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Make-ahead gravy for next your holiday turkey

I know Thanksgiving’s behind you now, but perhaps there’s still a roasted turkey in your future.

If so, I’m sure you aren’t looking forward to the last-minute chaos that is an inevitable part of making turkey gravy fresh from the bird you’ve just roasted for your feast. Want to skip that part? Then I have a recipe for you: Make-Ahead Gravy.

It can be made and stored in your refrigerator up to 5 days ahead of the big day, or even made and frozen for up to 6 months. So pulling out your perfect made-ahead wonder from the fridge and casually reheating it right in front of those persnickety guests is a smooth move No last-minute white knuckles with a dozen food critics looking over your shoulder and a 25-pound roasted turkey turning back to ice on the counter. Just perfect gravy, based on roasted turkey parts and fabulous broth.

Besides, I’ve been noticing over the last few years that some birds don’t even produce a decent amount of pan drippings from which you can make decent gravy. Plus, brining, smoking, and deep-frying — three popular options for preparing turkey — eliminate your ability to make gravy. So again, the Make Ahead approach is a delectable solution.

And since we’re in the make-ahead mode, I’m also providing a make-ahead brunch dish that would be a big hit for all of those out-of-towners you’re hosting during the next month. It incorporates one of the season’s most prized offerings, chanterelle mushrooms.

Make Ahead Gravy

Makes about 8 cups.

This recipe is an adaptation of one from Woman’s Day magazine several years ago. The first step is to create a fantastic turkey broth by roasting turkey legs (or wings, or thighs, or a combination of these parts). From there, it’s a simple matter of making the gravy. Once the bird is pulled from the oven, you can stir in some of the drippings as the gravy is reheating for an even tastier final offering.

3 pounds of turkey parts (legs, wings, thighs or combination)

Olive oil

3 medium onions, peeled and quartered

10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

11 cups chicken broth (commercially made is OK), divided

1 cup chopped carrot

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup coarsely chopped green onions

½ teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¾ cup butter

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

¾ cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle a bit of the olive oil in a large roasting pan. Arrange the turkey parts in the pan, turning them to coat with the oil; scatter onions over the top and around the sides. Roast for 1¼ hours, or until the turkey parts are nicely browned.

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and let cool until easy to handle. Cut the meaty portion from the legs or other parts in small enough pieces to fit into a 5- to 6-quart pot (or larger) that you will be making the broth in. Place the roasted turkey pieces along with the roasted onions and chunks of garlic cloves into the pot. Tilt the roasting pan and skim off most of the clear fat that has cooked out of the turkey (but don’t be overly obsessive about this or you’ll remove the delicious turkey juices as well).

Pour 1 cup of the chicken broth into the pan and using a very wide spoon or spatula vigorously stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the roasting pan to release all of those flavorful cooked-on particles of food. Pour this liquid into the pot with the roasted turkey and vegetables. Add 8 cups of the chicken broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), the carrot, celery, green onions, thyme, and an additional dash of the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1½ hours.

With a slotted spoon, remove wings to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, pull off skin and meat. Discard skin; cut up the turkey into chunks and place back in broth and continue cooking, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

Strain broth into a 3-quart saucepan, pressing vegetables and meat to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the vegetables and meat. Meanwhile, skim the fat off the broth and discard (if time permits, refrigerate the broth overnight to make fat-skimming easier). Adjust seasonings, adding additional salt, pepper and thyme if necessary to make a flavorful broth. (NOTE: this is one of the points where you could simply refrigerate or freeze what you have created so far. Or you can proceed to the making-of-the-gravy portion of the recipe.)

When ready to make the gravy, melt the butter in a large saucepan, over medium heat, then add the finely chopped yellow onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions have become translucent and turned a light golden brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stirring constantly, and cook until the flour is a golden brown. You will need to adjust the heat so the mixture does not burn.

Gradually whisk in 8 cups of the strained stock, stirring over medium to medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and is smooth. If it seems too thick, add additional stock. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour into one or two containers and refrigerate up to 5 days (or freeze up to 6 months).

When ready to serve, pour the gravy into a pot and reheat over medium low heat, stirring. If desired, scrape the bottom of the turkey pan and add the drippings to the gravy. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Chanterelle and Cheese Strata

Wild chanterelles — part of the Pacific Northwest autumn bounty — are an elegant addition to any feast. This recipe can be assembled several hours ahead or the night before, then baked just prior to serving.

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup chopped yellow onion

½ cup chopped leeks (white and pale green portion)

1 garlic clove, minced

½ pound chanterelles, sliced into ¼-inch thick strips

4 cups cubed day-old bread (I prefer a hearty/rustic artisan variety such as Pugliese or sourdough)

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

2 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, leeks, garlic, and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are very tender, about 5 minutes. Layer half of the bread cubes in a baking dish measuring approximately 8-by-11¾ inches that has been lightly oiled. Arrange half of the vegetable mixture on top of the bread cubes, then half of the cheese. Add remaining bread and vegetable mixture in the same order.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the ingredients in the dish. Add remaining 1 cup of cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

About 1¼ hours before serving, bake the casserole (uncovered) in a preheated 350-degree oven until golden, bubbly and puffy, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes to “compose.”

— Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist, and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.