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You Can Make Great Gravy Without Turkey Drippings

All you need is some vegetables and broth.

Published Nov. 2, 2021.

Gravy is a staple for any Thanksgiving spread. But cooking the day of is already so chaotic that the last thing you want to do is dirty another dish or take up another burner on the stove. That’s why make-ahead dishes are so important for Thanksgiving success.

But it can be hard to make gravy ahead of time when most recipes require the drippings from your turkey (or maybe your Thanksgiving spread doesn’t include a turkey at all). But no matter the situation, you deserve to have it on your table. Here’s how you can make a great turkey gravy without drippings ahead of time.

Our recipe for All-Purpose Gravy uses a few great tricks to create a meaty and rich gravy without turkey drippings that will taste great on anything you pour it on. Here are a few of them.

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Tips for How to Make Gravy Without Turkey

  • Create a vegetable fond. Fond, the flavorful browned bits at the bottom of your roasting pan, are usually the base and one of the most important parts of a gravy. To re-create that flavor without a roast turkey, we used a mirepoix (a combination of onion, carrot, and celery) and then sautéed them in butter for maximum flavor. These well-browned vegetables helped create the first bit of meatiness we needed.
  • Get your roux nice and dark. All gravies need a roux to add that necessary thickness. We sprinkled the flour right in with our cooked vegetables, and we cooked it until it was thoroughly browned, a technique typically used with gumbos. Taking the roux beyond its usual pale shade added richness and toasty flavor.
  • Use both chicken and beef broth. Since we didn’t have drippings to work with, we decided to whisk equal parts chicken and beef broth into the vegetables and roux to help create that meaty base every gravy needs.
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After adding a few more seasonings and straining the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, we were left with a rich and meaty gravy that rivaled the best turkey gravy we’d ever had. 

And even better, this finished gravy can be frozen. To thaw it, place the gravy and 1 tablespoon of water in a saucepan over low heat and slowly bring it to a simmer. The gravy may appear broken or curdled as it thaws, but a vigorous whisking will recombine it.

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