For many, Thanksgiving is a savory pool of hot golden gravy over moist turkey and a mound of freshly mashed potatoes.
But while traditional gravy, which is made by browning flour in the greasy drippings of the turkey, can add a satisfying richness to the plate, it also packs an unhealthy dose of saturated fat.
Luckily, it is easy to make great gravy without the fat. The secret is starting with a flavorful homemade giblet stock, combining it with defatted pan drippings, then thickening it with cornstarch.
The giblet stock can be made with the neck, gizzard and heart (discard the bitter tasting liver). Add turkey wings; they're one of the fattiest parts of the turkey, but using them in the stock adds loads of flavor and you skim the fat away at the end.
Make the stock the day before the big meal so you have enough time to slowly simmer it, which will extract maximum flavor from the bones and giblets. This also leaves you time to chill the stock to make it easy to skim the fat from the surface.
Before roasting the turkey, remove any visible fat with a paring knife. When the turkey comes out of the oven, strain the drippings into a metal bowl, then chill them in the freezer. After about 15 minutes, it should be easy to remove fat.
This recipe for roasted turkey, giblet stock and gravy gives you a method for preparing the bird from start to finish. If you want to use your own roasting recipe, you can still make the giblet stock and use the fat reducing technique for the gravy.
ROASTED TURKEY, GIBLET STOCK AND GRAVY
Start to finish: Start to finish: 4 hours 30 minutes (45 minutes active)
For the stock:
Wings, neck, gizzard and heart (discard the liver) from turkey
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 cups reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
5 sprigs parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
10 black peppercorns
2 cups water
For the turkey:
12- to 14-pound turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 apple, quartered
Several sprigs fresh sage
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup apple cider, for basting
For the gravy:
1/3 cup white wine or apple cider
3 cups giblet stock (as prepared below)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the stock, the day before roasting the turkey use a large, heavy knife or cleaver to chop the turkey wings and neck into 2-inch chunks. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the gizzard, heart, neck and wing pieces, onions and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until well browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the broth, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover the pan and gently simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl (you should have about 3 cups of stock).
Chill the stock. When cold, scrape the fat from the surface and discard. Chill until ready to make the gravy.
To roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 325 F. Place a lightly oiled rack in a large roasting pan.
Remove any visible fat from the turkey. Liberally season the cavity of the bird with salt and pepper. Place the carrot, onion, apple, sage and thyme in the turkey cavity. Tie the drumsticks together.
Season the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Set the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan. Roast the turkey, basting every 30 minutes with apple cider and pan juices, until golden brown, about 2 hours.
After 2 hours, cover with foil and continue roasting and basting until the turkey is done, about another hour. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F.
Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent loosely with foil. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Do not clean the roasting pan.
Meanwhile, to make the gravy, strain the pan drippings though a mesh strainer into a cold metal bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer to chill.
Place the roasting pan over the stovetop, add wine or apple cider and cook over high heat, stirring and scraping up the brown bits, for 1 minute. Strain the liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan.
Add the defatted turkey stock (prepared above). Remove the chilled drippings from the freezer and skim away and discard the fat. Add the drippings to the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and cold water, then whisk into the simmering gravy. Return to a simmer, then season gravy with salt and pepper.
Nutrition information per 4-ounce serving of light and dark turkey plus 5 tablespoons of gravy: 203 calories; 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated); 95 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 33 g protein; 0 g fiber; 75 mg sodium.
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