A Few Favorite Thanksgiving Family Recipes

By: Erin Hartigan

Happy as we are to dream up exciting new Thanksgiving recipes ( every side dish in pot-pie form, anyone?), one of our favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the tradition of favorite family recipes. In a quick survey, we found that office favorites include  Grandma’s crazy-addictive stuffing, bourbon chocolate pecan pie (booze in everything, please) and my own mom’s sweet-potato praline casserole (No marshmallows. Ever.), which is quite similar to this recipe.

We also wondered what chefs would pick, so we reached out to one who’s built his restaurant around his appreciation of family tradition. Ian Boden, chef and owner of the Shack in Staunton, Virginia, was inspired by the culinary traditions of his wife’s grandmother, Tissy, who made Appalachian and Southern food in her own home (which she called "the shack"). In talking about Grandma Tissy’s legacy, Boden mentioned her turkey gravy, a recipe that Boden’s wife tasked him with recreating based on her descriptions of it after Tissy's death. So in honor of Thanksgiving family favorites, he agreed to share the recipe and its story. (Note: If you're nervous about making gravy from pan drippings, here is a primer.)

Grandma Tissy’s Turkey Gravy

Grandma Tissy’s gravy had been sorely missed by the entire family at Thanksgivings after Tissy passed, so I was commissioned with replicating it. Unfortunately Grandma Tissy passed before I met my wife, Leslie, so I never had the change to meet her or taste her beloved gravy. Going in blind is a difficult thing, especially when it’s something so personal to the family. That said, I set to work, and over the course of several years have finally gotten their approval. The secret to this recipe is really in the roux. As a chef we learn to make sure the roux cooks evenly over low heat to get its uniform color. But not here. For Tissy’s gravy you must let it cook unevenly and let little dark brown specks develop. Basically forget everything you know about making roux!

Ingredients

Turkey drippings to yield ½ cup turkey fat (if needed, supplement with lard or butter) and 4 cups of remaining drippings (if needed, supplement with turkey stock or low-sodium chicken stock)

½ cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions

Pour the drippings from the turkey’s roasting pan into a heat-proof cup and refrigerate until the fat solidifies (about 15 minutes).

Skim the fat to add to a small sauce pot, reserving the rest of the now defatted drippings. Over medium heat, melt the turkey fat, then stir in the flour. Cook for approximately 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the roux reaches a medium-brown color.

Drizzle in the defatted turkey drippings as well as the turkey stock and stir, slowly raising the temperature of the gravy until it reaches a low simmer, then simmer the gravy, stirring regularly, until the desired thickness is achieved (15 to 20 minutes). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Thanksgiving Turkey Buying Guide

Everything you need to know to pick out the perfect turkey for your Thanksgiving feast

Top 5 Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

Abide by these food safety rules for peace of mind during Thanksgiving, from prepping the feast to packing up the leftovers.

Extreme Alternatives to Roasted Turkey for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, why not try a new spin on the same old roasted turkey? The flavor in these recipes is definitely something to be thankful for.

How to Brine a Turkey

Learn the basics of brining and you'll be guaranteed the top turkey in town.

Dinner Rush! Roast Pork Tenderloin with Oven-Glazed Carrots + Parsnips

Roast pork tenderloin makes a quick & hearty weeknight family dinner. It also easily serve a crowd the next time you feel like impressing the pants off your fancy neighbors.

Leftover White Turkey Chili

Turn leftover Thanksgiving turkey into a rich, spicy chili with this recipe from Cooking Channel.

All The Thanksgiving Classics, Plus a Few New Dishes

Ashley E. Rodriguez shares her favorite Thanksgiving traditions, including a roasted red onions, cardamom caramel pears, sage pesto and slow-roasted tomatoes.

Get a Grandfather's Web-Only Family Thanksgiving Recipe for Granma Rolls

A grandfather from Cooking Channel's My Grandmother's Ravioli shares his family's treasured Thanksgiving recipe for homemade dinner rolls.

A New Thanksgiving Favorite: Kelsey's Apple Bread Pudding

Add Kelsey Nixon's recipe for Apple Bread Pudding to your Thanksgiving menu this year.

On TV

Food's Greatest Hits

7:30am | 6:30c

Food's Greatest Hits

8:30am | 7:30c

Food's Greatest Hits

9:30am | 8:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

10:30am | 9:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

11:30am | 10:30c

Good Eats

12pm | 11c

Good Eats

12:30pm | 11:30c

Good Eats

1pm | 12c

Good Eats

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

2pm | 1c

Good Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Cheap Eats

3pm | 2c

Cheap Eats

3:30pm | 2:30c

Cheap Eats

4pm | 3c

Cheap Eats

4:30pm | 3:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

5:30pm | 4:30c

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

6:30pm | 5:30c

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

8pm | 7c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

8:30pm | 7:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

9:30pm | 8:30c

Cheap Eats

10pm | 9c

Good Eats

11pm | 10c

Good Eats

11:30pm | 10:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

12:30am | 11:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

1:30am | 12:30c

Cheap Eats

2am | 1c

Good Eats

3am | 2c

Good Eats

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

New Episodes Sundays 8|7c

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here