Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Meal: Gravy Woes

The success of my Thanksgiving meal is a crap shoot every year. I freely admit--don’t even pretend to be--could care less that I'm not--a great cook. I know--only a person who would be just as happy if meals came in little white pills would think this way. I have no idea where I acquired this attitude about food. I truly enjoy eating out at my favorite restaurants, but spending time in the kitchen... Nope, I'd rather be writing or gardening or just about anything else but slaving over a stove (except maybe cleaning). The only part of the Thanksgiving meal I never hear a complaint about at my house are the mashed potatoes--probably because I use real butter and heavy whipping cream.

So every November I spend countless hours surfing the web for no-fail recipes and helpful hints to make my Thanksgiving meal palatable--not delectable--I'm realistic about my abilities in the kitchen. I don't know about anyone else but I can never make good gravy. Usually it's tasteless and either too starchy or too runny. This year I came across a hand-written note in one of my mother's cookbooks. She must have gotten the tips from a women's magazine years ago. I've since stuck the note to my refrigerator hoping that come Thanksgiving Day I'll be able to make decent gravy.

Note: Use a wire whisk to stir the gravy to avoid lumps. Cook the flour in the fat (before adding liquid). Don't be stingy with the salt.

If the gravy tastes burnt add a little peanut butter to mask the taste.
If the gravy is too thick add chicken broth to desired consistency.
If the gravy is too thin dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/4 cup water and add while boiling and stirring. Repeat if necessary.
If gravy is too bland add a bit of sherry, salt and pepper or poultry seasoning to enhance the flavor in the natural juices.

Feel free to jump in here with your own helpful tips for making a great Thanksgiving meal--my family will be forever grateful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Cowboy Christmas 2 stories in 1 book! (Dec 09)


PamStone said...

Hey Marin. You made me giggle with your opening. Boy do I feel the same way. I can cook, but I'm far from a good cook on most things. And typically my house is the nucleus of the family where everyone gathers on holidays. At least they all bring food and they are good cooks. This year, we will number 17.

My helpful hint. My 83 year old mom recently moved in with us. She's a very good cook and part of the reason I'm not as she always found it easier to do herself than teach her inept daughter. But I'm determined and this year while I'm doing the veggies and things I am decent at, I'm watching her make the dressing (stuffing to some) and the gravy. I may have to get up at 5 AM so she doesn't do it before I'm up, but I'm prepared.

Marin Thomas said...


My mother was an excellent cook, too, and she tried to teach me once I married but by then I was a lost cause. Interestingly enough my grandmother was a working woman and my mother grew up in "rented rooms" at boarding houses so her meals were always prepared by another woman--maybe that's where she learned all the tricks in the kitchen.

Have fun cooking with your mother this Thanksgiving!


Linda Henderson said...

Isn't that what they make canned or package gravy for ? I never could make gravy from scratch. My daughter and I were eating breakfast at Bob Evans the other day and they had a sign on the table about Thanksgiving dinner and how you could order the whole meal from them. Depending on how many people you had to feed, it might be cheaper to buy your meal. It would sure save a lot of work, and cleanup.

Marin Thomas said...


lol, on the canned gravy--I've added that in with my gravy and still not much of an improvement in taste. I have considered buying a meal already prepared but in my twisted brain I look foward to the against the get the idea. And I hate to take away my family's fun in complaining at the dinner table :-)


Nicole S said...

I have tried doing the gravy from scratch and it just doesn't come out right so most of the time I just buy canned gravy.

Marin Thomas said...


I've been stocking up my gravy jars the past couple of weeks--trying ot hit the sales and I always buy extra to donate to the kids' school food drive each Thanksgiving.