It wasn’t a proper Thanksgiving or Christmas without Dad showing up early in the day with a couple of armloads of groceries and his knife-roll. (It also wasn’t a holiday meal without Mom reminding Dad she was neither his sous chef, nor his wife, that it was her kitchen, not his restaurant, and if he wanted the butter he could damn well get it out of the fridge himself…)
We had an…interesting…family dynamic.
But, back to the point…
One of the amazing things to come out of those grocery bags were the ingredients for Dad’s homemade turkey gravy. That gravy was, I kid you not, the best part of the dinner. It could have turned an old flip-flop into haute cuisine. I’m not comparing mom’s turkey to a flip flop, but…well…
Dad’s been gone for almost a decade, Mom for almost three, but I still feel their presence, the friendly bickering, and the underlying love for each other that neither knew how to express, when I whip up the gravy each year.
You can make pretty much any type of gravy with this recipe, simply by changing up the type of stock or broth you use. It’s the simple, old-school way that gravy’s been made for hundreds of years.
And it’s still just as good.
Dad Perkins’ Turkey Gravy
(Makes 10-12 generous servings)
1/2 cup (1 stick) Sweet cream butter
1/2 cup AP Flour
4 cups hot homemade turkey stock (below)
2-4 cups boiling water*
Melt your butter in a heavy bottom stock pot over medium heat.
When the foam has cooked off the butter, add flour and whisk vigorously to a smooth paste. This is call a “roux.”
Continue whisking slowly until roux becomes deep brown in color. You know when your roux is done by the roasted nutty smell.
Add hot stock, one cup at a time (the first will create a thick paste…press on) whisking in each until smooth.
Once all your stock is incorporated, keep whisking at a lower simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add hot water (again, a cup at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.
Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
*You can also use milk, just make sure it’s hot. Rule of thumb – never add cold liquid to a hot one (especially milk, as it will curdle.)
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*Simple Turkey Stock
2 whole turkey thighs and/or necks, skin on
Salt and pepper
6 cloves of peeled garlic
2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1/2 cup butter
1 lg. yellow onion, peeled and quartered
4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 lg. Carrots, roughly chopped
1 stalk each: rosemary, sage, thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups of water
Preheat over to 350F
Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper. And roast about 40 minutes, until skin is a deep golden brown.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottom stock pot over medium heat. Add peppercorns and garlic and sauté a couple of minutes, stirring, to infuse the butter. Add onion, celery, and carrots, and sauté until carrots begin to brown.
Add water and bring to a simmer.
Add fresh herbs (whole) and bay leaves.
Add roasted turkey thighs and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by 1/2. Strain your stock and discard the herb, bones, skin, and veggie remnants.
Roughly chop the meat, and return it to the stock (optional, but great for gravy). Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking.