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The best gravy is made from the turkey itself

Thanksgiving gravy
The turkey’s neck and organs provide the best flavor for a simple Thanksgiving gravy.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

Thanksgiving in 2020 is going to look a lot different this year in more ways than one. So instead of doing things the way they’ve always been done, here are recipes that throw tradition out the window — at least just this once — and play around with the expected holiday tropes. You’ll see that the classic dishes can be much easier — and more fun — when you focus on highlighting the qualities in each that really matter.

After almost a year of being at home and the same old, same old, reinvigorate your Thanksgiving table with a fresh outlook on the traditional holiday staples.

Gravy doesn’t need to be complicated, but boy, does it ever get that way. So many people put a lot of stock, time and energy into a sauce that, while good at contributing a fatty moistness to often-dry turkey or potatoes, gets dominated flavor-wise by everything else on the plate. And then there’s the frenzied dance of pouring out the turkey pan drippings, separating the fat from the liquid, then whisking like a mad person to make the gravy while every timer is going off at the same time in the final dash to get all the dishes on the table at once. It’s not worth the stress.

Instead, make the gravy ahead, flavoring it with something you already have for free in the turkey: its innards. Giblets, gizzards, offal — whatever you want to call them — it’s these “other parts” that give the gravy its purpose. I chop up the neck and toss it into a pan with the liver, heart and other goodies from the convenient bag stuffed near the turkey’s breast before pouring over chicken stock. The organs simmer in the stock, adding their earthy richness, before getting strained out. If you’d like, chop up the liver and heart and pick off any meat from the neck to add back to the stock like my mom did when I was growing up.

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All that’s left is to thicken it, and in the interest of ease, I like to make a beurre manié. This mix of soft butter mashed with flour gets stirred into the simmering stock until it thickens to an appetizingly gloppy gravy. It tastes simply of poultry umami and fat, attributes that boost the turkey’s flavor and don’t detract from everything else on the plate. A win for ease at what can often be a taxing time.

Good Stuff Gravy

Time 50 minutes
Yields Makes 4 cups


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