We’re into the final few days of Create Christmas 2018 and today I’m sharing my go-to Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe.
So if you want to make real gravy for your festive roast – and not something out of a packet – this make-ahead turkey gravy is the recipe for you! It is easy to make, and can be prepared in advance too – win/win!
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Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
I LOVE cooking the Christmas turkey and all the trimmings – I just see it as a fancy Sunday roast!
Cooking Christmas lunch/dinner sends a lot of people into a spin, and it really doesn’t have to.
Getting everything timed just right so that all the elements of the meal come together perfectly is one thing many of us struggle with.
The key thing is to make sure you are well prepared – cook things in advance and re-heat on the day; or write out a time-plan so that you know when to put the potatoes in the oven, or when to start steaming the vegetables etc.
And if it doesn’t go perfectly, it really isn’t a big deal – I don’t know why we put pressure on ourselves at Christmas. It comes but once a year and we should enjoy it, not dread it!
If there is one thing I’ve learned about this time of year, it is to just go with the flow and do what you can. Your family and friends are still going to love you if the potatoes take a bit longer to cook, or if the pigs in blankets are on the crispy side!
Create Christmas was born in 2012, and is now in its 7th year! I share as many festive ideas as I can – my vision for this blog is to think up the ideas so that you don’t have to!
You can read more from Create Christmas 2018 here.
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I’ve said that this is an easy make-ahead turkey gravy – and it is – but it does take a bit of time to prep – maybe around 2-3 hours total, but most of that is just waiting for things to cook through.
Do not be put off by the timings – you can easily prep the vegetables and herbs in mere moments. Then there is some cooking in the oven for an hour (so you are free to do something else), followed by a bit more prep and cooking on the stove top, before cooling down and storing in the fridge or freezer. Easy!
The gravy is then finished off on Christmas Day (or whenever you have your turkey) with the roasted turkey juices and some cranberry sauce.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it weeks in advance and pop it in the freezer; or a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge until needed.
I got this recipe from Jamie Oliver – not personally mind you! It was on one of his Christmas TV specials many years back and I’ve been making it ever since. I have tweaked it a bit along the way so it’s more to our personal flavour preference – and you can do the same. If you don’t like one of the herbs or spices included, you can just omit them, or increase/decrease the amounts. You really can’t go wrong with this recipe.
Now onto how to make this make-ahead turkey gravy!
As I said earlier, this gravy is made part in the oven, and part on the stove top/hob.
You will need a roasting pan, as well as a rolling pin (or meat mallet/tenderizer), a large bowl and a metal mesh sieve. You can make the gravy all in the roasting pan, or you can also transfer it into a saucepan on the hob if you need to. I indicate in the printable recipe at the end of this post when you can do that.
What goes in the gravy?
Essentially we are making a really good stock – without hours and hours of boiling!
You will need carrots, celery, and onions, as well as fresh rosemary, and sage. Star anise, which has an aniseed flavour, also goes in. I have dialled right back on the star anise from the original recipe, and I put in minimal celery as I am not a fan!
Smoked streaky bacon and chicken wings (which have had the bones bashed a bit with a rolling pin to release their flavour) both go in. If you can find turkey wings in the supermarket, I would imagine this would add a great depth of turkey flavour, so you could use them instead.
With the vegetables, bacon, chicken wings, herbs and spices in the roasting pan, you then drizzle over some olive oil, and a generous sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give everything a good mix and roast in the oven for an hour or so, until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone. You want all the ingredients to cook well and be a bit on the overdone side so that they impart lots of flavour.
Now it’s time to transfer to the hob/stove top – place the roasting pan directly on the burners – or transfer everything to a large saucepan. Make sure you scrape all the goodness from the bottom of the pan.
Using a sturdy potato masher, start mashing everything together (don’t worry, all of this is going to get sieved out!), scraping up any charred bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Then add in some flour, which will help to thicken the gravy, and stir until well combined.
Now pour in boiling water (have the kettle boiled in advance) and bring everything to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and thickened.
At this stage, strain the gravy from the mashed up ingredients by pouring through a metal mesh sieve – still mashing everything through to get maximum flavour out of it! Discard the mashed up bits, and leave the gravy to cool for ten minutes before placing into the fridge to cool completely. This recipe should make around 1 litre/2 pints of gravy.
Now, you have two options here, depending on when you need the turkey gravy.
If your meal is 2-3 days away, keep it stored in the fridge, and finish off when you’ve finished cooking your turkey.
If your meal is further in the future – weeks even – transfer to a freezer-proof container or bag and freeze until required. You can then take it out of the freezer in the morning to defrost while the turkey is cooking.
To finish the gravy, ready for pouring over your festive lunch/dinner, skim the fat from the roasted turkey juices then add the make-ahead turkey gravy with a couple of spoonfuls of cranberry sauce. Stir until completely heated through and you are done!
I made this over the weekend, and it’s stored safely in the freezer until 25th December so I don’t have any photos of the final bit of prep as that will be happening on Christmas Day when I cook the turkey. I will try to remember to take photos so that I can add them to the recipe here.
Like I said, right at the start, this is an easy recipe – there are just multiple steps – but they’re not difficult are they? Enjoy making your make-ahead turkey gravy!
DO NOT do what I did a few years ago!
I lovingly made this turkey gravy about 2 weeks in advance and stored it in the freezer. I also made a batch of Chestnut & Sage Soup, which I also made in advance and froze.
I also forgot to label them, but thought I would be able to easily figure out which was which. So I grabbed the soup to finish off and serve as a starter. As I started to dish up from my lovely new soup tureen, I wondered why there wasn’t enough to go around as I was sure I had adjusted the recipe accordingly.
People LOVED the soup! They commented on how meaty it tasted, which must have come from all the chestnuts…. erm… nope. I had served the MAKE-AHEAD TURKEY GRAVY AS SOUP! Thankfully no vegetarians at the table!
So when I came to make the gravy, I couldn’t because it was chestnut and sage soup! Good thing I had a back-up tub of gravy granules in the cupboard!
The moral of the story is two fold:
- Label bags and boxes when storing food.
- This make-ahead turkey gravy (before finishing off), makes a good soup!
- 2 celery sticks, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, roughly sliced
- 3 onions, peeled and quartered
- 5 fresh bay leaves
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- ½-2 star anise (depends on how much you like this flavour - you can omit if you wish)
- 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
- 10 chicken wings
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 litres/4 pints boiling water
- 2 heaped dessert spoons cranberry sauce for finishing
- Preheat your oven to 200C/440F/Gas 6.
- Put the vegetables into a sturdy bottomed roasting tray.
- Scatter the herbs and star anise on top.
- Lay the bacon on to the veggies and herbs.
- Break the chicken wings open and then bash the bones up with the end of a rolling pin to release more of their flavour and then put those into the pan.
- Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over salt and pepper and toss everything together.
- Place the tray into the oven and cook for one hour, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
- Take the pan out of the oven and put it on the hob over a low heat, then use a potato masher to really grind and mash everything up as much as you can.
- Add the flour and stir until well combined with the vegetable and chicken mash. The longer you leave this all to fry, the darker the gravy will be.
- Transfer to a large saucepan and add the boiling water.
- Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 25 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.
- Check for seasoning, and adjust if required.
- Place a metal mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the gravy through, mashing everything to get as much flavour as you can from the vegetables, and chicken. Discard the mash once you have sieved all of the gravy.
- Cool down for 10 minutes and place in an airtight container in the fridge - use within 3 days.
- You can freeze the gravy too - once cooled completely place into a freezer-proof container or bag, and place into freezer.
- Remove from freezer to defrost while turkey is cooking.
- When the turkey is cooked, drain all the juices from the bird into the cooking pan, and set turkey to rest.
- Skim off as much fat as possible from the roasting pan, and then pour in the make-ahead gravy.
- Place the roasting pan on the stove top (or transfer to a saucepan) and bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberry sauce, and skim off any fat that rises.
- Transfer to a gravy boat and enjoy poured over your turkey dinner!
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Create Christmas is a celebration of everything Christmas (and New Years, and Winter!). Filled with free printables, crafts, recipes, and more – now in its 7th year!
Find all of this years posts and read all about Create Christmas 2018 here.