gravy

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Turkey Gravy is such an anticipated part of a turkey dinner, but what do you do when you’re only roasting a breast or a thigh? You’ll still need drippings, a rich broth and thickener to make a Thanksgiving-worthy gravy. Don’t worry. With a little forethought and some advance preparation, it’s really not hard at all.

First, if possible, buy your turkey breast (or thigh) whole and have your butcher bone it out for you, but ask him to reserve the bone so you can use it for your stock.

Then purchase about a pound and a half of turkey neck(s.) (You could also use wings but they’re much fattier and don’t yield as much tender meat.)

Begin by making a rich turkey stock. To end up with a beautiful, rich dark gravy, roast the turkey parts (necks or wings and the reserved bone from your turkey) with the vegetables before simmering in water. This vastly improves the color and flavor of your stock, which is key to a delicious turkey gravy. It’s a good idea to do this step in advance of making your dinner.

Even though you won’t have as much in the way of drippings as you would with a whole bird, if you’ve used a smaller baking dish or pan, the drippings will have caramelized just enough to add some serious “umami” goodness to your gravy. Don’t discard them! If you’ve used a glass baking dish, like I did, just pour about 1/2 cup of boiling water over the drippings, scraping them with a wooden spoon to loosen them. If you’ve used a metal pan, you can deglaze the pan with some water or broth in the traditional way, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring the liquid over a low heat until the fond from the pan is liquified in the hot broth.

All that’s left to do is to heat your stock, add thickener (tapioca flour) to the cooled drippings,and shake in a jar to eliminate lumps, then add this to the stock, and voila! If desired, add in the shredded dark meat from the necks, and serve.

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1. Make stock: Place about a pound and a half of turkey necks, 1 large onion, cut into wedges, 3 carrots, cleaned and cut, and 2 stalks of celery into a baking pan. Place into a 400° oven and roast for about 45 minutes, just till turkey neck is cooked and vegetables are beginning to brown around the edges.

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2. Remove turkey and vegetables from the roasting pan and place them into a large saucepan, along with any bones. Cover with water. Add a teaspoon of whole peppercorns, a couple of sprigs each of parsley and thyme (you can use a teaspoon of dried thyme if you don’t have fresh) 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for about two hours, adding more water if necessary.

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3. Strain stock through a fine sieve. Remove meat from turkey bones and reserve; discard bones, vegetables and seasoning.

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Make Gravy: Deglaze roasting pan or baking dish, whichever you have cooked your turkey in. If it’s a glass dish, simply add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the pan, scraping the bottom to incorporate all of the little crusty bits into the liquid.

Pour this liquid into a glass jar. Add 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour, cover with a lid, and shake until there are no lumps. This liquid will not only thicken but add flavor and a rich color to your gravy.

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1. Heat the reserved stock to a simmer. While whisking, pour the tapioca/drippings mixture into the broth, continuing to cook and stir over low heat just until thickened. Add reserved shredded turkey neck meat if desired and serve your delicious turkey gravy!

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