Turkey bones for stock and gravy

Roasted Turkey legs and wings for stock and gravyPhoto by Donna Turner Ruhlman

If you’re making Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday and want delicious turkey gravy, make a small batch of easy turkey stock this weekend.  If you have delicious stock on hand, gravy is just a little roux away.  We’ll have ten at the table this year and I’m making a batch of stock this weekend from the above legs and wings.

It’s simple: Roast them till they’re good enough to eat, then try to eat as little as possible before you put them in a pot and bring the water to a simmer.  As soon as it’s at a simmer, put the pot in a 200 degree oven for 8 hours or so (the longer the better—because of some timing issues mine went 16, so I added a little more water).  Then, add sliced onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery, a couple bay leaves, peppercorns (cracked), some tomato paste, bring it back to a simmer then turn the burner to low and cook it for another hour.  Let it reduce until it’s strong and delicious.

Strain it and refrigerate it till Thursday.

To make gravy, collect all the turkey juices from the roasting pan.  I use this excellent fat separator to add the juices to the stock/gravy and I save the fat for making a roux to thicken the stock into gravy.

On Thanksgiving, when I’m read to make the gravy (it can be made at any time during the day), I’ll sweat plenty of minced shallot in some turkey fat or butter.  I may chop up the gizzard and heart if it looks good and cook that with the shallots.  I’ll deglaze this with a cup of white wine, then add my delicious turkey stock, bring it to a simmer and reduce it till it’s even more flavorful.  Then I’ll whisk in the cooled roux and cook it some more till it’s the consistency I want.

I love gravy and always make more for leftovers the next day, turkey sandwiches with hot gravy!  Hungry for it all ready!

Easy Turkey Stock

Yield: 2 quarts stock

  • 2 large turkey drumsticks
  • 2 large turkey wings
  • 2 spanish onion, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut in pieces
  • 4 ribs celery cut in pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, cracked beneath a pan or with mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • fresh parsley and thyme (optional)
  1. Roast the turkey (you should have 5 or 6 pounds/2 or 3 kilos) in hot oven till it looks delicious (see donna pix above).  Put them in a big pot and cover them completely with water, 3 to 4 quarts/liters.  Turn your oven to 180 or 200 degrees F/80 or 90 degrees C.  When the water comes to a boil, put the pot in the oven for 8 hours or over night.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (if you don’t have enough room, remove the turkey, it will have cooked out by now).  Bring to a simmer, then reduce temperature to low, and cook for another hour.  Strain into a clean pot.  Cool, then refrigerate.
  3. Discard fat that’s congealed on top.  Reduce to 1-1/2 to 2 quarts/liters before making gravy.

Thanksgiving Gravy

  • Flour
  • Rendered turkey fat from the roasting pan or butter
  • 2 large shallots minced
  • kosher salt as needed
  • heart and gizzards, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup tasty white wine
  • 1-1/2 to 2 quarts/liters turkey stock (I use a cup/250 milliliters per person, and then a little extra)
  1. In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine a tablespoon each of flour and fat for every cup of stock you have and cook over medium heat till the flour is lightly browned, about ten minutes.  Set this roux aside to cool.
  2. In a 2.5 quart/liter sauce pan or larger, sweat the shallots in turkey fat or butter.  Hit them with a four finger pinch of salt.  Add the gizzards and cook.
  3. Deglaze with white wine then add the stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Whisk in the cooled roux.  A little at a time until you have the desired consistency.  Simmer on medium, skimming gunk off the surface as needed for a half hour or so till the flour cooks out.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary (a tablespoon or two of fish sauce will deepen the turkey flavor).  Remove from the heat an cover until ready to reheat and serve.