Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giblet Gravy by Mom

I have been online recently and seen a lot of posts about gravy. Evidently Thanksgiving makes a lot of people nervous about that particular part of cooking a Thanksgiving meal. Our mother has made Giblet Gravy for years. She got her recipe from our paternal grandmother who never measured anything. I had to keep an alert eye on Mom to get this recipe down correctly. I have made it for 5 years now and it works every time so I guess we have it right.
The best part about this recipe is you make a gravy 'starter' a day or two before and then all you have to do is stir it into the hot drippings from the turkey and heat it up. Mom does it right in the roaster which she puts over two of the gas burners of the stove so she doesn't have to pour the drippings into another container.

It makes a medium dark thick gravy with many bits of the giblets and the neck meat in it. When you also grind up the cooked veggies it has some color too. This is not a gravy for someone who wants a pale thin gravy. This is a robust gravy.


I spent the afternoon (12/24/04) cooking and thought I would write down Mom’s method of making giblet gravy. She starts two days before serving, but the day before will do. Tools are a small stock pot and an old fashioned food grinder.


Turkey giblets and neck

One carrot, in pieces

One celery stalk in pieces

One small (2-3inch) onion quartered

2 cloves garlic, smashed or not, your choice

2 teaspoons each pepper and kosher salt

Water to cover


First Mom removes the giblets and the neck and puts them in a pot with water to cover. To this pot she adds one carrot in about 4 pieces, one stalk of celery also cut into pieces and one small onion, again in pieces. The onion was the size of about ¼ of a softball. She puts a couple of teaspoons each of salt and pepper and the garlic into this stock. Then she puts it on the stove to simmer until it is easy to get the meat off the neck. This will take at least one hour and probably more. I like to simmer it at least two hours. Add water as needed as it cooks out.

Eventually she thought it was cooked enough and decided it was time to grind up the giblets. (She used to simmer it for hours when we were younger and now she doesn't. I think it would be better to do it longer. The meat should be very tender.)

After the giblets and broth have cooled she made Dad get out the old-fashioned grinder and clamp it to the kitchen table. Then she told me to cut the tendons and gristle off of what I think was the kidneys. (There were two) After that she told me to pull all the meat I could off the neck. (This is why you cook it longer.) We threw the remainder of the neck away and stuffed the meat in the grinder with all the giblets and squished it all out into a bowl. We ground up all the veggies too.

Once that was ground up she mixed up some flour and water. Probably about 1-½ to 2 cups worth. It should be about the texture of Elmer's glue. Then she started heating up the broth from the giblets with the ground up stuff added to it. She tasted it at this point but didn’t add any more seasoning.

When it was boiling she added the flour/water mix, slowly whisking it in as she went along. She added it in about 3 batches and said she wanted it “really thick”. When we had added all the flour/water mix she cooked it about 5 more minutes and we left it on the stove to cool. It was very thick when it was hot. It was solid and pale tan when cool. She said you could add seasoning at this point but if you tasted it now it would taste really floury so she didn’t add anything at this point. When it had cooled we put it out on the porch, covered, until the day we cook the turkey. (We live in Minnesota and the enclosed porch is an extra refrigerator in the winter)

On the day you cook the turkey you will finish the gravy.

Once we have the turkey out of the roaster, we put the roaster with its drippings on the stove and scrape any crusty bits into the juices. When it is heated and near to boiling then we add the thickened giblet concoction in large spoonfuls to make the actual gravy. I like to use a wisk when I am slowly mixing the drippings and the 'starter' together. Because you have already cooked the flour into the giblet blend you don't really have to worry much about getting lumps in the gravy.

That is when Mom adjusts the seasoning to taste. We seldom need to add any more. The veggies and the giblets add a lot of texture and taste. It makes somewhere between 1 and 2 quarts depending on how much stock you end up with and how much drippings you have. We always have plenty for leftovers.


Mary Drew said...

Oooo, thanks for this...will have to forward to Ben who was in charge of gravy this year but didn't have this recipe. I suppose a food processor will chop those giblets and veggies up too.

Nancy said...

I am sure it would. I never got one though. Probably be faster too. Also the grinder tends to drip out the wrong end when I put in the juicy veggies; so less clean up with a processor.