Mayo Clinic Health Library

Making healthy turkey and turkey gravy

Updated: 11-05-2011

Transcript

Jennifer: Today's recipe is a low-fat, low-sodium, healthy turkey gravy. Store-bought gravy has about 750 milligrams of sodium in it. Ours is going to be healthier.

Richard: Yes, and it's going to taste great. We're going to use some fresh celery that we've washed, and we're just going to cut that into some inch-and-a-half pieces. And we've got some fresh carrots that we've washed, but we're not going to peel them.

Jennifer: OK, that helps retain the nutrients.

Richard: Right, exactly. And then we'll just trim the ends, and we'll cut them into some interesting shapes. We want our pieces to be not too small, not too big. If they're too small, they're going to brown too fast and if they're too big, you won't get as much caramelization or as much flavor.

Jennifer: About the size of a wine cork?

Richard: Yeah, about that. Then we're going to wedge our onion. And we got some nice fresh Roma tomatoes. All we're going to do with those is trim their ends and cut them in half. Jennifer, if you wouldn't mind just arranging those in the bottom of our roasting pan.

Jennifer: Sure, OK.

Richard: Now we also have some shallots that we've minced, some garlic that we've minced, some fresh sage that we've also cut very fine and some thyme leaves that we've just stripped from their stems. Now, we're going to mix our shallots and our garlic with a little bit of freshly ground black pepper, and that's going to be our rub to go on the outside of our turkey. We'll get a lot of flavor from that.

Jennifer: And no salt.

Richard: No salt. We need to prepare our turkey so that we don't add so much fat in the beginning. First thing we'll do is remove the neck from the body cavity, and that's going to be good for our stock. Just put some cold water over the top of that and that's going to simmer while our turkey is cooking. Now we're just going to remove some of the fat from the turkey. There's quite a bit back by the legs, as you can see.

Jennifer: There is a lot of fat.

Richard: Pull that off. And there's also a little bit inside here. You don't have to get it all, but we also want to trim this neck fat. There's quite a bit of fat in here, so we can easily remove that just by taking a knife and trimming it off. We're going to leave the rest of the skin on.

Jennifer: Leaving the skin on helps keep it moist, right?

Richard: Exactly. Now we got our rub here. We're just going to mix that together. And we're just going to rub it on the outside of the turkey. So we're just going to set that right on top of our vegetables, and those vegetables are going to help keep that turkey off the bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking and it's also going to cook a little bit faster and little more evenly. Jennifer, if you wouldn't mind arranging those Roma tomatoes around the outside.

Jennifer: OK.

Richard: I'm going to wash my hands because I've been handling fresh poultry, and we always need to wash our hands after we do that. Then we're ready to put our turkey in the oven.

Richard: OK, well our turkey is done. We've checked it, and it's reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. We're going to let it rest while we make our gravy. Now we've also removed our vegetables. You can see how nicely browned those are. That's going to add some great flavor. It'll be a great side dish to serve with the turkey. You see all these bits that are left in the bottom? That's a lot of our flavor. We want to keep all that, but we don't want it stuck to the bottom of the pan. What we're going to do is we're going to deglaze with a little bit of the stock we made earlier.

Jennifer: What is deglazing?

Richard: Deglazing is just a simple method of adding liquid to a hot pan to free up little bits on the bottom.

Jennifer: I see. And that's so much better than using broth that you purchase from the store. Store-bought broth has about 1,200 milligrams of sodium. About half of what the average person should eat for the day.

Richard: So, we're going to add enough to get those bits freed up.

Jennifer: It doesn't matter how much you add?

Richard: No, we're going to adjust that later. We're going to want a total of about 4 cups of liquid.

Jennifer: OK.

Richard: But for now, we just want enough to free up all the bits off the bottom. I'm just going to pour that into our separator cup. Now these separator cups are really handy. It's a great way to get some of the fat out. We'll just pour that in. And as that liquid cools, all of the fat is going to come to the top. We'll fill it up the rest of the way with our stock to 4 cups. We're going to speed that process up a little bit. Dump that ice in there, and that's going to cool the liquid off quickly. All the fat is going to rise to the surface.

Richard: I've prepared one of these earlier just to show you. What you normally do at that point is pop it in the freezer for about five minutes. What you'll find is all that fat comes right to the top. You can see how much fat we'll be able to remove through this process.

Jennifer: That looks like about 1/2 cup of fat, Richard, or about 8 tablespoons.

Richard: That's a lot.

Jennifer: That's about 90 grams of fat. [Exact calculation: 1 tablespoon has 15 grams of fat; 8 tablespoons equals 120 grams of fat.]

Richard: Definitely.

Jennifer: Also by removing that fat, you're removing about 800 calories. [Exact calculation: 1 gram of fat has 9 calories; 120 grams of fat equals 1,080 calories.]

Richard: We're glad to get rid of that. If you don't have a separator cup, you can also pour your liquid into a regular measuring cup and then use a spoon to lift that fat off the top after it has cooled. Next we're going to pour our stock into our stock pan. We're going to reduce that liquid by about one-fourth. The reason we reduce it is to intensify those flavors and to give us a little more "full-mouth" feel.

Jennifer: How long does it take to reduce?

Richard: About 15 minutes. Now we have most of our fat removed, and we're going to add about half of our sage now — and save the rest for the end — and about half of our thyme.

Jennifer: Why are you saving some of your herbs for the end?

Richard: That's going to give us a brightness and freshness to our finished product. Adding them now will give us a little bit more depth of flavor, and then we'll finish it with fresh herbs at the end to give us some brightness and freshness.

Jennifer: Great.

Richard: That's going to reduce for about 15 minutes.

Richard: All right, Jennifer, now our stock is reduced; we're ready to thicken it. We're going to use cornstarch and milk.

Jennifer: Most people use flour, Richard. Why are you using cornstarch?

Richard: We're going to use cornstarch for two reasons. First, it's not going to have that raw flour taste. And second, it's going to dissolve a lot better than the flour and we're going to have less lumps. We're going to whip that around real good, and then we're ready to add that to our simmering liquid. You can see that it's actually already starting to thicken up a little bit.

Jennifer: Oh, that's very smooth.

Richard: You want to stir the whole time you're adding the liquid. And we'll just let that come back to a boil. The way you can tell the cornstarch has completed its cooking is it'll turn from a cloudy color, like you see now, to clear in just about a minute. As that's thickening, we're going to add the rest of our herbs — sage and thyme. You can now see that we have a little shine to our gravy and that tells us the cornstarch is done, and we're ready to serve. Our end result is a beautiful, moist turkey, gorgeous roasted vegetables that have done double duty — they've added flavor to our gravy and are going to be a great side dish — and we have beautiful, low-fat, low-sodium turkey gravy. What can be better than that?