Thanksgiving Gravy and Carving!


It’s panic time. Your turkey is out of the oven.  All of the side dishes are sardined into the oven in a masterful attempt to heat white and sweet potatoes, green beans and Brussels sprouts, Aunt Edna’s peanut butter and spam in puff pastry treats, and more.  Now, you think, your work really begins.  You have to make the gravy and carve the turkey before you hear, and not for the first time, “you said dinner was at 2:00, and now it’s midnight.”

What to do? Breathe deeply, think of a place that has palm trees, warm water, sand, and no people.  And dive in.  No, not into the water.  Into the last part of your meal prep.

Let me make this easier for you.  Hopefully, you’ve kept the rest of your planning and cooking simple.  No fois gras. No baking pies when the turkey is in the oven.  And fewer than 17 side dishes.  At this point, your turkey is out of the oven, and resting after it’s time in the oven.  All you have to do is make the gravy and carve the turkey.  Yes, in that order.

Here’s how I’ve helped to make this easier for you.  One is a recipe for turkey gravy.  This is a simple recipe, which can also be easily made gluten-free by using corn starch instead of flour.  But I also tell you how to make turkey stock and how to get the pan drippings from the pan into your gravy.

Another way to reduce your stress is to carve your turkey slowly, methodically, and in your kitchen, not at the table.  Let me re-phrase this: DO NOT CARVE YOUR TURKEY AT THE TABLE!!!  Carving at the table is like going to a demolition derby.  People are there for the crashes, mayhem, and accidents.  Carving at the table is no different.  The dining room has a crowded, often unstable table.  No, I don’t mean your family. You need a solid, stable surface, your kitchen counter, to carve the bird. Trust me. Bad things happen when people watch carving.  It’s not just an old tale.  It’s the law.

So, here are my two turkey carving videos.  One is from Mass Appeal last year.  And the other is my slightly older YouTube video. Take 15 minutes (total!) for these two videos to make your Thanksgiving a wee bit easier and less stressful.  Not only will you be glad you did, but your family and friends will love the less-stressed you.

Happy Thanksgiving, and bon appetit!

Turkey Gravy and More!


This three-part recipe will help you from the moment your turkey comes put of the oven until you’re ready to carve it. It has the gravy, the turkey stock, and removing the drippings from the pan.  One-stop gravy making!

The Gravy

¼ cup flour or cornstarch

1/2 cup water

4 cups turkey or chicken stock

pan drippings from roasted turkey, strained

deglazed drippings and stock from pan (see below)

salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour (or cornstarch) and water.  Whisk to remove any lumps, and set aside.  This is called a slurry.
  2. Place the pan drippings, deglazed bits, and 2 cups of the stock in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Taste the sauce. Add more stock, if you’d like more gravy. But don’t let the gravy become too mild in taste.
  4. As an optional step, you can strain the gravy now if you like it smooth.
  5. With the gravy at a slow simmer, add ½ of the slurry, and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens.  If you’d like it thicker, add more slurry.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Other (optional) ingredients to add to your gravy:

  • 1/3 cup bourbon or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, whisked into the gravy
  • Add the cooked giblets to the gravy after it’s strained

How to make Turkey Stock from Giblets

  1. Take the giblets (neck, liver heart, and gizzards) from the turkey’s cavity, and cover them with 4-5 cups of water.
  2. Add an onion, chopped stalk of celery, and a chopped carrot.  Simmer uncovered for one hour.  If the water level goes down by more than ¼, add cold water and bring back to a simmer.
  3. After an hour, strain the stock.  You can chop up the meats from the stock and add them to your finished gravy

Removing the turkey and deglazing  

  1. Remove the turkey from the pan. Rest it on a warm platter as you make the gravy.
  2. Pour the liquid from the pan into a large bowl or heat-proof pitcher.  Remove the pan drippings that are not stuck in the pan and place these in a separate, 2 quart saucepan.  Set all of these aside.
  3. Once the liquid from the pan has cooled a bit, remove the fat from the top of the liquid, either with a spoon, or a fat-separator. Discard the fat.
  4. Once you have removed the drippings and liquid from the turkey roasting pan, there may be some bits of turkey that are stuck in the pan.  To remove them, place the pan on a burner (or two, if the pan is large enough) on a medium-high heat.  Have a wooden spoon or scraper handy.
  5. Once the pan is quite hot, and almost smoking, add ½ cup (or more, if needed) of the stock or other liquid to the pan.  You want only a small amount of liquid to just moisten the stuck bits in the pan.
  6. With the wooden spoon, scrape up the bits, and put these into a 2 quart saucepan, with the other loose bits that you removed from the roasting pan.