Monday, November 5, 2012

Make-Ahead Turkey Wing Gravy, Because You Have Better Things to Do

I’m not a big fan of “make-ahead” recipes, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, the less we have to do before dinner, the better. This turkey wing gravy will not only free up valuable kitchen time, but chances are it will look and taste even better than those frantic, last-minute versions.

A world-class gravy, while not a difficult procedure, does require a little bit of finesse and attention to detail. Of course, screaming kids, chatty relatives, and alcohol consumption are the natural enemies of finesse and attention to detail, so for that reason I’m a big fan of this alternative technique.

By the way, as I mentioned at the end of the video, just because you’re making this ahead of time, doesn’t mean you’re throwing away all those amazing pan drippings. While your turkey’s resting (should be at least 30 minutes), pour off the juices, skim off the fat, and add it to your gravy.

For this reason, I’ll generally make the gravy a little thicker than I want, knowing I’m going to dump another cup or so of liquid in later. Speaking of thickness, as with all the sauces we do, you are in complete control. If you want thicker gravy, use more roux and/or reduce further. If you want something a bit lighter, use less roux and/or more stock.

Either way, making the turkey gravy ahead of time is just smart logistics, and frees you up for more important things, like watching football and fishing for compliments. I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
For the stock:
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 large turkey wings
10 cups cold water (1 or 2 to deglaze the pan, and 8 to add to stock)
4 springs thyme
2 cloves garlic, optional

For the gravy:
2-3 tablespoons reserved turkey fat
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
about 6 cups reserved, strained turkey stock
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

View the complete recipe

53 comments:

Food Junkie said...

Since watching your videos I used a roux with the pan drippings from our Canadian Thanksgiving turkey (brined and smoked)along with some stock and it turned out really well. I might try this make ahead version with the next turkey.

Axel14222 said...

Chef, how long ahead of the meal will this keep in the fridge? Is freezing ok?

Anonymous said...

That's what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

where do you get turkey wings?

Cyndi said...

o.m.g, i LOVE turkey gravy!!!! i will be making this, this holiday season! thanks chef john! your recipes never fail to keep me interested in cooking! thank you for your videos! (i hate reading written recipes- for some reason, my mind doesnt process them) but videos i can do! thank you!!!!!

Matt said...

A few questions. I am a noob, but I get to cook the turkey next year. Do I just take the wings off the turkey I buy? We brine, so cut them off before or after the brine? The latter does not leave a huge window... How long can the gravy be stored and how should it be stored? Tupperware and fridge? Freeze it?

Dave Setton said...

Chef John...I love your site. I was wondering whether you have ever thought of putting the instructions as well as the ingredients? I love watching the videos ahead of time, however it would be handy to have the instructions written out so I could print it and brining it in the kitchen, rather than running to my computer to watch the video. Again, my suggestion isn't to replace the videos, I think it would be a great compliment to the videos. Just a thought.

Can't wait to try this. I am doing a deep fried turkey this year and wasn't sure how to do it because I won't have turkey drippings, this may just work perfectly. Can you do this one day ahead?

Chef John said...

Allrecipes is actually typing up all the new recipes and many of the old, but they haven't linked in the blog yet. I have no time to type!

And yes, you can make the "make ahead" gravy ahead of time! ;) A day or 2 is no problem!

Chef John said...

Yes, cut wings off before you brine, but grocery stores usually have turkey wings for sale this time of year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, now I know where to buy my wings.

Anonymous said...

Last year I oven roasted a 22lb turkey (no kidding) using your other roast turkey recipe, it was my first turkey ever, and it turned out FANTASTIC.
I might get a smaller turkey this time and an extra pair of wings for the gravy! Cuz I don't want my turkey to be wingless. Right? That makes sense right..

Chris K. said...

Just make sure you avoid using turkey wings from the right. As in, right-wing turkeys. They're less meaty and tend to lack substance.

gigi said...

I would love to make the gravy this weekend... and freeze?

Anonymous said...

can I also throw in the neck and giblets into the roasting pan or does that change everything?

Chef John said...

yes, except for liver.

Chef John said...

This comment is specifically for a FOX news victim called M in Mex. I wasn't going to reply, since he sounded like a typically bitter, tea-party nut case, but I thought some of you would also be interested in hearing how I came to do FW, so here you go!


It may come as a shock that not all cooks and chefs actually want to open their own restaurant. After seeing the long hours and low profits, many, like me, are more than happy just to cook, and let others have all the headaches.

Even in culinary school, I never had any desire whatsoever to own my own place. Having grown up in restaurants, I knew the deal, and I loved the freedom of moving around as I wanted. Fun times!

After a very success stretch, I retired to try my hand at graphic design and desktop publishing, a huge passion of mine after the 1st Apple PC's came out. This is where I got my tech and computer skills.

After doing that for a while, I was convinced by the Executive Chef at the California Culinary Academy to come and teach at the school, which needed a chef to teach math and computer skills. I did that for 5 awesome years, becoming one of the most popular chefs at the school.

Finally, I left to start what would become YouTube's most successful video recipe channel. I know M in Mex was worried that I'm not doing as well financially as I would have, had I stayed in the culinary field, but you can relax. I'm doing much, MUCH better. And with the recent acquisition by Allrecipes, I now have the luxury to just do what I truly enjoy, cook and film recipe. As much as it will disappoint M in Mex, I've never been happier or more secure.

BTW, Mr. M in Mex, if that is your real name, in case you want more info, feel free to Google my full name. There have been many articles written about me, my journey, and my smashing success as YouTube's most popular culinary instructor.

Now, I'm kind of curious what you do to contribute to society? Besides troll, of course.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! i'm doing the christmas dinner this year (i'm 14) and i'm looking for yummy easy recipes that will save me time (hello,i have school?) chef john your site is fantastic! thank you so much!
nikki
p.s. can i also use duck wingsfor this recipe?

Chef John said...

Congrats! Yes on duck!

Locatively Aware said...

Hi Chef John,

So my soon-to-be-sister-in-law is coming to Thanksgiving this year, and she's allergic to... pretty much everything. She usually makes a bowl of quinoa at family get-togethers and just eats that while the family eats holiday foods and I wanted to try to make the fully dinner friendly for her to eat.

So the big things are that she can't eat dairy, corn, soy, or gluten (and canola and olives and associated oils are out, too). I was looking at using arrowroot for the thickener, but I haven't ever used it before. Do you have any experience with it? Also, do you know of a fat substitute I could use instead of butter? I've been reading up on arrowroot and it sounds like it works more like cornstarch than flour, so would you just add some water to the arrowroot and pour it into the hot stock?

Thanks!

Chef John said...

Never used arrow root, but assume its the same as corn starch! Good luck!

Liisa said...

This is on my to do list Wednesday afternoon! Any reason why I could not incorporate the porcini mushroom/ Marsala combo from your other video into this gravy?

Chef John said...

No reason at all! :)

Berit said...

Chef John,

I loved reading your comments about your "journey" in the above comments addressed to "M in Mex", though I found their placement here on your wing recipe a head-scratcher.

Cheers to you and Michelle, off to make some gravy!

Thanks,
Berit

Chef John said...

oops, looks like I posted it in the wrong post! Oh well.

Theresa Martinez said...

Chef John,
I live in a small town and every store where I live is out of turkey wings and we don't want to give up the ones on our turkey. Is there any other part of the turkey that I can buy separately to use in this gravy?
Thank you.

Chef John said...

Backs and necks! Anything with a bone.

BigStupidFingers said...

Chef John, I need your help to safe my marriage, which hasn't even begun yet. haha Here is the back ground information:

I grew up lower middle class in a family that needed to save money by buying store brand items. Basically name brand was never really an option. My fiancee on the other hand grew up upper middle class until about high school age when her family was actually in the top 2% of income. We love each other very much but last night in the grocery store got a little ugly... all over a Butterball turkey.

As we are both teachers trying to save money to get married and buy a home together I found it imperative to save $1.40 per lb on a 13lb all natural Shadybrook turkey a total savings of $19 vs the butterball turkey.

Now I tried to explain that differences in birds is going to be negligent until you get up into the local, free range, possibly organic types of birds (which we both agree are out of our price range at this point)

After arguing back and forth like fools in a grocery store 2 days before turkey day we agreed that since we both love your work, opinions, and recipes that you would be the end all be all.

So, the question is Chef John, is the Butterball turkey worth an extra $1.40/lb? Thank you in advance for your time and help! Regardless of your answer, we will both remain loyal watchers of Foodwishes and continue to spread the word of your genius, wit, and not to mention good looks. haha Happy turkey day!

Chef John said...

When it comes to women, and wives in particular, there are only 2 ways to do things.....the way she wants to do it, and the wrong way. ;) Get the butterball (it is better)

BigStupidFingers said...

20$ better? ha ha, thanks! I will hang my head and go back to my corner.

Rodman Rodriguez said...

Chef John, you're awesome!!! As are your videos and enthusiasm!! Nice break from all the food journalists complaining of having to do another Thanksgiving week. OK, here's my comment/question: have you thought of doing this stock in a pressure cooker? It should only take a little over an hour and probably increase flavor! Thanks!!!

Dave said...

Chef, I absolutely love your recipes and have done pretty well with some. Well I was excited as I never have had gravy turn out. I spent hours preparing the stock and getting ready and the gravy started to halfway look decent when I got to that part (although very worried with tons of clumpy crap.) I then wasn't seeing lumps but low and behold they were hidden and they were o'plenty :( I tried straining with cheese cloth in the bottom of my collander and it just got really ugly. I also forgot to taste (had the sample in the laddle but can't remember s#@# so it just sit there) and it tasted terrible after straining. Tried seasoning but couldn't get it. I still hate gravy! I truly need to attend a culinary school class on Gravy making as I'm too dumb even to get it with a SUPERB video! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family :)

Dave said...

Chef, I absolutely love your recipes and have done pretty well with some. Well I was excited as I never have had gravy turn out. I spent hours preparing the stock and getting ready and the gravy started to halfway look decent when I got to that part (although very worried with tons of clumpy crap.) I then wasn't seeing lumps but low and behold they were hidden and they were o'plenty :( I tried straining with cheese cloth in the bottom of my collander and it just got really ugly. I also forgot to taste (had the sample in the laddle but can't remember s#@# so it just sit there) and it tasted terrible after straining. Tried seasoning but couldn't get it. I still hate gravy! I truly need to attend a culinary school class on Gravy making as I'm too dumb even to get it with a SUPERB video! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family :)

Jon C. said...

So I followed the directions to the letter, but I ended up with 2 cups of stock instead of 6? What should I add to make up the missing 4?

Jon C. said...

I followed the recipe, but ended up with 2 cups of stock instead of 6. What should I do to make up the other 4?

Chef John said...

Add water or broth, you just reduced too much.

Tena Dupree said...

Thank you for such great instructions!! This turned out really good ^_^

Tena Dupree said...

Thank you for such great instructions!! This turned out really good ^_^

Rodman Rodriguez said...

Chef John, thank you for posting this recipe. I tried it for a faux Thanksgiving Dinner (we actually had to postpone ours so everyone could make it but I couldn't help myself so I sous vide a Turkey breast and made your gravy in replacement). I have to say that it doesn't properly substitute those pan drippings that are so full of flavor--there was some depth missing. I'm going to try this again a little differently, following the Modernist Cuisine chicken stock recipe (i.e., use the wings and equal parts ground thigh)--not that you're worried about my response :) But I will let you know!!

Chef John said...

Thanks! Let me know!

Robeerto said...

We enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving and/or Christmas turkey dinner with cornbread dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc. However, we've been deep frying our turkeys for many years and we find it superior to oven roasting in every way except frying doesn't produce a good starting point for making gravy. This recipe is the answer. Thanks.

Dave Setton said...

Chef John,

I tried this last year and found that it tasted like flour...I had to throw it out, it was soo bad. Is there anyway that 1/2C of flour is wrong? What did I do wrong? I have never really cooked a great grazy. I am now deep frying my turket so this would be perfect for me.

I am willing to try this again this year.

Chef John said...

It's correct! You are not cooking the flour in the roux long enough. That's why it tastes like flour. Cook until it smells like cooked pie crust. You can also simmer the gravy longer to cook out the starchy texture.

Dave Setton said...

That was it Chef! I gave this a try last night and it is much better. I cooked the flour for a good 3-4 minutes and it didn't taste like flour YAH! Now, to wait for our Canadian Thanksgiving on Saturday evening. I think I will simmer it down a little more as it was a little runnier than I like. Thanks for the great recipe.

TurkeyGirl said...

Chef John- do i strain the turkey fat that i've skimmed before adding it to the butter?

Happy Stamper said...

You use a lot of butter in your recipes, should I assume it is unsalted? I am addicted to pasture raised butter, but I can only get salted. Should I instead buy inferior unsalted? Big thanks for guiding this 66 year old through another ��Thanksgiving.

Chef John said...

Items unsalted butter for everything. However, I can't tell you whether you should switch or not!

Chef John said...

Items unsalted butter for everything. However, I can't tell you whether you should switch or not!

Chef John said...

Items unsalted butter for everything. However, I can't tell you whether you should switch or not!

Chef John said...

Items unsalted butter for everything. However, I can't tell you whether you should switch or not!

Suzanne said...

Hi Chef John! I have made this gravy several times and love it! My gravy this year is tasting very bland, despite doing what I always do. I simmered it for 30 minutes and added some caramelized shallots for the last 15. I am going to refrigerate it for 2 days until Thanksgiving in the hopes that the flavors will develop. Is there something I can do to add more flavor when it is go time? White wine? Any help is much appreciated!

Chef John said...

It just needs more salt! Add some taste and adjust!

Jan said...

Love your video blog, John! When I selected the link to get the full recipe, my security software blocked a potential virus. Just thought you'd want to know in case you need to do anything on your end. I searched on Allrecipes.com with no problem--found your recipe there. Thanks so much for your entertaining videos, thorough instructions, and great recipes! ~Jan

Melanie said...

I am SO glad you linked to this again in your boneless turkey video (something I plan on trying as well). I made this for Thanksgiving and while I have made scratch gravy before this was still by far the BEST one yet.

THANK YOU!