Most recipes use flour or cornstarch to thicken gravy, but a number of years ago there was an interview on NPR with cooking guru Shirley Corriher who mentioned that her mother used to thicken their Thanksgiving gravy with uncooked stuffing. And not only that, it was also the best gravy she remembered eating.
Is it really possible to use stuffing to thicken gravy? And, does it taste good? We decided to test it and find out!
The Original Tip
During an NPR interview, cooking guru and James Beard award winner, Shirley Corriher, talked about how her mother used to use stuffing, instead of flour or cornstarch, to thicken their Thanksgiving gravy. While she doesn't mention specifics, we assume she's referring to dry stuffing mix that hasn't been soaked in liquid, rather than fully cooked stuffing.
→ Listen to the original tips: Talking about Turkey with Shirley Corriher on NPR
The Testing Method
First, I used The Kitchn's recipe to make gravy, though I modified it by adding two extra cups of stock so it would be really thin. I used packaged stuffing mix, and ground about one cup into fine breadcrumbs.
Since I started the gravy by making a roux, I cooked it until I was sure it wouldn't thicken any further. Then I added the ground stuffing mix. I started by stirring 1/4 cup of the ground mixture into the gravy, let it come to a boil and cook for a few minutes. It appeared to thicken very, very slightly, but the gravy still didn't have the thickness I'd hoped for.
I continued to cook the gravy, adding one tablespoon of ground stuffing mix at a time (using a total of four tablespoons), until I reached a thicker consistency.
Can you guess how it turned out? The results were both surprising, and also somewhat as I expected.
Thickness: Yes, you can use dry stuffing mix to thicken gravy! And, not only will it thicken the gravy, but the stuffing breadcrumbs also give it a really great texture. This is what I expected.
Flavor: What I didn't expected was to make one of the most delicious gravies I have ever tasted! Most stuffing mixes are infused with herbs and seasoning, so that was a nice addition to the gravy. And, this was far more flavorful than gravy thickened with flour or cornstarch.
Verdict: This is a mind-blowing tip!
While stuffing mix proved to be a helpful and flavorful way to thicken gravy and add texture, this version may not be for everyone. This method produces a textured gravy that feels very rustic. It's thick and hearty, with comforting bits of stuffing throughout. So if you prefer a smooth, refined gravy, you'll want to stick with using flour or cornstarch as a thickening agent.
While we often advocate seasoning with salt and pepper as you cook, this is one time when it's best to wait until the end. Since most stuffing mixes are infused with herbs and seasoning, you won't need to add very much salt to the gravy.