Northeast Times

Gobblin’ Good Turkey Gravy

Freez­ing your tur­key drip­pings makes for some de­li­cious leftovers.

Dear Food­ies and Cooks, it’s al­most Thanks­giv­ing, so let’s talk tur­key. “Gobble, gobble,” loosely trans­lated means “Get out your roast­ing pans and let the cook­ing be­gin.”

Fore­most on the hol­i­day menu is the tur­key, a nat­ive Amer­ic­an bird that de­lights so many on this spe­cial day. But why does this fest­ive hol­i­day food source suf­fer so much in­dig­nity and slander? It’s cer­tainly not a com­pli­ment to be called a “tur­key.”  Dic­tion­ary defin­i­tions sug­gest that a tur­key is someone who lacks good judg­ment, a booby, a ding-dong, a half-wit, a ninny and the list goes on. To quit a habit “cold tur­key” is the most un­pleas­ant way.  

De­ris­ory tur­key ex­pres­sions are le­gion, but the tur­key’s feath­ers aren’t ruffled be­cause he knows that he is the guest of hon­or on Thanks­giv­ing Day. In­deed, if Ben Frank­lin had his way, the tur­key, not the bald eagle, would be our na­tion­al bird.  Thank­fully, eagle en­thu­si­asts won out, and in 1783 the bald eagle be­came the na­tion­al em­blem for the United States. Can you ima­gine? In­stead of eagles on the back of some of our mon­ies, we’d be look­ing at tur­keys.  Would this have changed the name of our ho­met­own foot­ball team? Fly Tur­keys, Fly!? Some years, though, that chant seemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

Oven-roast­ing, the tra­di­tion­al meth­od of cook­ing the tur­key, al­most seems pass&ea­cute;.  Al­though I am a die-hard, con­ven­tion­al, oven-roast­ing tur­key cook, many people now fry, grill or even boil the bird. Ben Frank­lin thought that elec­tro­cut­ing the tur­key pro­duced a tasti­er bird by mak­ing it “un­com­monly tender.” Please, do not try this meth­od at home. 

Tur­key gets some people up in the morn­ing (the cook), but it also puts people to sleep after din­ner. Trypto­phan is found in tur­key and makes you want to zzzzzzzzzzzz.

To stuff or not to stuff…. That is the ques­tion on the minds of many cooks this Thanks­giv­ing Eve.  I think stuff­ing gives the tur­key fla­vor and viceversa.  Some people like to bake stuff­ing as a side dish in a cas­ser­ole, or serve in­di­vidu­ally in muffin tins. Every­one looks for­ward to his or her spe­cial re­cipe. Re­gard­less of how you make your stuff­ing, it’s a giv­en that it will show up on the Thanks­giv­ing table. 

It’s enough of a job to get the tur­key on the table. But can you make gravy, too?  Yes, and it’s easy. The fol­low­ing gravy dresses the stuff­ing at my house.

TUR­KEY GRAVY

¼ cup pan drip­pings   

2 cups hot wa­ter   

5 Tb­sp. flour dis­solved in ½ cup cold wa­ter

1 tsp. Kit­chen Bou­quet or Gravy Mas­ter

Salt and Pep­per to taste

-Re­move tur­key from pan and pour off ex­cess drip­pings, leave about ¼ cup in the pan.

-Add 2 cups of wa­ter and bring to boil, stir­ring while scrap­ing tur­key bits from bot­tom of pan. 

-Have ready a jar with a tight-fit­ting lid.   

-Add cold wa­ter and then flour to the jar and shake vig­or­ously un­til all lumps are dis­solved.

-When drip­pings and ad­ded wa­ter are sim­mer­ing in the pan, slowly add flour and wa­ter mix­ture, whisk­ing con­stantly.

-Make sure to mix and stir con­tinu­ally at the ex­act place where flour mix­ture is poured in­to pan.  

-Con­tin­ue to whisk a few minutes un­til gravy thick­ens evenly.

-Stir in Kit­chen Bou­quet and ad­just season­ings.

Wheth­er you like your stuff­ing ‘wit or ‘wit­out the gravy, save any ex­tra pan drip­pings. Just re­move the tur­key from the pan, leav­ing enough drip­pings to make your gravy. Pour any ex­tra drip­pings in­to a bowl.  Re­fri­ger­ate the drip­pings bowl overnight and you can eas­ily re­move the fat that will rise to the top by the next morn­ing. What re­mains is con­gealed juices from the tur­key – tur­key es­sence. I then cut the gelat­in-like re­mains in­to ice cube-size pieces and freeze them in a plastic bag for use at an­oth­er time.  These cubes, popped in­to soups, ve­get­ables, rice, stir-frys, sauces or just about any­thing that needs ad­ded fla­vor, are at your dis­pos­al.

Thanks­giv­ing is a good time of the year to re­flect and to be grate­ful for what we have, or in some cases, for what we don’t have. Thanks for no lumps in the gravy. Amen.

Whatever you’re thank­ful for, Happy Thanks­giv­ing!

Eat well, live long, en­joy!   

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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