Help! No drippings for turkey gravy.

sheilajoyce_gwNovember 13, 2012

I love to cook a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving dinner these days, but my problem is that they are so juicy that there are no browned drippings to make a tasty gravy. The roasting pan is filled with an inch or two of au jus from the bird so that nothing gets a chance to brown.

What would be a successful way to end up with browned drippings for gravy with a juicy fresh bird?

Has anyone come to another solution for turkey gravy that tastes wonderful?

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I make a toasty roux of flour and butter and use the au jus and some turkey broth. Add a splash of wine.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:21PM
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What about one of the make-ahead type gravy recipes? There's a lot of them out there. That way you can do it ahead of time and lessen stress.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Do you have a lid on your pan?....Roasting without a lid will make for browner drippings.
Also..."brown" flavor is often in the eyes of the beholder....color the gravy with a few drops of chinese molasses or a little Gravy Master.....or buy a couple of turkey wings and brown them ahead of time, cover with chicken broth and simmer to make a a base for your pan dripping gravy.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Just put the pan back in the oven (without the turkey) and let juices cook down/reduce leaving you the brown bits that you need to make a rich turkey gravy.

I don't care about colour, so I never add colouring to my gravy, but I do care about flavour. Letting the juices reduce until they start to brown will give you the wonderful rich flavour you are looking for.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Like cynic suggested, I'd do a make-ahead gravy. Attached is a link to another thread. I recently used Linda's "long way" and it was great.

Here is a link that might be useful: gravy thread

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:42PM
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My mother always did what Ann suggested, though if she needed the oven she'd reduce the drippings on the stove - had to use two burners, the roasting pan was pretty big.

My mother made the best gravy.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Momj47, if I need the oven, then I also put the pan on top of the stove. Either works. You really do need the drippings to brown if you want a really flavourful gravy.

Here is a link that might be useful: How To Make Gravy

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:59PM
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My SIl makes a fresh turkey every year and I am amazed at the liquid that comes out of that bird (probably over a quart). I don't think there is anyway of "cooking it down" and, no, there aren't any real "drippings".

One year, someone just strained and thickened the "juice". It was just ok gravy.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Stir fryi, you can always cook down and reduce. You would be surprised how quickly the juices reduce, once the turkey is removed from the pan. If there is that much liquid though you can remove some from the pan and let the remaining liquid reduce. The liquid that you saved, just skim off the fat, and use it along with more broth to finish your gravy.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 11:38PM
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I think the easiest way is to just use a turkey baster and remove the liquid every half hour or so. so that what is left will brown. Keep the liquid and use that for the liquid to make the gravy with. Then you have browned bits in pan plus the juices that came out of the bird. Win, win. I have a number of sizes of fat removing cups so I'd just put the liquid in one of those so I can defat as it sits.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:22AM
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What Ann said.

Personally, I make two turkeys. The first one is the one I use for gravy so that I don't have to do it on the spot right before serving.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:28AM
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I love Ann's suggestion of putting the pan back in for reduction. I hadn't thought of it before. Kind of a duh moment towards my lack of thinking it through.

Thanks for the tip!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Maybe buy a package of thighs/wings/both? Brown the H outta them to get good "gunk" to make gravy with. Not my favorite parts, so I'd probably put them in a pot and make stock after totally roasted to pieces... use stock in gravy.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 2:32PM
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I have never cooked a turkey in an open pan that had an excess of juices left....not raised on the farm 3 miles away and killed that day, or frozen for months...
It seems that the excess evaporates...cooks down while the bird is roasting.
But the best gravy I make is when I am cutting up the cooked turkey to serve reheated...or after a big dinner when I am preparing hot turkey sandwiches with the leftovers.
I save all the lovely roasted skin that people don't eat, and the bones and simmer it covered with water, with an onion and a stalk of celery, half a lemon and perhaps a sage leaf, and simmer for 3 or 4 hours...strain and thicken.
Now that's good gravy!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Linda, I never roast a turkey covered and I often end up with excess liquid. And the turkeys I roast are always fresh, not frozen. Sometimes they are farm fresh, free range or fresh turkeys from a local supplier but sold at the grocery store. I find that the farm fresh turkeys produce less fat and liquid.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:09PM
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I think a lot has to do with how large the turkey is in relation to the size of the roaster. You need to have lots of room in the roasting pan for the juices to evaporate. Maybe with the size of turkeys getting so seems they are larger than in years ago. The roaster pans can only be as big as will fit in the oven so that leaves less room for the juices to evaporate and make that nice frond that forms when the fat carmalizes. That's my theory anyhow! :)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:20PM
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If a roaster oven is used, most electric roaster ovens recommend cooking with the cover on.

The thermostat calibration only works properly with the cover on.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:41PM
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You can also extend the pan juices by making a broth using the turkey neck, celery, onion and whatever spices you like. Cover and cook on low heat for a couple of hours.

Strain the broth, cool a bit, then take some out (half cup or so) and whisk in flour, then re-introduce the flour paste mixture into the broth to thicken. When the turkey is done, remove it from the roaster pan, add this gravy into the pan and scrape/whisk in any browned bits and/or juices.

I like to add a dollop of real butter and whisk that in also.

If your turkey is stuffed, the juices tend to soak into the stuffing. If you cook your stuffing separately, the juices drip into the cavity and you can use long tongs to tip all the juices out into the pan to use/reduce/brown. Juices will also pool behind some of the joints - like the thigh joint (unless you've cooked your turkey to death!) - before removing the turkey from the roaster, make a small slit in the skin at the joint (near the body) to release those juices into the pan.

There are all kinds of methods to make that important gravy!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Funny...I can remember once having a turkey that lost so much "juice" it threatened to overflow the open roaster. But that was only once....
I wonder what's different about my turkeys (or chickens) and Ann's....and that one bird and the ones I have had lately....which have been everything from Butterball, Honeysuckle White to one supermarket's own brand ( my favorite...not too much added "solution") to fresh ( not fresh killed) and only once have I had what I would term excess juice. Most of the time I am padding the drippings with a roasted wing or so because we like LOTS of gravy!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:34PM
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Hi Sheila - it's not that hard. When you're about halfway done, take the turkey out and remove most of the juice. If you still get a lot more, do it again. You can reduce that on top of the stove while the bird is cooking in the oven.

"Au jus" simply means "with juice", so if you want to, you can serve the turkey au jus and forgo the gravy! (But if you're making a gravy, then it's no longer au jus.)

Anyhow, best of luck and happy Thanksgiving!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:04PM
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To add flavor to my gravy, I brown some flour, usually Wondra, in the oven while baking the turkey.
I let it get a nice medium brown and let it sit until cool.
I add it to the broth as a thickening agent.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Caution browning flour in the oven or on the stove top - it's combustible.

You can add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet, which is a browning and seasoning sauce designed for just this use. It's not uncommon for coffee to be added to do the same thing.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 5:29AM
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