We’re all looking for ways to make Thanksgiving cooking less stressful. That’s why you need to check out this Best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe, along with Thanksgiving prep and carving turkey tips from celebrity chef Sara Moulton and Chef’s Choice.
What size turkey? Sara says, “First, decide what kind and what size of turkey you’re going to buy.”
She recommends buying one pound of bird per person, to allow for leftovers.
When to start defrosting the turkey? “If you’re buying a frozen bird, note when to start defrosting it in the fridge. You’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds,” she says.
How early can you start cooking? Then start focusing on the side dishes. “Prepare the Best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe a day ahead, then ‘marry’ it to the drippings in roasting pan while the turkey is resting.” says Sara.
On Thanksgiving, ‘nuke’ them and add softened butter and warm milk.”
More preparation tips: Sara also recommends creating a timetable listing everything you are going to prepare and when and then post it on the fridge. This will help preparation go more smoothly.
Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping? Sara Moulton’s cookbooks make great holiday gifts!
Make dairy free or gluten free turkey gravy
Mix 3 tablespoons GF flour or starch with 3 tablespoons broth or water. Mix thoroughly, then whisk the mixture into your broth.
Then whisk to a boil and simmer until it thickens.
Alcohol-free recipe: If you are abstaining from alcohol, use apple, white grape, or pear juice instead of the wine.
Carving turkey tips
According to Chef's Choice, “Sharp knives are not only safer, they’ll help you smoothly cut thin, even slices without shredding the meat.
After the turkey is cooked, cool for 20 minutes. Cooling makes meat firmer and easier to slice.
Then remove and set aside the legs and last joint of each wing. Make a long, deep (to the bone), horizontal ‘base cut’ into the breast just above wing.
Slice down vertically through breast until you meet the original base cut. This will release perfect, even slices.”
Brining and Smoking Turkey Recipes
Here are smoked turkey recipes to enjoy with Sara Molton’s Best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy:
Sara Moulton's Best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
- 1/2 cup dry red or white wine
- reserved liquid from turkey roasting drippings
- reserved liquid from turkey resting platter
- In medium saucepan over moderate low heat, melt butter.
- Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 5 minutes.
- Add broth in a stream, whisking to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Let gravy cool, transfer to a bowl and cover and chill overnight.
Thanksgiving Day directions to finish Best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
- Platter your cooked turkey and cover it loosely with foil.
- Pour drippings into a fat separator and discard fat.
- Place bird roasting pan on two burners of the stovetop and use medium heat. (Make sure your roasting pan is stove top safe. Do NOT do this with a glass roasting pan.)
- Add wine and reserved drippings, scraping up the brown bits on bottom of pan.
- Whisk in premade gravy and any juices from resting turkey.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, cooking until hot, and serve with your bird.
- Serving size: Makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of gravy per person.
Recipe and Sara Moulton photo used with permission of Sara Moulton and Chef's Choice.
Originally published on November 11, 2010 and November 20, 2016. Updated with new photos and information.
Gravy image: DepositPhotos