Making gravy for turkey is typically known as buying a can or jar from your grocery store. Heck, I did that for years until I started experimenting. Once I got into making chicken stock, I began to think I could turn it into a gravy… and I did!
Making your own gravy has several advantages…
- Disodium 5′ Guanylate, Disodium 5′ Insoinate, Maltodextrin, Mono and Diglycerides: Those are actual ingredients in store bought gravy. Not in my gravy!
- Healthier: My gravy contains turkey, onion, celery, carrot, herbs, garlic. That’s it!
- Cheaper: It will be slightly more expensive to actually make it, but the cost per cup is significantly lower. Make some for Thanksgiving, freeze until Christmas… just an idea.
This gravy is designed to go in concert with my Smoked Turkey recipe. As such, we are going to smoke it! If you do not have a smoker, you have options:
Add Liquid Smoke: Liquid smoke is a pretty awesome product. It truly is smoke in a bottle, and the best brands, like Colgin, add very few added ingredients. One tablespoon is sufficient for this recipe.
Get a Smoke Tube: Smoke tubes are something all backyard warriors need in their arsenal. They are an excellent way to add smoke flavor to short/medium grill sessions. The one I often use the most is this one.
During the preparation of the turkey, you should have a bag of turkey parts: Spine (from spatchcocking), neck, heart, gizzard, and various skin pieces. If you are not making this gravy for Turkey, or aren’t following my turkey recipe, that is okay. You can replace the turkey with the bones/remains of 1-2 chickens, or no chicken/turkey at all and make it vegetarian. It’ll still be pretty darn good!
In addition, we are going to cut the celery and skinned carrots into 1-2″ pieces, smash the garlic cloves whole, and quarter the onions with skins on. Portion out 2 tablespoons of Ultimate Poultry Rub and 2 dried bay leaves.
Place all the ingredients in a shallow pan. The larger the pan, the more surface area for the liquid and vegetables to pick up smoke.
This is a multi-step process. It starts with the smoke, then the simmer, and finally the thicken.
We are going to begin by setting up our smoker for indirect heating at 225-250 degrees F. If you have a grill or oven (w/ liquid smoke), use the same temperature. Ideally, whatever wood you are using to smoke your turkey (or chicken, or whatever) you will want to use for this gravy.
Start to boil 13 cups of water on the stove. Not 12, or 14? Why 13? Because of evaporation. At the end, after the boil and smoke, we should have about 12 cups left.
Once your smoker is at temperature, place the pan inside. Do not add the water yet. Continue to smoke for 15 minutes, and then the add boiling water. Continue to smoke for 2 hours.
Once the pan has completed smoking, we need to filter out all the solids and strain through a fine mesh strainer, like this one. All of the solids can be discarded at this time.
In a stock pot, we are going to bring the remaining liquid to a boil, and then drop to a simmer for 2 hours, uncovered. The purpose behind this is to evaporate some of the water and make the flavoring of the soon to be gravy more concentrated and robust. If you like even more robust flavor, continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
That sounds like a bad horror movie title – The Thickening. Random thought aside, in order to start to thicken your smoked broth, we will need to portion out at least 2 cups. You could of course make more, but I sometimes like to offer the broth on the table as an alternative to the thickened gravy. The thin broth gets absorbed into the turkey, while the thickened will lay on top. I will then freeze the remaining broth to either make more gravy or drink when I feel ill.
To thicken, we are going to make what’s called “roux” (pronounced roo, not row). Roux is traditionally a 1:2 mix of some fatty liquid (like butter) with general purpose white flour. To make and thicken:
Make the roux: Begin melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, slowly stir in 4 tablespoons white flour. Do not stop stirring/whisking.
Simmer: Simmer the roux for approximately 1 min.
Add the Broth and Salt: Slowly pour 2 cups of our smoked broth into the roux, stirring constantly. Add 1/4 teaspoon table salt and simmer, whisking as much as possible for 5 minutes. It really helps if you have an emulsifier or mechanical whisker to avoid the clumps.
Gluten Free: In order to make this recipe gluten free, substitute the 4 tablespoons of general purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of corn starch.
Fat: You can replace the butter with any various oils like olive, vegetable, coconut, or even bacon fat (mmmmm….).
If you want thicker gravy, create more roux separately with 1 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour (for gluten-free replace 2 tbsp of flour with 1 tbsp of corn starch). Repeat stirring into the gravy. I doubt you would need thicker gravy.
If you made the gravy and think it is weak on flavor, it is likely you didn’t simmer down the broth long enough to concentrate the flavor: Add 1/2 measurements of chicken bullion if available to concentrate the flavor.
This gravy can be whatever you want it to be! If you want more spice flavors, add spices!
- Bag of Turkey bits (Spine, neck, gizzard, heart, skin clippings, etc) If not available, the remains of 1-2 chickens is an excellent substitute.
- 2 Yellow Onions – Quartered with skins on
- 2 Medium Carrots – Skinned and cut 1-2" length
- 1 stalk Celery (Include leaves)
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 2 tbsp Ultimate Poultry Rub
- 2 Whole Bay Leaves
- ¼ tsp Table Salt
- 13 cups Water
- 4 tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 2 tbsp Butter
- ¼ tsp Table Salt
Smoking the Ingredients
- Setup smoker for indirect heat at a temperature of 225 degrees F.
- Mix all ingredients except the water in a large shallow pan. If no pan, a stock pot will work.
- Begin boiling the 13 cups of water on the stove. While that begins to boil, begin smoking all the ingredients in the pan for 15 minutes.
- Once the water begins to boil, pour into pan in the smoker. Smoke for 2 hours.
Finalize the Gravy
- Filter out all the solids through a fine mesh strainer into a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. If you want a stronger more robust flavor, add more time.
- Measure out 2 cups of the liquid.
- To create the roux, in a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and whisk in 4 tablespoons of general all purpose white flour. Let cook for 1 min, do not stop stirring. (To make gluten free, replace the 4 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of corn starch)
- Slowly pour the 2 cups of liquid into the roux, constantly stirring/whisking. Bring to a simmer, add the salt, and continue to cook 5 minutes, stirring as much as possible.
- Take off heat and serve.