Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful (and a recipe for simple and delicious Herbed Turkey Gravy)

The child, with my parents - 11/23/11
I know a post about how we all need to sit back and smell the roses is trite at Thanksgiving but this year I have something of a Thanksgiving wish.  And in hoping for this wish to come true I have spent a lot of time contemplating what it means to be thankful.  Is it selfish of me to have this wish?  Isn't this the time of year when we are supposed to be humble and appreciate what we have?  Who am I to want MORE?

Those of you who know me in real life probably know what I want.  It is a very simple desire but for some I guess it could seem petty and small.  Last year my father started a downward medical spiral.  On Thanksgiving.  I won't go into detail but it started with him leaving his and my mother's home in an ambulance and ended when he returned home, to a very different way of life, five whole months later.  He is doing quite well now but last Thanksgiving and the ensuing months hold nothing for me but horrible memories and anxiety.

Believe me when I say I am unbelievably thankful that my father is home, with my mother, where he belongs.  I am thankful for my family (the one I was born into and the one I married into).  I am thankful for my friends (near and far, new and old) who, in my life, are often as close as family.  I am thankful for my health and the health of those around me.  I am thankful for those of you who read my ramblings here.  I am thankful for the life I lead.  But what I really want is for my family to create a new, positive Thanksgiving memory to replace those from last year.  I have been visualizing a day like this - a simple day where we eat some good food, laugh a little and no one ends up in the hospital - not much to ask for I hope.  I have friends, who are more religious than I am, praying for the outcome I desire.  So if it is a little selfish I am going to live with it.  I don't take what I have for granted.  I *am* thankful. 

I just need to WANT a little and then I'll be even more thankful.

This recipe has nothing to do with being thankful but maybe your guests will be thankful you made it.  Or maybe you'll be thankful that you stumbled across this recipe in a last-minute Thanksgiving panic.  Either way, it's a terrific gravy recipe and method that is good to have in your recipe stable.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Herbed Turkey Gravy
Yields about 4 cups

  • 4 cups chicken stock (either your own or the best low or no-sodium store-bought you can find)
  • 1 turkey neck
  • turkey giblets (heart, liver, etc. from inside the turkey cavity)
  • 1 cup onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 small stalks fresh rosemary
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 TBS medium brown roux (recipe follows)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine stock, turkey neck, giblets, onions, celery, carrots, and herbs in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 60-90 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  4. Strain out the vegetables, herbs, bones, giblets, etc.
  5. Turkey stock will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator or can be frozen for several months.
  6. To make the gravy heat the stock over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk in the roux making sure to leave no lumps.  Allow the stock to thicken (the roux will do this).  Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.  If you desire you can add in a handful of finely chopped fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving.
To make the roux heat 2-3 TBS of butter or oil in a pan (I prefer butter for flavor) and allow to melt (if using butter).  Whisk in an equivalent amount of flour and continue cooking and whisking until the flour-y smell is gone and the roux smells toasty and resembles thin peanut butter.  Allow to cool. 

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