Search:
 
 

Gravy! (And a Book Release)

Turkey Gravey

Photo by Amy Chan

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and I have a book release today with the appropriate title of Last Chance Family.  It’s got an orphaned girl, a confused gambler, a golden-hearted veterinarian, and lots and lots of cats.  You can’t go wrong with cats and orphans and vets when it comes to holiday books — let me tell you.  I’ll get around to telling you more about the book, but this is Thanksgiving week after all and there are more important matters at hand — like cooking. 

So, I thought I’d bypass the usual book hype and get down to something important, like giving y’all a lesson in gravy-making. You’d be surprised how much a writer can learn from the process of making gravy. Let me elucidate:

Step 1: Plan ahead. Making gravy takes all day. It’s not a flash in the pan sort of thing. You start your gravy by throwing a lot of random (and mostly uneatable) stuff it in a pot and simmer it for a long time. You take the giblets and neck from the bird and put them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Put them on a low simmer and cover. The stock you make by doing this becomes the body of the gravy. Be sure you make enough of this stock, otherwise you’ll end up with not enough gravy for your Thanksgiving crowd.

 Step 2: Take the bad stuff out of your gravy. About the time the turkey is ready to come of the oven, you’ll need to strain the stock and remove the neck and giblets. Throw the neck away. No one wants that stuff in their gravy. If you like giblets, dice up the liver and heart and return them to the stock, otherwise, throw that stuff away too. You only want the good stuff in your gravy. This is important! Pour your stock in a liquid measuring cup so you know how many cups you’ve got. Put the stock aside for a moment.

Step 3: Add the secret ingredient: You’ve come to the secret part of making good gravy. You need grease. Grease is to gravy is what conflict is to story. If you don’t have enough grease, you get crappy gravy. So, for each cup of stock you’ll need two tablespoons of the turkey drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan. Make sure those drippings are really heavy on the grease. The grease is what keeps the gravy from getting lumpy. Put the right proportion of grease into a skillet.

Photo by Amy Chan

Photo by Amy Chan

Step 4: Thicken the plot. . .er stock: You need to turn up the heat on this gravy and add flour, which is the stuff that thickens your gravy sort of like a couple of good plot twists. For each tablespoon of grease, you’ll need two tablespoons of flour.

Step 5: Screw up your courage: Now comes the hardest step in making gravy. You must cook the roux made of grease and flour until it is almost burned. It will undoubtedly stick to the bottom of the pan, and start to smoke, and you’ll be absolutely certain that no one in their right mind will ever want to eat this gravy. And you’ll be sure that this whole roux-cooking exercise is taking way too long. But have no fear. The trick to making gravy is to be utterly fearless when it comes to browning the roux. If you chicken out, your gravy will be pale and uninspiring.

Photo by Amy Chan

Photo by Amy Chan

Step 6: A Big finish. We’ve come to the flash in the pan moment. This is where you take all that grease and flour and combine it with your stock. When the roux is really dark brown, pour the stock into the frying pan. You should have a very long spoon when you do this, and stand back, because the stock hitting the hot skillet will make a big whoosh of steam. It’s mildly terrifying when this happens but incredibly satisfying.

Step 7 Let it simmer for a while: You’ve done all the hard stuff, now you just need to reduce the heat and simmer for a while, stirring occasionally, until the gravy is thick.

  I hope this helps y’all with your holiday gravy-making. And while you’re enjoying the holiday, I highly recommend my latest book, Last Chance Family. Here’s the blurb and cover.

 * * * *

Last Chance Family cover_lo resMike Taggart has always been willing to take a gamble. But these stakes are just way too high – there’s no way he’s prepared to become a legal guardian to his five-year-old niece. His only option is to head from Las Vegas to Last Chance to sort things out as quickly as possible. Problem is, he arrives to find an inconsolable little girl, her sick cat, and a gorgeous veterinarian he can’t get out of his mind.

Charlene Polk has two talents: healing sick critters and falling in love with the wrong men. Mike has trouble written all over him, but she can’t leave him in the lurch. And the more time she spends with the sexy high roller, the more she sees that this ready-made family is the best stroke of luck they’ve ever had . . .

 

 

26 responses to “Gravy! (And a Book Release)”

  1. Kim Law says:

    Well, it sounds good, but you lost me at…You take the giblets and neck from the bird 🙂

    I don’t take giblets and necks out of anything. I did once. Kind of. It was the first time I’d seen such things up close and personal. There was screaming, possibly slinging parts through the air, and then absolute pleading with my then-fourteen-year-old son to pick it up and get it out of my kitchen.

    Yes, I know, I should be ashamed. I can cook lots of things, but not whole turkeys. Is there a name for fear of touching raw poultry? Because I think I have it. I also can’t pull poultry off the bone. Just…no.

    And by the way, those three-pound boneless turkey breasts that come in a net (which I can use to pick up the bird) and have a little packet of gravy tucked into the package with it are quite tasty.

    Congrats on your new release!

    0
    • I totally get the aversion to raw poultry, Kim. Did you ever see that Friends episode where Monica puts the raw turkey on her head? It still gives me the shivers!

      0
      • Kim Law says:

        Oh, yes. And it still gives me shivers too! Though my brain registers the fact it would have been a fake turkey, so it wasn’t as bad for me as it could have been 🙂 A rubber turkey feels far different than a real, raw one!! ewww. I got shivers just typing raw turkey.

        0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Ha! So funny. I’ve never had any aversion to raw poultry. However, I was totally grossed out by my mother’s stories about how they would slaughter their chickens. One of her favorite expressions was “hopping around like a chicken without its head.” When Mom said this she meant it literally. 😀

      0
  2. Wow! I never knew. My gravy is usually from a jar or if I’m getting fancy, some turkey juice boiled with some flour. I have sooooo much to learn!

    Thank you, Hope, and huge congrats on the book release! I’ll be at your FB party later today : )

    0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      I should also point out that you can make perfectly fine gravy using chicken stock from out of a can. Of course chicken gravy on a turkey is kind of weird in my mind. But if you don’t want to bother boiling the parts, just use the drippings and some chicken stock. You’ll still get better gravy than the stuff that comes in the packet. And, really, it’s not hard to make good gravy. It’s all inn the roux.

      0
  3. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Great gravy making lesson, Hope. Exactly how I make it, but at some point I add salt. I don’t see your cover and blurb. I don’t know if it’s the site or you forgot to add it with all that’s on your mind. But I’ll definitely check it out on Amazon.

    0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      WordPress (or my own fumbling around with it) strikes again. I did put my book and the blurb on the draft I swore I saved. But apparently not. All my tags disappeared too. But I fixed it right away.

      As for salt in the gravy… I don’t add salt because I put bacon slices over the top of the turkey when I roast it. This creates saltier drippings and gives the turkey a delicious flavor. Everything is better with bacon, in my opinion. Anyway, in addition to the giblets, I always break up the bacon slices and put that into the gravy too. My mom used to dice up a hard boiled egg and throw that in the gravy as well. The bacon gives the gravy plenty of salt. People might want to put in some pepper as well. I also used Paprika on the turkey and this spices of the drippings. You’ll notice from the photos that my turkey gravy has a slightly red color. That’s from the paprika.

      0
  4. June Love says:

    Hope, I grew up making gravy. All different kinds: milk gravy, fried chicken gravy, red gravy…but, then I’m from Mississippi. When I was growing up everything had gravy on it.

    Like Kim, I didn’t do the neck, giblets, or anything like that. I drew the line at that. I don’t make gravy that often these days, and when I do, I cheat and use a mix or a jar. I can’t tell you the last time I made it from scratch. One thing my grandmother preached was if you’re going to make gravy and make it right, then you must use a cast iron skillet. Of course, she said that about cornbread, biscuits, fried chicken, etc. The cast iron skillet…another staple of the south.

    Your post has me wanting “real” gravy.

    0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      June,

      Yeah, I learned to make gravy from a bunch of southern women. 🙂 I used to agree about the cast iron pan, but I have to admit that my cast aluminum pan works just about as well, and it’s so much easier on my wrists because it weighs a fraction of that old cast iron skillet that I finally retired several years ago.

      0
  5. Tamara Hogan says:

    Hope, it’s always so interesting to see all the different ways people make gravy. Thanks for showing us yours! We don’t bother with roux, but simply pour about two cups of a well-shaken flour/water mixture into the turkey drippings and stir until thickened. Maybe it’s Scandinavian?

    This year, for the first time, my sisters and I made the gravy without input from Mom (she’s snowbirding). While edible, it was…not the most stellar batch we’ve ever eaten. 😉

    0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Isn’t it funny how two different people can do exactly the same thing and it turns out different. My mother taught my aunt how to make gravy. But I gotta tell you when Mom made gravy it was only merely okay. When Aunt Annie made gravy it was spectacular. 🙂

      0
  6. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Great metaphor!

    My gravy recipe is even easier. Get in the car, drive to my favorite restaurant, and enjoy! Other people are just simply more skilled at gravy than I am.

    0
    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Ha! That is a very easy recipe. It’s also very healthy to know one’s own limits. As mentioned before, my Mom eventually learned that it was best, all the way around, to let Aunt Annie handle the gravy. 🙂

      0
  7. Rita Henuber says:

    Happy Book birthday.
    We make gravy the same! Grease is an all important ingredient.
    Wishes to everyone for a safe and peaceful holiday.

    0
  8. I LOVE GRAVY!!!! Your book sounds amazing, Hope! Can’t wait to get it and I’ll post everywhere! CONGRATS!!!! Now I’m hungry. I am now a gluten free vegan and it’s just not the same. Good! But not the same.

    0
  9. Love the tips, Hope! I never would have thought to brown it until it’s basically burning, but I bet that adds a ton of flavor. And bacon…. yum! Happy book birthday!!

    0
  10. Vivi Andrews says:

    Congrats on the new release, Hope! And thanks for the advice on gravy making. I’m on gravy duty this year, so I’ll definitely be using these tips! 🙂

    0
  11. Elisa Beatty says:

    I’m the resident gravy-maker in the extended family….and made it even when I was a vegetarian, and even now when I know I’m gluten-intolerant and there’s been stuffing inside the bird.

    And, YES, those drippings in the bottom of the turkey pan are the key to the flavor.

    But my dog would like to point out that you missed one important step with those giblets: they can also be chopped up and mixed with kibble so the furry friends can enjoy their Thanksgiving, too!

    0

Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Conference was amazing – seeing the Rubies, watchig Darynda emcee for the fabulous...
  • Elisa Beatty: I really hope we’ll see you there!!!
  • Tamara Hogan: What amazing pictures! Everyone looks like they’re having such a great time. I tried to enjoy...
  • Bev Pettersen: So nice seeing these pics. But my heart gave a little twinge at seeing the Omegas and knowing it was...
  • Darynda Jones: This was such a fun conference! I love seeing the Rubies and had a great time welcoming the Omegas to...

Archives