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(recipe, Caroline Cummins)
You can make the basic version of this gravy (butter, flour, stock) way ahead of time and heat it up just before serving, or trick it out with last-minute extras like pan drippings. Either way, this gravy is guaranteed to be lump-free and delicious.
- A few Tbsp. pan drippings from a roasted bird, loin, or other cut of meat (optional)
- 4 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 4 Tbsp. flour
- 2 Tbsp. wine, sherry, port, brandy, etc. (optional)
- 2 to 4 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, turkey, or beef), warmed in a saucepan
- ⅓ cup cream (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- If using the pan drippings, drain off the clear juices from a freshly roasted bird or cut of meat into a skillet.
- In a small bowl, cut together the butter and the flour. With your fingers, mash the mixture together into a smooth paste. This is called beurre manié, and it makes for a lump-free gravy.
- Over medium heat, heat the drippings and gradually whisk in the beurre manié until smooth. (If you're not using drippings, heat the butter-flour mixture, stirring, until it starts to melt, then whisk in a bit of stock.) Cook, stirring, for a few minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour.
- Add the alcohol, if using, and then gradually add the remaining stock, whisking all the while. (Stop at 2 cups stock and add more later as needed.) Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring constantly, until the gravy has an even consistency and the desired thickness.
- Whisk in the cream, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a minute or two more, then either serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate until needed.
If you like, start out with a few tablespoons of minced onion or shallot in the pan. For mushroom sauce, sauté sliced mushrooms with the onion or shallot, then proceed with the gravy recipe; use mushroom stock if available. You can also add fresh minced herbs or a bit of dried herbs, such as parsley or thyme.
Read more about Thanksgiving menu planning in "Classic Thanksgiving."