What can throw a wet blanket on a Thanksgiving feast faster than a busted oven? Lumpy gravy.

Many a novice and not-so-inexperienced cook has faced this frustrating situation. You waited until it was almost time to gather at the table before making that steaming hot, velvety-smooth pièce de résistance — and it turned into an inedible mess.

Geri Trujillo, culinary director at Picnic Basket Catering, can relate.

“Lumpy gravy happened all the time when my mom was making gravy,” she said. “She’d bring water or broth to a boil and add the flour. The flour would get lumpy, and then she’d try to mash out the lumps.”

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, we have some tips that will keep you from having to reach for a strainer to try and save the day. And you’ll actually be getting the job done the day before Turkey Day.

That’s right, make-ahead gravy, instead of scrambling to make it from pan drippings right before serving time.

Trujillo and Hunter Huffman — executive chef at Till Neighborhood Bistro and Bar and owner of Cazador, a meal delivery service — start by thinking like the professional chefs they are: They break down complex menus and make a timeline for getting the job done.

Stick with us here — it’s actually a direct path to a good gravy.

When Huffman hits the kitchen to make turkey meals for the 30 families on his subscription list, he starts by roasting the meat to 145 degrees a few days before the delivery date.

“Then I break the turkey down and roast the bones of the carcass for stock,” he said. “The meat is sliced and spread on sheet pans to cool, and I store it in the refrigerator. I throw the bones into the oven to roast and get browned.”

He places the browned bones into a large stockpot and covers them with water.

“While the stock comes to a simmer, I caramelize onions, celery and carrots in butter,” he said. “You can add finely chopped cooked giblets if you like. They are optional. The vegetables with some seasonings are added to the stockpot.”

The stock is simmered several hours to get all the rich marrow cooked out of the bones. Remove and discard the bones, then cool and refrigerate the stock until ready to make the gravy.

“I make the gravy a day or so before I’m ready to pack up the meal for delivery,” he said. “I make a roux of equal parts flour and butter. The flour is mixed into melted butter until the flour has cooked a few minutes to slightly brown and get rid of the starchy taste. Then slowly add the heated stock until the gravy has thickened. It can now be portioned into containers and refrigerated until we pack the meal for delivery.”

If you do not want to cook the turkey ahead, you can get satisfactory results by making the gravy ahead using store-bought chicken stock. On Thanksgiving Day when you are reheating the gravy, add some of the pan drippings from the roasted turkey. That will amp up the flavor.

Once you reach pre-made gravy perfection, it can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated when you’re ready to serve.

You can also make a gluten-free gravy.

“For that, we use equal parts cornstarch and cold water to make the roux,” Trujillo said. “Then it is slowly added to the simmering broth. It can be cooled and reheated too, but it cannot be frozen. The cornstarch will break down and the gravy gets watery when frozen. Either way, the gravy can be made and refrigerated two to three days ahead of when you need it.”

Lumpy gravy, by the way, is caused by dumping the flour all at once into boiling broth.

“Flour needs to be incorporated with oil to make a roux,” Trujillo said. “Once the flour is cooked in fat, you can slowly add hot broth to make gravy. I use equal parts oil to flour: one cup flour to one cup of oil.”

Lumpy gravy problem solved. And now you have a game plan for making stress-free gravy and one less dish on Turkey Day!

contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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