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Secrets to Making Perfect Gravy Slideshow

Secrets to Making Perfect Gravy Slideshow

Skip the store-bought stuff and make your own gravy this Thanksgiving

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Secrets to Making Perfect Gravy

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Gravy is the lifeblood of every Thanksgiving dinner; you slather your turkey with it, top your mashed potatoes with it, and add a few drops to every leftover sandwich you make following the big meal. Gravy is a central part of the holiday meal, and you can impress everyone at the table with some easy steps to the most flavorful gravy ever.

The Thanksgiving table is not complete without a big bowl of gravy, but the store-bought stuff is often loaded with lots of unnecessary preservatives, and homemade gravy tastes much better, too. The best part? It’s really easy to make.

People often get stressed about preparing their own gravy, since it has to happen between the moment the turkey comes out of the oven and when everyone sits down at the table. Luckily, it can be really simple as long as you have a plan going in.

If you’re going through the trouble of roasting a turkey, homemade gravy is a logical and cheap next step, and it’s worth the extra effort. Click on to learn the secrets to making perfect gravy.

Use the Giblets

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Pronounced “jiblets,” giblets are the extra parts (think gizzard, heart, and liver) that are often packaged up with whole fowl. Turkey neck is frequently looped into this same category, but technically it’s not offal. They’re not pretty to look at, and you don’t have to eat them, but giblets are one of the easiest things to flavor your gravy with.

Sear the Giblets

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Flavorful Stock

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Store-bought stock will work just fine (if you don’t have any homemade) for your gravy, but you will want to up the flavor while your turkey roasts. Deglaze the pot you seared the giblets in with some stock and scrape up all of the brown bits. Then heat the stock with chopped carrots, celery, onions, and giblets. If you have leftover herbs from other dishes, tie an herb bundle with some kitchen twine and add it in.

Pan Drippings

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After the turkey comes out of the oven, set it on a carving board to rest and use whatever is left at the bottom of the pan. Separate the fat from the drippings using either a fat separator or a liquid measuring cup. Using a standard measuring cup to separate the fat will take more time than using a separator; stick the cup in the fridge to speed up the process, and spoon the fat off the top.

Thicken the Gravy

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Strain the stock and set it aside for just a moment. Whisk together equal parts flour (or cornstarch) and hot fat to make a roux; cook the roux, whisking until it forms a thick paste; and then add the drippings to the roux.

Scrape the Pan

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Season

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Customize

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Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.


Simple Secrets for Making Great Gravy

Making gravy is a game of choose your own adventure. Pick a stock, pick a fat—pan drippings, pork fat (from the likes of bacon, sausage, or country ham), and butter all work—and select a flavor flair, from booze to herbs. Then put it all together without burning it. It can be one of the simplest Thanksgiving elements to nail…or mess up (hello, scorched roux). So we’re giving you a peek into the playbook of some of the South’s top gravy gurus. Tap their knowledge for your best-dressed bird yet.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Stock

Layer in your flavor, says Cassidee Dabney, the executive chef at the Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. “The stock needs to be running on all cylinders. If you’re making stock for the first time, here’s a quick cheat: Dice a sweet onion in large pieces and sweat in a big pot. Add a few dehydrated mushrooms, bay leaves, and garlic and the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Cover with store-bought low-salt chicken broth and simmer for an hour. Strain and cool.” On Thanksgiving, you can add the bird’s neck, gizzards, and heart to this base stock. “I skip the liver because it can add a metallic taste not everyone likes.”

Consider a vegetable stock, suggests Howard Pickrel, the executive chef at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina. “We always keep a vegetable stock on hand by saving all of our vegetable and herb scraps. We then cover with water and cook down low and slow. This stock will lend itself to most proteins”

Manage the salinity, says Eric Dreyer, the executive chef at Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dallas, Texas. Go for a rich chicken or turkey stock, unseasoned so you can control the saltiness of the gravy. The poultry stock is more palatable and can take on other flavors without overpowering. I like to roast my bones and then add with aromatics/mire poix (herbs, peppercorns, celery, carrot, onion) to an already made stock for more richness.”

Step 2: Make the Roux (without Burning It)

Begin with simple proportions, advises Dabney. “Start with one-part fat to one-part flour to one cup stock (for example, 1 tablespoon of fat to 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 cup of stock).”

If you’re a gravy rookie, consider scaling back on the flour, says Pickrel. “Watch that you are not putting too much flour in and then not cooking it out. This gives you a pasty, raw flavor. If you err on the side of slightly more oil [or fat]—you will find this called a slack roux—it is a lot more forgiving and is easier to get the flour flavor cooked out.”

Don’t rush it, reminds Dreyer. “Watch the heat—slow and low will keep you from burning your roux.”

Prevent lumps. Adding hot liquid to a hot roux will leave you with clumps. “You will want to make sure you are adding a cold liquid to a hot roux,” says Pickrel. “Add your strained stock”—straining prevents particles from the cooking process from entering your gravy—in stages. Divide your stock into three equal parts add the first part and whisk till smooth. Repeat this process two more times.”

And use the right tools, suggests Hunter Evans, the executive chef at Elvie’s in Jackson, Mississippi. “When you first start adding the flour, use a whisk, and add a little at a time. When it’s all added, get a flat wooden spoon to get the flour out of the edges of the pan that a whisk can’t get. Stir continuously and manage the heat. If it’s too hot, it is going to cook uneven and burn in some spots.”

Step 3: Nail the Flavor

Add in tastes of the season. “Depending on what you are pairing the gravy with, enhance it with herbs or finish with a little apple brandy,” Dreyer says. “Sage is a nice fall herb to compliment your gravy.”

Snip from the garden. “Herbs,” Evans says. “Lots of thyme. If you have some fresh rosemary in the garden, you better add it.”

Deglaze with your booze of choice, suggests Pickrel, who uses fat rendered from pork in his gravy. As he sears the meat, “I will use alcohol to deglaze the pan. If I am cooking a protein that is harder to have the flavor penetrate, then I will add fresh herbs to the sauce.”

Go with your gut, says Erik Niel, executive chef and co-owner of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “I’m bad at making things the same way every time. Let your creative flag fly here.”

Time to Troubleshoot!

Uh oh! It’s not thick enough!
Make a cornstarch slurry, says Dreyer. “While gravy is simmering, whisk the slurry (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water) into the gravy. Cook out for 5 minutes and check thickness, add more if desired.”

Uh oh! It’s too thick!
Add stock a bit at a time, says Pickrel. “Never use just water as that will dilute the gravy.”

Uh oh! It’s too salty!
Uh oh is right, says Niel. “First, panic! Then make another batch. Too salty is hard to fix without losing the flavor.”

Uh oh! I burned the roux!
There’s only one solution, according Niel. “Once it’s burnt, it’s burnt. Start over! Just go slow, use low heat, and stir constantly. This isn’t brain surgery but it’s pretty damn important to the whole gravy process.”

Serve It Up in a Showstopping Gravy Boat

You can pick a beauty that won’t break the bank…
Naturalistic designs by the late-nineteenth-century Portuguese ceramist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro remain in production today, including his take on a gravy boat in the form of a cabbage leaf. ($28 us.bordallopinheiro.com)

… Or a vessel to be handed down to the next generation of gravy gurus…
A twenty-two-karat-gold handle and a contemporary, hand-painted pattern render this porcelain stunner by R. Haviland & C. Parlon as much a work of art as a functional vessel. ($810 mottahedeh.com)

…Or any of the other stunners highlighted in Garden & Gun’s October/November 2019 issue.