For me, turkey is fine, but it is really a carrier for luscious gravy. And that gravy begins with what happens at the bottom of the pan, meaning how you brown the ingredients. Take your time in the first steps of gravy making and the payback is huge.
For those of us who can’t stand last-minute fussing, do the broth way ahead with giblets you’ve collected from other poultry or with chicken pieces and have it waiting in the freezer.
Cook to Cook: That funky fish sauce in the recipe, along with the tomato paste, are the umami additions. Umami is that so-called fifth taste that lifts other flavors and fish sauce is one of the greatest lifters of all time. You need only a little.
- Good tasting extra virgin olive oil
- The giblets, gizzard, heart, neck and wing tips of the turkey, or chicken pieces like backs, necks, thighs
- 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 of a medium to large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small stalk of celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, crushed
- 3 cloves garlic, whole
- 1 1/2 cups of dry white wine
- 1 generous tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon of Asian fish sauce
- 1 generous teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 4 1/2 cups of water
- Pan juices from your turkey
- 1/3 cup of Tawny Port
1. Make the Base: Film the bottom of a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add turkey parts, carrot, onion and celery. Brown slowly over medium to medium-high heat, turning the pieces with a wooden spatula, taking care not to burn the brown glaze at the bottom of the pan. You want the pieces to be a rich dark brown, but not burnt.
2. Pour in 1/2 cup of wine, stir and simmer, scraping up all the brown bits until no liquid is left. Now add another 1/2 cup of wine with tomato paste, the cloves, fish sauce and turn into a 4-quart sauce pan and cook it down to next to nothing.
3. Add the water and broth. Bring to a gentle bubble, cover and cook for 2 hours. Uncover and cook down until there is about 3 cups of liquid left. At this point, the broth could be strained and frozen or set aside.
4. Make the Gravy: Once your turkey is resting on its platter, remove the vegetables from the roasting pan. Skim off about half the fat from the roasting pan juices.
5. Set the roasting pan over two burners on high heat, and bring the pan juices to a boil. Cook them down for about 3 minutes, stirring with a wood spatula to pick up all the brown bits in the pan. When the pan juices are thick and intensely flavored, add the port to the pan and simmer for a minute or two.
6. Then stir in about 3 cups of the strained broth, and boil, still stirring and scraping until the liquid is intense and rich tasting. As you stir, the garlic cloves will be thickening the sauce, so no other thickening is necessary. Taste the gravy for seasoning. If you think if needs a little acidy, boil in a little white wine. If you think it needs sweetness, add a tablespoon or 2 of port. If it is too thick, add a bit of water. Pour the hot gravy into a sauce boat or bowl, scraping every last bit of it from the roasting pan. Pass it with the turkey.