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Recipe: Turkey apple cider bacon gravy that makes a great leftover soup

Turkey and shiitake mushroom soup made from turkey apple cide bacon gravyTurkey gravy is so easy to make from scratch. It can be whisked up in about 10 minutes, making pan juices a delicious bonus of turkey roasting.


Add the flavor of apples and smoky bacon to the roasting pan, and the resulting juices are even tastier. That's why we were surprised to read the words “Discard pan juices” in the U.S. Apple Association's recipe for a roasted turkey breast swaddled in bacon and basted with fresh apple cider. Used in gravy, the roasting stock can make an unexpectedly pleasing addition to the Thanksgiving spread. Even if you don't make gravy, spoon the delicious juices over turkey slices before serving, or just freeze to make soup later.


We made both gravy and soup from the pan juices, and the gravy was so flavorful it didn't need meat, potatoes, biscuits, grits or any other food one usually slathers with gravy. Since it tasted good enough to eat on its own, we tested the gravy in a second-day soup with slices of leftover turkey breast and shiitake mushrooms.


There was one problem: the bacon fat


Here's a record of our process:


Step 1. Carefully drain off the juices into a glass measuring cup and refrigerate. We had a little more than 2 cups, but lost about a half cup in spillage.

Step 2. Skim the solidified blend of bacon and turkey fat off the top.


Step 3. Wonder if you should discard the fat or use it for the roux, the essential part of making gravy and many other sauces. Considering that this fat had mingled with onions, herbs and garlic – and that we used high-end D'Artagnan hickory smoked bacon, we opted to go for the grease instead of olive oil – for flavor's sake.


Even when roasting a turkey without the moisture protecting bacon-wrap technique known as barding, we typically use a little of the turkey fat to start the gravy. If you figure that you'll have at least two cups of gravy and that a serving is two tablespoons max, that would be 16 servings, meaning the tablespoon of fat will go pretty far.  However, if you are watching your saturated fat intake, use olive oil instead.


Turkey apple cider gravy




1 tablespoon of bacon fat or olive oil

1-1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups turkey roasting stock




1. Heat the fat in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle flour over the fat and stir together using a long-handled wooden spoon. Continue stirring at least five minutes to brown the roux, being careful not to ruin it by burning. We like a darker gravy, so we cook the roux to the color shown. For light gravies, cook it less. 


A dark roux makes an appetizing, rich brown gravy.

2. Once browned, carefully stir in the pan juices into the roux until combined. Turn off heat and strain the gravy through a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl or measuring cup. Discard solids and return gravy to the pot.


3. Return heat to medium-high and stir until the gravy is thickened to your liking. The gravy will thicken more as it cools. To reheat for serving, thin as needed with a little water.


Second-day turkey shiitake soup: Warm a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with cooking oil spray. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms and heat for about a minute. Turn off heat, cover the pot tightly and let the mushrooms steam-cook, about 10 minutes. Return to medium-high heat and add at least 1-1/2 cup of the leftover gravy or the plain, defatted pan juices. Stir in 1/2 cup of sliced leftover turkey breast and heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes.



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