How to Make Gravy

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To make your own stock, you first need poultry bones, either cooked or raw or a combination. Some of the bones should have meat on them, but most can be picked clean. I save my roast chicken carcasses in the freezer until stock-making day, and augment them with fresh chicken or turkey wings picked up at the supermarket. Two or three pounds of bones is plenty, but even a pound will give you enough stock to make gravy. If you’ve got turkey giblets from your bird (heart, gizzard, neck, anything but the liver), throw them into the pot with the bones and a big pinch of salt.

Add some vegetables and aromatics: a carrot, a leafy celery stalk, an onion and/or leek, a few cloves of peeled garlic, a bay leaf and/or some parsley stems, and a teaspoon of peppercorns.

Pour in enough water to cover all the solids by at least 2 inches. Then bring it up to a very gentle simmer and let it bubble for a couple of hours. I don’t bother skimming, but it won’t hurt if you do. Strain everything, pressing down on the solids, and chill for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months.

If you want to make a more intensely flavored stock, try this recipe by the chef Suzanne Goin, which calls for roasting the bones and the vegetables before they are combined with white wine and a red chile and simmered on the stove.


If making your own is out of the question, you can come pretty close with a good-quality poultry stock bought either from a butcher shop or specialty shop (preferably one made in-house). You’ll often find stocks in the freezer case.

If the supermarket is your only option, the rule for canned stock, or stock sold in Tetra Paks, is to taste before using. If it’s terrible, you’re better off with a bouillon cube and water, which is a low bar but marginally better than water. As a last-minute fix for weak stock, simmer it with the turkey giblets for an hour or two. That will fortify it.

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