10 Days of Thanksgiving: The Gravy Train

Take Your Thanksgiving Gravy From Good to Great
Photo: Arbiter.com
In my opinion, nothing makes or breaks a Thanksgiving meal faster than the quality of the gravy. Think about it: you've just finished piling your Thanksgiving plate high with moist turkey, hearty stuffing, fluffy mashed potatoes and creamy green bean casserole when you get to the gravy boat. Without thinking, you liberally douse everything on said plate with gravy, expecting it to be the veritable cherry on top of your Thanksgiving sundae.

If that gravy is bad -- tasteless, chalky and lukewarm -- you've just tainted your once-a-year Thanksgiving meal. But, if that gravy is great, it boosts the flavor of everything on your plate. A good gravy base should be rich, velvety smooth and slightly salty with flavors reminiscent of drippings left behind from a perfectly-cooked turkey. Dress it up or down creatively; throw in crispy pancetta, liven it up with fresh herbs or keep it simple with white pepper and plenty of stock. Here are five recipes to make sure your gravy makes the grade.

Salty Italian bacon flavors both the turkey and the gravy. Does it get any better?

A touch of tawny Port wine adds some elegance to a classic gravy. Keep it simple by sticking to pan juices, turkey stock, flour, butter and 1/2 cup of tawny Port. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Gravy doesn't get more classic than this. Take the time to make the perfect gravy base by making your own turkey giblet stock. Cook down the turkey neck and backbone with vegetables and herbs, then thicken it up with potato starch and flour. Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme add the final touches.

Porcini mushrooms, rosemary, thyme and Italian parsley give this gravy an earthy flavor and hearty texture. And that added hint of flavor your guests just can't put their finger on? A hint of fresh mint.

This sweet-meets-salty gravy is the perfect accompaniment to a Maple-glazed turkey. A cup of Riesling wine gives adds a slight sweetness to the turkey-based stock, while red and green grapes cook down for texture.

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