The secret to making perfect Thanksgiving gravy, according to a golf club chef

A gravy boat filled with gravy on a dinner table

Here's how to make perfect Thanksgiving gravy.

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Good gravy is like a solid golf swing: smooth and balanced. The difference is, it’s easier to achieve. Just start with high-quality ingredients, and follow a few fundamentals. Happy Thanksgiving, and bon appetit!


2 cups brown chicken stock 

4 tablespoons cornstarch 

2 tablespoons cold water 

3 Bay leaves

½ Bunch sage

½ Bunch thyme


Once your turkey has been roasted and set aside to rest, place the roasting pan on your stovetop over a burner (or two). Add stock and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a whisk. Those caramelized bits and pieces you scrape off are the flavor! Simmer for a few minutes and then strain through a sieve and cheesecloth into a saucepan. Add any juices from your resting turkey into the saucepan, along with the thyme and sage. Simmer for 10 minutes before whisking in the slurry slowly. If it gets too thick, add a little stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, then strain again. 

Under the Bird 

When you roast your turkey, place a mirepoix under the bird. Also known as the ‘holy trinity,’ a mirepoix is a mix of onions, carrots and celery, cut, in this case, into walnut-sized chunks. The mix should be 50 percent onion, and 25 percent each of carrot and celery. Spread the mirepoix in your roasting pan, along with about a half-cup of water, then set the turkey on a rack above it. The vegetables will roast beautifully and become the basis for your gravy.

Stock tips

In a pinch, you can use low-sodium, store-bought stock. But nothing beats homemade. You can find my recipe for it here. In my recipe, I include instructions on how to make roasted broth. That’s what I recommend using here. 

About those giblets

Some people just toss them. But those little bundles of neck, heart, and liver that you find in the cavity of the bird can be put to good use in your gravy. Place them in the roasting pan with the mirepoix under your turkey. They will caramelize and add a depth of umami to your gravy.

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It’s a common practice to thicken gravy with a roux, a combination of flour and butter, cooked into golden brown and then whisked into a liquid to thicken. This classic technique has been used in sauces and soups for generations.

For some sauces, though, I prefer a slurry. This is a combination of cornstarch and water that thickens the sauce immediately giving it a nice shine and velvety consistency, without any lumps.

To prepare a slurry, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into 4 tablespoons of cool water, then add this mixture to 2 cups of water. Stir the cornstarch and water together, removing any lumps. Feel free to use your finger on this one. Then slowly drizzle into your gravy, while stirring and simmering. It thickens up immediately. 

No Strain, No Gain 

Straining your gravy will get any bits of items out of it, and will make your gravy, smooth and silky. Choose a fine mesh strainer. If you have cheesecloth, fold it and line your strainer with it.. It sounds like a lot of work and maybe it is, but the results will be fantastic. And it’s only once a year.

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