Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting A Head Start

I'll have a post tomorrow afternoon to help you cope with pre-Thanksgiving stress. In the meantime, here's an adaptation of something I posted last year.

Anything you can do now to minimize what you have to do on Turkey Day is a plus. One of my favorite tricks is Do-Ahead Gravy. Not only is it one less thing to do on the big day, it also provides the fixings for an additional stress-free meal. And OMG, does it make some fantabulous gravy!

Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy


2-3 pounds chicken or turkey wings
1 red onion, sliced and quartered
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2  carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces (bonus points if you can score carrots with the long green tops)
4 cups turkey or chicken broth (see note below)
4 cups water
3 large fresh sage leaves
2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup flour or cornstarch
Meat juices from roast wings


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large shallow roasting pan (or cookie sheet), place wings, onion, celery, and carrots. Roast 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until wings turn a deep golden brown. I like to lightly sprinkle the wings with Cajun seasoning to help them attain that golden brown color.

2.  When wings are done, transfer along with cooked vegetables from roasting pan to a large stockpot. Add broth, 4 cups water, and sage leaves. Set aside.

3.  Place roasting pan on top of cooktop or stove burners. Add wine to roasting pan and heat to a low boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, about 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1/2 cup. Transfer wine mixture to stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, about an hour or so. Have a drink of the leftover wine to fortify yourself.

4.  Strain liquid in saucepot into another pot. Set aside wings, but discard vegetables. Let broth sit while you shred meat from wings.

5.  Skim fat from broth. Amount of broth should be around four cups. If broth is significantly less than 4 cups, add flavored liquid (chicken broth, white wine, sherry, beer, etc.) to bring volume to 4 cups. If broth is significantly more than 4 cups, return to saucepot and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until volume equals 4 cups. Have another drink of wine.

6.  Heat broth to boiling. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix flour (or cornstarch) with 1/2 cup water until blended. Whisk flour/cornstarch mixture into boiling broth. Boil for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously as it thickens. Remove from heat.

7.  Let gravy cool, then transfer into a container with tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month. Finish off the wine while the gravy is cooling.

8.  Complete gravy after roasting turkey: Add strained and skimmed pan juices from roast turkey to gravy. If you need more gravy, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream or milk, chicken broth, wine, etc. Heat and serve.


I like to make homemade turkey broth from the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. Basically just toss the leftover bones into a large stockpot, throw in some veggies and seasonings, cover with a mixture of water, wine, sherry, chicken broth, or what-have-you, and simmer for a few hours. If you'd like more detailed directions let me know.

I then freeze the resulting broth until next year. I use it as the stock to make the Do-Ahead Gravy.

I also use the broth as the base for turkey soup. Simply add the shredded meat from the wings you used for the gravy, plus your grain or pasta of choice (barley, couscous, farro, orzo, wild rice, egg noodles, etc.). Simmer for 30 minutes or so. You can also add whatever else you like in your soup. For example, I usually saute some mushrooms and garlic, and put them in the pot. I also like to top off the soup with chopped green onions. But it's up to you. Be creative.

Oh yeah - don't forget to open another bottle of wine...

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