Satin-smooth gravy is one of the crowning touches of the holiday turkey dinner. For those who don't make gravy regularly, the secret to lump-free gravy is here. For a personal touch, you can add a dried herb (such as thyme, basil, or tarragon) or sliced mushrooms before stirring in the flour.
When your turkey has finished roasting, use sturdy meat forks to transfer it to a serving platter. Then pour the meat juices into a two-cup glass measuring cup. Tilt the measuring cup and spoon off the fat, reserving one-quarter cup of the fat. (The fat is the oily liquid that rises to the top.) Return the reserved one-quarter cup of fat to the roasting pan. Discard any remaining fat. Reserve the remaining meat juices in the cup.
Use a wire whisk to stir one-quarter cup all-purpose flour into the fat in the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan over a burner on your rangetop. Cook and stir over low heat until the mixture is thickened and bubbly, scraping up the crusty bits from the bottom for added flavor and color. (Stirring well at this time prevents lumps from forming later when you add the liquid.) Remove the roasting pan from the heat.
Add enough milk, water, broth, juice, or dry wine to the reserved meat juices to measure two cups total liquid. (You can create different gravy flavors by combining two liquids, such as chicken broth and dry white wine or milk.) Return the roasting pan to the heat. Add the liquid to the pan all at once. If you wish, you can
add a crushed, dried herb at this time. Stir constantly to distribute the mixture evenly.
Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Use a figure-eight stirring motion so the gravy heats evenly. (Don't stir too vigorously or the starch particles in the flour will break down, making the gravy slick rather than smooth.) Once the gravy starts to bubble, reduce the heat. Simmer and stir for two minutes more to make sure that the flour cooks completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
After your holiday meal, cover and refrigerate any leftover gravy as soon as possible. Plan to serve it within one or two days. And, when reheating the gravy, be sure that it comes to a rolling boil. You can reheat the gravy in a glass measure in the microwave oven. Just stir it several items to be sure it's heated through.