Pass the Gravy…Please

 

Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks and, let’s face it, a time to stuff our faces. The Thanksgiving meal is one you can screw up. It’s no accident that there are a dozen side dishes that accompany the turkey. We can’t just have turkey, mashed potatoes, and some green beans.ย No!

We must have sweet potatoes, too, with gooey marshmallow sweetness. The green beans must be lathered in a funky mushroom sauce with fried onions. It’s the only time this dish appears on any menu. I wouldn’t touch that dish when I was a kid. There’s stuffing prepared in all manner of ways, with fruits and nuts and sausages, which don’t belong by the way, especially with raisins. This is truly unthinkable. The cranberry sauce, of course, gets pecked at. A few people bother with it. Hot rolls, salad, another salad, veggies, olives, bread pudding, corn, cornbread, a mystery casserole. Just make sure there’s not one free space on the table and you’ve succeeded.

In fact, it’s this time of year that you’ll use that second oven you have. Yes, you need a second oven on Thanksgiving. Not that I’ve ever had one. Everything revolving around the grand turkey. Everything must be timed just right and be presented on the table, piping hot, ready to be devoured. Sometimes, in all this lengthy preparation, the turkey is neglected or its cooking time miscalculated and the near disaster of your meal has happened and there’s no possibility of undoing it. Your turkey is dry and tastes like pasty cardboard. All that hard work and thoughtful planning, a wasted effort.

There’s only one thing, and one thing only that can salvage this meal: The Gravy! Delicious gravy with perfect smoothness and consistency can transform a Thanksgiving meal from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether your turkey is dry or cooked to perfection, your side dishes cold or rewarding, the gravy will bring a mix of elation and pause to your family and guests.

The gravy comes together in the final hour; in my mother’s kitchen, a time of great mystery and tension. How would it turn out this year? Would it be as good as last year? Would it be a disaster? With lots of stirring, salt, pepper, water, flour, milk, and last but not least, a little magic and artistry, gravy is served.

After much rustling and passing, sometimes around two tables, a kids’ table when younger, my family and friends get situated, all the waiting for the meal has taken its toll, and finally, a full plate of food. The final touch is the gravy, of course, generous ladles of gravy.

A hush envelopes the room, conversation slows. Then you’ll hear, “Mom, this is good gravy. Reeaaallly good.” Everyone agrees and everyone wants more. The gravy is passedย around until, “Is this the last of the gravy?” If you’re lucky, there’s more on the stove. Otherwise, well…Thanksgiving might as well be over. I decide I don’t really want that third helping of mashed potatoes after all. Better save room for pie.

I never learned how to properly make gravy. In the times that I’ve made the complete Thanksgiving dinner, the gravy has been hit or miss, and never as good as my mother’s. Oh, I should have paid more attention. Gravy, I took you for granted. My mother does not cook the Thanksgiving meal anymore, and she shouldn’t. I have a feeling from here on out, my sisters and I will be comparing notes in our mission to make gravy like we remember.

Photo credit: theguardian.com

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53 thoughts on “Pass the Gravy…Please

  1. I’m one of those people who prefers boring to fancy when it comes to my Thanksgiving food. Stuffing with bread, celery, onions, butter, and seasonings. No extra bits. No fancy side dishes. Just some mashed potatoes, rolls, and a veggie. And yes, gravy. What would the meal be without it? And I make a pretty mean gravy if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

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  2. Yes, I’m always surprised with roast dinners in general when you get the occasional people who say they don’t like gravy. Even if it’s all cooked well and not dry, it’s still too dry without gravy, ya know? When I lived in the States for a few years I remember being quite amazed at the vegetable preparations for thanksgiving, I was like “It’s all very tasty, but really I’m quite happy with my veg just steamed, and served with the lovely gravy.” You’re right the gravy is the make or break of such a meal!

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    1. Right, Vanessa! Even if the roast is perfect it can be made even better with gravy. I’m with you. I like food a little more simple. My mom always made the green bean dish and hardly anyone ate it. Finally, one year she asked if she needed to make it. No, that’s okay, mom. No hard feelings. I’m sure people love it though. Gravy is lovely!

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  3. I’ve prepared thanksgiving dinner twice – once, when my parents met my girl’s mother, and once a week before that to make sure all the recipes would go work.

    Happy thanksgiving, to you and yours!

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    1. I bet you made a fabulous meal, Guapo! My first Thanksgiving, I made my best turkey and meal, but I remember feeling so exhausted I didn’t even feel like eating. I’ve actually only made the whole a couple times since! Perhaps, I just need more practice making gravy.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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  4. Gravy is the best!!! We don’t have Thanksgiving here in Aus, and certainly no meals that go to this extreme. As Christmas is in summer, it’s usually too hot to have feasts like this. But good gravy definitely makes a bad meal better.

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    1. No Thanksgiving? Do you have an equivalent? I’ve never been big on buffets either. I guess I just need a few things. Sometimes, I think people feel pressure to do it up big. Gravy even makes a good meal great!!

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      1. No, no equivalent. Christmas is our big day here. And like I said the meals vary as much as our population does. Some do the whole sh’bang of hot roast, then there’s the bbqs, seafood buffet and in our case a mixture of all.

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      2. It does. Like people who find out we do Xmas in summer and think it would be strange to do so but want to try, so do I want a white (well, at least a cold snowy Christmas) and the full thanksgiving/Christmas that other people do.
        In short here, our Christmases are a pretty casual thing due to the season.

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    1. Oh, cool! Thanks, Shalagh, I may request your help some day in the future. Good to know. This year, I’m a guest and since coming from out out town, am only bringing drinks! No cooking required this year, although I would gladly have brought something else. Maybe I still will. I haven’t had Thanksgiving with my mom for years, so I’m going to have to get one more in! At least. Happy Turkey Day to you, too! Enjoy that gravy!!
      Love,
      Amy

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  5. I agree; gravy makes it. I think all of us compare to our mother’s gravy though; your kids will be saying the same things about your gravy when it comes time to pass the torch. I can’t abide by the marshmallows on sweet potatoes though, or the green bean casserole. The latter is not a thing in Canada, but we also celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so what do I know?

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    1. Hi, Jen! So good to see you here. Gravy makes it, yes! I think there’s something about someone else making it for you, too, right? My gravy may never taste as good as mom’s to me. You’re probably right about that. I think sometimes people make these dishes simply because they think they should. My mom made the green bean dish year after year and it was hardly eaten. Oh well! Hey, Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you, my Canadian friend. I don’t think I wished you one back in October.

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  6. Admittedly, my grandmother and mother were both masters… and I watched carefully. I make damned good gravy! I also happen to make a lot of other things very well. Ok, I’m a really good cook, and owning it right here… today, only. We also celebrate Hanukkah, so this year we get to celebrate the amazing Thanksgingkkahs that everyone seems to be talking about. I plan to skip mashed this year and make dozens of my “World Famous” latkes. I just know they’ll be even better with gravy! Oh, I’m salivating just thinking about it! Fun post, Amy! Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Dawn, Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! That’s wonderful that you’re so a good cook, and it sounds like you’ll be very busy. This Thanksgingkkah is wild, isn’t it?! You must tell me all about it and how it all turns out. I’ve been hearing about it in the news. Latkes and gravy sounds divine, although I’ve never tried that before, and certainly not homemade latkes. I think I must be missing out! Have a Happy Thanksgingkkah celebration feast! Thanks, Dawn.

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    1. I agree, Alice. That can be a very strange thing. I’ll never forget the non-meat turkey I had once when I dated this guy and the family was vegetarian. Uh, no!! What is this?? Ha ha. Never enough gravy. This is so true! It’s like gold.

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  7. I’m not really into gravy myself except for the roast beef gravy my mom used to make after she made a roast in the pressure cooker. But everyone else LOVES her chicken gravy. We, however, have homemade ravioli for Thanksgiving now, at the request of my family. I made them Sunday afternoon and they wait patiently in the freezer for tomorrow morning, when they’ll get popped into the cooler for the 13-hour trip. No turkey for this group. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great Thanksgiving, Amy.

    janet

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    1. Janet, I think it’s wonderful you have a non-turkey tradition! Who says you must have turkey?! There’s no written rule anywhere. I saw that you made ravioli on your blog. Sounds delicious to me. My kids don’t like pasta. Can you believe that one?! Maybe someday they will. We thought about having Indian food on Thanksgiving. Everyone really likes that. My husband detests turkey, so it’s up for discussion every year. This year, we will be visiting family, so it won’t be up to us this year.

      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too. Thanks.

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      1. Amy, you have a wonderful day as well. The food is great, but thinking about all we have to be thankful for is really more important. My family’s never had turkey, so I have a good background for not doing it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        janet

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  8. Gotta say, reading this in a country where tomorrow is just a normal day and there’s no turkey in sight was kind of torture. ๐Ÿ™‚ In any case, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Raise a glass of gravy for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  9. You are so right about the gravy! I think I could just drink it to wash everything down with. He-Who likes gravy too but he is all about those cranberries. He puts them on everything. Chicken, roast beef, meatloaf, casseroles, vegetables, meat pies…the list is endless. We always have cranberries in the fridge.

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    1. Oh, He-Who is a solid cranberry lover if you have it in your fridge all the time. Those who really like cranberries do tend to like them on everything, like gravy! But it certainly can’t compare to gravy, can it??!! No! Never.

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  10. Gravy, I could alternate a glass of gravy and 2 glasses of wine.
    But don’t feed me turkey, I can’t stand it, I like the old chicken better.
    And with chicken there’s no such thing as leftover.

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    1. Leo, especially the homemade. None of this packet stuff. You are, indeed, a true gravy lover! I agree. Why must it be a turkey? Then, we’re just so tired after, too. Maybe it’s everyone’s reason to just go to sleep. I’m with you, I’d rather have chicken!

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  11. Amy, we have that giblet gravy — you know with all those turkey parts floating around in that broth stuff and pour that over the dressing. My Mom makes that. I don’t know what all is in it, but it doesn’t matter, it’s good. Yay Thanksgiving — that day where we can all stop being so sensible about eating and just INDULGE. Happy Thanksgiving, Amy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. Gravy makes any meal. I even love gravy with fries! We don’t have a Thanksgiving in the UK though apparently we used to (it turned into Guy Fawkes Day 5th November) but what you have for Thanksgiving, we have for Christmas. Hmmm less than a month to that turkey, potato, veg, sausage wrapped in bacon, stuffing balls and yorkshire pud. If you have a spare seat at your table, and we invent transporters in the next 12 hours, please beam me over!

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    1. I agree! I love my mom’s gravy, too. I don’t think I’ll ever make it like her, but I will continue to try. I didn’t do any cooking this year, so maybe I’ll get a shot at it at Christmas! There’s no other time I’ll trouble myself with a turkey. Your Christmas meal sounds delicious! I’m sorry I couldn’t figure out how to beam you.

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