If we’ve learned anything from the Ghost of Thanksgiving past, it’s that there’s never enough gravy if you make it from just the turkey drippings on the day of Thanksgiving. It can be very difficult to stretch a sauce from a deglazed roasting pan while still retaining its taste, since reduction is what intensifies flavor. Sure, you can add starchy-tasting fillers to make the gravy stretch, but then the sauce loses its richness and deep turkey flavor.
Safeguarding against a gravy shortage requires a modicum of planning and preparation, but the good news is that it can be done several days, or even weeks, in advance by preparing a large quantity of homemade turkey stock. The stock can be made the same way you would prepare chicken stock, only from a combination of turkey parts (legs, wings, necks) cut into pieces by your butcher.
We recommend Molly Stevens’ recipe from her article “The Perfect Bird,” published in Saveur Magazine in 2012. Steps 1 and 2 will take you through the turkey stock preparation, which will be added to the pan drippings and thickened with a roux to prepare the final gravy on the day of Thanksgiving. The recipe should provide ample gravy for a party of ten modest eaters or six to eight gravy hogs. Stevens also employs a clever technique of using her containers of frozen turkey stock as ice packs if traveling for the holidays.
Even when cooking for a small party where rationing gravy isn’t a concern, this dark, flavorful stock is a welcome addition for the savory depth it adds to the sauce. In fact, you may want to double the recipe so that half of the stock can be used to make a gumbo or another stew with the turkey leftovers. What’s more, the meat from the turkey parts used to prepare the stock will ensure that your dogs aren’t omitted from the benevolent spirit of the holiday.