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This Umami Gravy Is the Best Gravy You Can Make with Boxed Stock

Bon Appétit logo Bon Appétit 3 days ago Alex Beggs

Thanksgiving week is what we call GO TIME. The flickering grocery store lights become too familiar. The fridge begins to lose every inch of free space. Printed recipes taped to different cabinets make the kitchen look like a war room on a crime show. Planning what to make ahead—from three days before to the morning of—is a home cook’s final exam. We waited all year for this! And usually, gravy is assumedly a day-of dish, made with scalding turkey drippings, frantically stirred with the one roux you make a year, maybe too thick or too thin but hurry and get that thing on the table!

Let’s make it ahead this year.

Andy Baraghani wanted a velvety, flavor-packed gravy that you can get over with days in advance, reheat on Thanksgiving, with no one ever knowing the difference. You can either use turkey stock or boxed chicken stock (the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen likes Pacific brand). But because store-bought stock lacks complexity and depth and can veer to the sweeter side, Andy doctors it up with a burst of umami—that savory fifth taste triggered by good Parmesan cheese and funky mushrooms. Here’s how he does it.

a close up of a wine glass: Look who planned ahead. © Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen... Look who planned ahead.

With a Turkey Neck

You know how your turkey comes with a bag of giblets and other turkey...innards? In this recipe, you brown the turkey neck, creating a fond—the French term for a layer of caramelized fat on the bottom of a pot. That fond (🙄) adds backbone and depth and turkey flavor. It’s the base layer of our umami gravy.

With Some Onions

We don’t normally think about onions as being sweet, but damn, they are sweet. In this recipe, you need to cook them until they’re tender and browning around the edges, a quick cook, not the low-and-slow caramelized onion method, which makes them waaaay too sweet. That almost burnt edge gives the gravy a deep savory note.

With Shiitake Mushrooms

These add mega-umami. Absolute must.

a person preparing food in a pan on a stove: Spooning the stock into the roux. © Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen... Spooning the stock into the roux.

With a Fortified Stock

Once all of the base aromatics and elements have browned and done their thing, you add the neck back in the pot with whatever stock you’re using and cook it like a stock, then strain. After that you follow the usual gravy steps: Make a roux with fine flour and butter, gradually whisking in the fortified stock. It’ll thicken into a smooth, dreamy gravy and we call it quits when it coats the back of a (very necessary) taste-testing spoon.

a person holding a pan of food on a stove: That final hit. © Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen... That final hit.

With a Final Drop of Soy Sauce

Just a teaspoon, at the end (so it won’t cook off). The final umami hit. The extra credit. Then you can refrigerate it two days before the big day, reheating and whisking it to perfection on the stove.

Get the Recipe:

Umami Gravy

a cup of coffee sitting on top of a wooden table © Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen...
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