The Secret to Perfect Holiday Gravy Is Making It Before Halloween
When it comes to the holidays, from Thanksgiving and Christmas through New Year's, anything you can do to make your life easier without compromising quality is something to lean into. And perhaps the easiest thing you can take off your holiday meal to-do list is the gravy.
Related: 18 Excellent Gravy Recipes
Here's what you need to know: Gravy, a thickened combination of meat drippings and juices and stock, freezes beautifully. Which means you can make your holiday gravy when I do—right around Halloween—to get me through all my holiday meals to come. Really!
From the Thanksgiving turkey gravy to the Hannukah leg of lamb to the Christmas prime rib, all of your gravies can be easily made and stashed in the freezer, just in need of thawing, reheating, and last-minute additions of fresh herbs or punched up seasoning. And you can head into November feeling already up on the whole season. Here's how to do it:
How to make holiday gravy in advance
For starters, you need to roast off some meat to get drippings and as the basis for your stocks. You'll want about 3-4 pounds of meat for one meal's worth of gravy. Grab these cuts from your butcher counter.
- Poultry gravy: wings and drumsticks
- Beef gravy: oxtails, short ribs, or shanks
- Lamb gravy: shanks
Insider tip: If you want an all-purpose gravy that you can also make ahead without roasting meat, and goes with pretty much any protein, try this Bacon and Shallot Gravy.
1. Lightly oil your pieces and place in a roasting pan with some whole carrots and quartered onion or whole shallot.
2. Roast at 400° for 1 hour to 90 minutes, until fat has rendered, and meat is nicely browned. If you need more than one flavor of gravy for the season, roast all of your meats at the same time in different pans.
3. Once roasted, remove the meat and vegetables to a stock pot and add water to cover. Save the cooking juices and drippings.
4. Make stock by gently simmering the meat and vegetables for an hour. Use the drippings and stock to follow your usual recipe for gravy, or try this one. Go a bit light on salt and pepper, as the gravy might reduce slightly when you reheat it on the day.
5. If you don't use all the stock, save and freeze to use to baste your meats for the holiday meal, to thin gravy that thickens too much, or to add to any stock you make with the holiday carcass.
6. Once the gravy is made, cool to room temp, then put in the fridge overnight. Once chilled, transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container or bag and freeze until the night before the holiday meal.
7. The day before your holiday, thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat on low, adjust seasoning, and add any fresh herbs to brighten.
Holiday gravy recipes to try
Don't have a go-to gravy recipe yet? Check out some of these favorites: