This recipe is from my bible, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Gravy can be intimidating to the inexperienced cook, and everyone has heard horror stories about lumps, but this recipe is easy and pretty much lump-proof. For Thanksgiving dinner, I generally try to triple or quadruple this recipe, using the cooking liquid from every vegetable including the potatoes to make up enough liquid. A quart of gravy in the fridge makes leftovers worthwhile!

Basic Gravy

Makes 2 cups

4 T fat from poultry pan drippings, + butter if needed
3 T flour
Salt and pepper
2 C liquid: stock, giblet broth, water, or milk, at room temperature or warmer*

When the bird has been removed from the roasting pan, pour off all the juice from the pan into a large glass bowl or measuring cup (it doesn't have to be glass, but it's easier to do the skimming if you can look at it from the side). Carefully skim off the fat into another measuring cup. Do a little math to figure out how much fat and how much liquid you've got, including any cooking liquids you'll be adding. If you need more fat, melt some butter to get you where you need to be (i.e. if you've got 5 T of fat from the bird and you've got 4 C of liquid, melt 3 T of butter).

Pour your measured fat back into the roasting pan and put it over a burner (or over two burners if it's a big pan). Start heating the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the delicious browned bits. (If the roasting pan is too clumsy to handle on your stovetop, scrape and pour the drippings into a saucepan.) Stir in the flour with a whisk, and blend very well over medium heat for 3 minutes or more, until lightly browned**. The longer you cook and brown this mixture, the more flavorful your gravy will be. Don't let it burn, though!!

Add salt and pepper to taste, then slowly pour in the liquid, stirring constantly with a whisk, until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes to develop the flavor.

* As mentioned above, you can also use the liquid from cooking your veggies and potatoes. Basically any liquid with some flavor to it can be used successfully; I've never resorted to the water or milk suggested in the recipe. Make sure none of the liquids are cold when you are ready to use them -- they should be at least lukewarm if not hot.

** This cooked fat-and-flour mixture is called a roux, and it is the basis of many sauces. Once you've got this recipe down, you've got the skills to make cream sauce (roux + milk), cheese sauce (roux + milk + cheese), and much more!!

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