Gravy: the liquified essence of a bird's life. A good one has hints of sunshine, rain, corn mash, and even slaughter. Hyperbole, you think? Never!
My grandmother taught me how to make gravy. Hers was a basic recipe, nothing extra added in, other than the sheer effort it took to make a few gallons of the stuff. That's the catch, you see.
A three-gallon batch of gravy takes on a life of its own. But when the family swells the way that ours has, it is a necessity. So now, my job at Thanksgiving is to concoct an oozy brown lava that, on the plate, flows generously between all the disparate food groups, tying the meal together in a harmony of flavorful sensations not to be duplicated for another twelve months.
Below is my slightly tongue-in-cheek recipe followed by a bunch of gorgeous gravy containers I just listed in the shop.
Basic Recipe for 40 cups of Gravy
1. Roast three turkeys. (Yes. You can read more about that here.)
2. Drain the amber juices from the roasting pan into a large container and let the liquid separate. This is rough work, manhandling a hot turkey in a large hot pan. If you wear long sleeves, they'll get stained with grease. If you wear short sleeves, you will burn your arms. Either way, you're sacrificing something, which your children will never appreciate but which your mother does because she's been there and she knows that burned arm hairs and ruined cashmere is a part of motherhood.
3. In the biggest pan you've got, melt a shit ton of butter. Add in an equal amount of flour. Stir until the roux is brown. Keep the flame around medium-low.
4. Tell your nephew to bring you a glass of Chardonnay and while you sip it, slowly add in the separated broth, a cup at a time, until each cup is fully incorporated.
5. Add in the neckified broth and the gibletized puree. Yes, we believe in beak-to-tail cooking and we're proud of it. (Not really. I have to fight back the gag reflex every year.) Stir forever and ever. This is a force march. You and the whisk are the Japanese and the gravy is the British and it's 1942 and there is no pity.
6. As the gravy thickens, add in whole milk that's been warmed first. Cold liquid is bad and makes the giblet bits stick together in annoying clumps like insecure 7th graders in a shopping mall.
7. Add in salt. One handful will probably do ya, but toss cautiously while tasting. I like French salt because my gravy needs one classy ingredient to counteract that neck broth. Oh, shoot, who am I kidding? We are farm folk deep down and one cannot fight one's DNA.
8. Stir while telling your nephew to bring you another glass of Chardonnay. Stir while telling him to get his butt in the living room and kiss his great aunts or you won't look the other way when he throws rocks in the pond. Stir while your sisters fret over unimportant dishes like peas and rolls. Stir while your dentist brother carves each turkey to within an inch of its life (pun intended). Stir while the in-laws stand around making vague offers to help.
9. During grace, add in the secret ingredient while all heads are bowed. (And you thought the neck broth was the secret ingredient, didn't you.) Then thank God for giving you upper body strength and for granting you a grandmother who lovingly passed down her cooking secrets.
10. Cajole that velvety mass into something clean. Reap the compliments. This year I'm serving mine in that fancy white vintage tureen in the photo.
If you are in need of gravy expertise, email me. If you are in need of gravy vessels, look below. I have a whole array I've been collecting for ages. They're new in the shop!
If you don't need a thing from me, please accept my wishes that you and your family have a very special day together, necks and gizzards and all. -- Mithra
Photos by Renn Kuhnen
It was so nice to see you this holiday week but can we hang out other times too? Like next week? Or in the middle of February when we both need each other's company? Sign up here for my weekly email and you'll never miss a post: