Which traditional Thanksgiving foods can you not do without? Is it the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes? Where I come from, it's almost criminal if a Thanksgiving turkey doesn't have a side of gravy. How else are you going to deal with Aunt Helen's dry bird?
This year, offer to make the gravy and learn a skill that can be utilized all year-round — make this gravy with chicken, too! Because I believe tossing out the vitamin- and flavor-packed giblets that come with your turkey or chicken is kissing goodbye the opportunity for a proper giblet gravy.
This recipe benefits greatly from the drippings of a roasted turkey or chicken. It is assumed that if you're making gravy, you're also making a bird and from that bird you will get drippings; I usually get a little under 1/4 cup from a 3 to 4-pound chicken, and a little under a cup from a large 16-pound turkey.
If you've never harvested drippings from a roasted bird before, we can help. After you remove the bird from the roasting pan, pour what remains in the pan into a heatproof measuring cup. Let this mixture stand for a few minutes and you will notice that the fat floats to the top, and the drippings settle on the bottom. Pour off the fat (save it for roasting vegetables!) and use the drippings for your gravy.
The recipe below is for a turkey gravy. For chicken, halve the recipe and use chicken giblets instead.
A Proper Giblet Gravy
Makes about 2 cups
2 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
A few cracks of black pepper
Giblets from a turkey (neck, liver, gizzard, sometimes heart)
A few sprigs thyme
1/2 cup drippings from a roasted turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons flour
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the celery, carrot and onion for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onions are soft and beginning to color. Add a few cracks of freshly ground pepper.
Add the giblets, thyme and enough water to cover. Raise the heat and bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about an hour. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Strain the broth into a bowl. Transfer the cooked giblets to a cutting board and discard the sprigs of thyme. Remove as much meat from the neck as possible, then discard the neck bones and neck fat. Chop the neck meat and giblets into very fine pieces.
In a medium skillet, heat the pan drippings over medium low heat. Add the chopped giblets and sauté for a minute. Add enough flour to make a thick roux, a teaspoon at a time. Allow the roux to cook and darken for a minute. Add the reserved broth 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly into the roux.
Continue adding broth as the gravy cooks and thickens. If necessary, add additional water to bring gravy to proper consistency. Taste for seasoning and serve.
- This recipe is for a turkey gravy. For chicken, halve the recipe and use chicken giblets instead.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published January 2009.
(Image credits: Sara Kate Gillingham)