You may have seen the recipes that pop up every Thanksgiving for the "make-ahead" gravy using turkey or chicken wings. They are designed to make the busy hostess or host's life easier when it comes to getting the turkey and all the side dishes on the table. It takes the (sometimes) hectic chore of making the gravy out of the equation.
The recipes looked perfectly acceptable — except they weren't saving you or me any money.
When I started to think about it, why go out and buy turkey wings ($8.18 for 3 1/2 lbs. at Madison Stop & Shop) or chicken wings ($4.38 for 2 1/2 lbs.) when you pretty much discard them in the end.
After I roasted a chicken one Sunday afternoon, I realized that the components of that dish — chicken, onion, vegetables, potato and herbs were just about the same ingredients in the make-ahead gravy recipes I had seen.
So I went to work:
First, roast your chicken with onions, potatoes, carrots, and if desired, celery. Here's a roasted chicken recipe I have featured in this column.
After you have enjoyed the chicken, save all the bones and skin and about a 1/2 cup of the veggies.
In a large stock pot, add the chicken carcass, the veggies, and 4 cups of chicken or turkey stock. Add a dash of some spices of your choice such as salt and pepper, thyme, Bell's seasoning, sage, Herbes de Provence, rosemary, garlic powder, etc. If you have any fresh herbs add some of those, too.
Let gently simmer for about 1 hour. When cool, strain it and discard the solids.
In a saucepan, bring the strained stock to a boil.
Mix 2 tablespoons of flour in 1 heaping tablespoon of softened butter.
Add the butter/flour mixture to the stock and whisk. Let it remain on a gentle boil while whisking. It will thicken - and will thicken further when it is removed from the heat.
Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of soy sauce. They add dark color and a depth of flavor to the gravy.
Now taste it and see if it needs a little salt or pepper or thyme.
Refrigerate or freeze until you need it for turkey day. If desired, remove the fat that will accumulate at the top of the container before re-heating it.
Even if you don't need it for Thanksgiving day or for all the leftovers, it's nice to have a container of delicious, home-made, all-natural gravy in your freezer.