Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy with a Bonus - Turkey Pot Pies

My Thanksgiving gravy is almost finished, how about yours?  Want to lighten the load a little on Thanksgiving?  Try do-ahead gravy. If you do an internet search, you will find lots of recipes for do-ahead gravy.  I think I originally found this one on a Cooking Forum years ago. The one I used can be found here.

All you need is 4 large turkey wings or thighs and roast them in the oven along with sliced onion until the turkey parts are nicely browned so that there are some nicely browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan. If you have used some really big wings and maybe a thigh or two, you'll even have some turkey meat left over to make pre-Thanksgiving pot pies as I did!

I tried a new recipe for pot pie that I loved! The topping on the pot pies is a cheddar biscuit crust which was delicious. I first saw this recipe at Sara's blog Cupcake Muffin and I found this one at Epicurious using turkey. The cheddar biscuits are such a wonderful new addition to pot pie!

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Do-Ahead Turkey Gravy Stock

Adapted from This Recipe
Printable Recipe

Can be made up to 3 months ahead and frozen in an airtight container. Thaw 2 days in refrigerator. Whisk often while reheating in saucepan. If space permits, refrigerate the broth overnight so the fat that rises can solidify and be easily removed. *See my note below.

4 Turkey wings (about 3 pounds) I used one large turkey thigh also
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered and sliced
1 cup water
8 cups good quality chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics No Salt Added Brand, but if you have homemade, even better)
¾ cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery, include some of the leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme

*See My Note Below
¾ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange wings/thighs in single layer in a large roasting pan. Scatter onions over top. Roast about 2 hours - or until turkey parts are well browned.

Allow the roasted turkey parts to cool and remove the meat from the bones and reserve for another use. Put the bones and roasted onions in a 5 to 6 quart pot. Add water to the roasting pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom and sides. (These are essential for a good gravy!). Add to pot. Add 6 cups of stock, the carrot, celery and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 ½ hours.

Strain the broth into a container, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Refrigerate overnight, if possible and skim off the fat solids from the top the next day.

When ready to make the gravy, Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until smooth.

Bring broth in saucepan to a gentle boil. Whisk in flour mixture and boil 3 to 4 mintues to thicken and remove floury taste. Stir in butter and pepper.

Serve or pour into containers and refrigerate up to one week or freeze up to three months.

*NOTE: I stopped short of adding the flour and making the actual gravy. Instead, I froze the de-fatted stock and will add the flour to make the actual gravy on Thanksgiving.


Turkey Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe adapted from Here
Printable Recipe


4-6 cups low or no-sodium chicken stock
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large parsnip (peeled), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or a potato can be substituted)
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound baby portabella mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups roast turkey meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (can use meat from making do-ahead gravy)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby peas, thawed

For cheddar biscuit crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk

1. Make the filling: Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the carrots, parsnips, and celery and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are just tender, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, reserving the broth, and add the turkey to the bowl. Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. 

2. In another saucepan, cook the onion and mushrooms in the butter and olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of the reserved stock and whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking. Add the thyme and and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the frozen peas and pour the sauce over the turkey mixture, and stir the mixture gently until it is just combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart shallow baking dish or divide it among four 2-cup shallow baking dishes. (The filling may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Bring the mixture to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)

4. Make the biscuit crust: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the cold butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles meal. Add the Parmesan and Cheddar and toss the mixture. Can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated until ready to bake the pot pies. 
5. Add the buttermilk and stir until a dough forms.
6. Preheat Oven to 450 F.

7. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the turkey filling.

8. Bake the pie in the middle of a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the biscuits are puffed and golden and the filling is bubbling.


  1. Susan, I am all for doing things ahead -- what a great idea to make the gravy ahead of time instead right when your guests are coming in the door. Love all your red dishes. That turkey pot pie with a cheddar biscuit topping is a far cry, which is a good thing, from the frozen pot pies I used to live on it college. Have a great evening. Joni

  2. My friend makes stock early all of the time-I love this idea! Gotta get on board! Your pot pies are too cute, lovin' the chicken dishes:@)

  3. Since I'm not in charge of gravy I went straight to your pot pies!! They look so scrumptious!! Love the idea of the cheddar biscuits on top for a change..will be giving this a try VERY soon!!

  4. What a great idea! This is the first time in MANY years that I am not cooking Thanksgiving, and I must say I am kinda looking forward to it :) Your pot pies look great!

  5. I made a turkey pot pie for our supper this evening :) The Cheddar Biscuit version sounds delicious!

    Make ahead gravy is a new idea to me. There are so many last minute requirements for a Thanksgiving meal that having one thing checked off the list is a help! I will be serving 19 guests this year.

  6. I have been cooking for over 50 years and have never made my gravy ahead...what is wrong with me? I am going to give this a try...thanks, Susan.

  7. Susan, everything looks and sounds delicious! But you made me giggle.

    Every year I try to talk myself into making the gravy ahead. And every year I get distracted by other projects.

    Speaking of getting distracted, when did little Mack turn 1? And how did I miss the party?
    Happy 1st birthday, Mr. Mack Sir!

  8. Susan this is a wonderful idea! I think I'd save the extra drumsticks and wings as extrasfor those guests who love dark meat on Thanksgiving. Those turkey pot pies look very tempting!

  9. I chuckled when I saw this post. I have been making this gravy for three years now, and I will never make any other. My co-worker has been asking me for the recipe, and I didn't have time to dig for it yet. Thank you for posting the recipe!! The turkey pot pies smell wonderful ;o)

  10. I like the idea of do-ahead! Convenient and saves time on the day itself! The pot pies look amazing!

  11. I will take ANY excuse to make thanksgiving easier. Love this make-ahead recipe and more than that, these turkey pot pies! I've really been in a pot pie mood lately...

  12. Susan...GREAT idea to do the gravy ahead! Your pot pie looks devine....TOTALLY comfort food :)


  13. My make ahead gravy is from Heinz! I like yours much, much better! Looks delicious! Love the pot pie and in the red chickie dishes :)

  14. I love the idea of make ahead! Since Fred added Cognac though this past Thanksgiving I think we will always add some..:) I love your pot pies.. And I still love our little chickens:)What a great pre-Thanksgiving post.

    You have to start saving wishbones again..:)

  15. Brilliant...that is all I can say about the concept of making the gravy in advance!! I will obviously have to try this and I am also very tempted by the potpie recipe...looks delicious.

  16. My poor freezer is stuffed to the gills with my turkey but I think I could find room for storing this... great idea to do the gravy ahead and used the gorgeous meat in a pie too... I always hate that gravy scramble on thanksgiving... 2 burners... so much else to do.. having it all ready would be fabulous and there is never enough gravy, is there??

  17. mmmm....I totally fall for your pot pie with cheddar biscuits. Simply gorgeous!

  18. What great ideas in this post. I am in charge of one of the turkeys & gravy for J's family thanksgiving so I am definitely going to do the make-ahead gravy. The pot pie's with the cheddar biscuit crust look really good as well.

  19. It is great that you planned ahead. This saves you from the last minute's frustration. Your dishes look mouthwatering.

  20. You are really planning ahead! That is a great idea. Your Pot Pie's look fabulous:)

  21. boy did this ever catch my eye...make ahead gravy. i am so into make ahead that last year i actually put mashed potatoes in the crockpot. and it worked !!! they were just like fresh made. i just added a dollop of butter to gloss them up and that was it. doing it agin this year. i saw you on Octoberfarm's sidebar...and am i ever glad i stopped by. i am making this gravy this weekend...

    off to get some turkey wings.....


  22. The pot pies look delicious! We don't have Tgiving, but if we did I would make the gravy in advance. No, I wouldn't, cause I never made it, Mike is the gravy maker! Less work for me! :)
    I did cheddar biscuits the last time I made pot pies, but they didn't taste that cheddery to us. I will have to try your recipe!

  23. Oh this recipe is a real time saver! And it sounds so delicious! This goes on my to-do list. I'm going to keep all the turkey drippings and use it later for a great turkey pot pie... using those marvelous cheddar biscuits!My family will love me for that dinner. Look for it on the menu after Thanksgiving with a link back to this post.
    I can always count on you for some really terrific and delicious recipes.

  24. What a great idea! I'm going to pass this along to my sister who is doing Thanksgiving this year! Thank you!

  25. genious and love your love of travel and good food :-0

  26. What a great idea! And just when I thought I'd heard it all, along came your photo of the turkey pot pie with those cheesy bisquits. I'm going to have to try that recipe.

    LOVE your blog. I'm connecting with you because I can see there's too much here to lose this URL!

  27. Cheddar Biscuit Crust~ sign me up! Your pot pie looks delicious...and those DISHES! I bookmarking this so I can make it with leftover turkey :-)

  28. I've read about make ahead gravies before but have never tried it. We're out of town for Thanksgiving but I am bookmarking this for future time.

  29. Susan,

    Too bad we've already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, but I am putting this recipe on my file for the next time.. or even Christmas! Right? Yummm.

    Thank you so much for your visit to my blog and your nice comment. Please, come back! I would love to have you there. :-)

    Have a great weekend!

    Luciane at

  30. I resort to Williams-Sonoma gravy base to take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving, but I may give your version a try for next year. Meanwhile, I'm making that pot pie recipe. I even have the chicken dishes! (Gotta love those sales at Sur la Table!)

  31. Thank you! This is a great idea. After cooking everything else, it would be a nice break to have the gravy already made.

    The pot pies look yummy too.

  32. This is absolutely brilliant. Why hasn't somebody mentioned this before. It is always a panic to get the gravy ready and keep the meat warm. I also like that you can make it any time of year. It is so beautifully browned. Sometimes mine has looked albino.

    Yum, the biscuits look so great. Pretty little casserole too. I love the little individual dishes.

  33. This is absolutely fantastic, Susan. One thing - don't know if anyone else has brought this to your attention or not, but your link for the Tablescaper doesn't seem to be working.

    Have a great weekend!!


  34. Oh my, you are so organized, Susan. I've got to get on the ball and do some of the prep work ahead of time. We love gravy with our Thanksgiving turkey so I'm under pressure to make it just right.

    I would love one of those wonderful little turkey pies. Yum.

  35. Thank you, for each of your wonderful comments!

    Monique, I love the idea of adding some cognac - I will try it this year!

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Marysol :) Hard to believe he's almost 14 months old already!

    Albino gravy! LOL, Jacqueline!

    Thank you for letting me know about the link, Patricia. All fixed!

  36. I never need to make the gravy ahead... I find it easy to make on the day I have the meal... but it is a different matter when I make a roast, so I love this idea. I will definitely look into ways to make my dark roast beef gravy ahead of time.

  37. In Romania we don't have Thanksgiving, so...i do nothing.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Susan!

  38. What a great idea! I need to look for that chicken no salt added product, as I have never seen it and could certainly use it myself!

  39. I'm smiling, Susan. I make a half do-ahead gravy. I make a bechamel with chicken broth. And when the turkey's done, I deglaze with madeira and then add my bechamel. Perfect.
    I'm dying to try your pot pie!

  40. Thanksgiving Day is always so hectic with everyone trying to get everything ready at the same time. This would be the perfect solution for the gravy so that it would be one less thing to worry about. Thanks!

  41. Very interesting and a great idea. Your pot pie looks delicious and I love the chicken casserole dish!

  42. We don't celebrate thanksgiving, but these are such nice recipes, they can be used with any occasion...and SO inspiring too - the lovely images!
    PS: Thank you for your lovely comment!

  43. What a great idea! There is sooo much to do at any big meal, let alone at Thanksgiving. To get the gravy done ahead is a wonderful idea and this recipe sounds perfect. I don't think you would be skipping on any of the flavor.

    Thanks so much for bringing your seasonal recipe to Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

  44. Both you and Ina have validated my wish to do the gravy ahead of time. Thank you! Actually, I've been doing it for years but not discussing the practice. I'm happy to now come out of the pantry and tell the world that I do my gravy ahead of time.


  45. Wonderful idea of making the gravy ahead of time. thanks for the recipe!

  46. Susan,
    That is a good idea!
    Isn't it true about how the gravy making makes everything so much busier right before the meal?

  47. Really a good idea...I'm your 300th follower...I like your blog....ciao from Italy

  48. Yum!!! I love your wonderful ideas. Thank you so much for visiting My Cozy Corner. It is so nice to find a blog with great information.

  49. You are away ahead of everyone, at least me, Susan! I'm in charge of pie and bread. The pot pie is delicious.

  50. Your blog is so wonderful. I'm so glad I found your page. Happy Monday.

  51. I will have to show this to Adam as he is in charge of the Turkey and gravy portions :)
    The pot pie with biscuit topping looks like it would also do well at a Holiday table :)

  52. I am all over anything that I can make ahead...I love to make sure I have plenty of gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner. All of your pictures loo fabulous!!!

  53. The pot pie looks fantastic! What a great use for leftovers.

  54. Mmmm, beautiful pictures--and what a great recipe to have on file! Next time I host Thanksgiving (not this year =), now I know I can make this in advance. Thanks!

  55. i really love this's fantastic.. and yum! that pot pie is a beautiful dish.

  56. Can't wait to try the do-ahead gravy & the turkey pot pies. Love, love, love chicken or turkey potpie.

  57. Barbara, I love your idea of adding Madeira!

    Thank you again for the wonderful comments. Much appreciated!!

  58. I know I would love those biscuits on top! Aren't you just the industrious one...planning so far ahead. I wish I was more like you :-)

  59. Anything to make the meal easier on Thanksgiving Day. Wonderful idea and thank you. (We often are guilty of forgetting to make the gravy altogether; it never goes over well!) The pot pie with cheddar biscuits sounds delicious, too. Yup, I'm snagging!

  60. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I'm making my gravy today.

  61. Popping back in AGAIN to say "thank you"...this was THE BEST, hands-down, most flavorful gravy I have made in my entire life!!

    I did a sm. turkey the day before Thanksgiving & put all the veggies in the pan, as instructed. I got the bird all sliced & packaged in "to-go" containers for my guests to take home with them. I then strained & made the stock & chilled it. Took off most of the fat...not all, & then proceeded with your instructions to finish it just as the BIG turkey was coming out of the oven. Ta-Da! It was WONDERFUL!!

    Thank you SO much for telling us about this method, Susan.


  62. Yay! Thanks for letting me know, Rett. I'm all about doing as much as possible ahead of time when it comes to holiday dinners.


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