Cooking

5 Unexpected Ingredients That Will Give Your Gravy a Kick

Bland gravy doesn't have to be a thing this Thanksgiving
How to Add Flavor to Your Gravy
Photo: Tasting Table

If on Thanksgiving you find yourself with a pot of bland gravy, try something a little different instead of simply reaching for more salt.

Add umami-rich ingredients to punch up your gravy.

We know umami brings “savoriness” to your tongue, but what exactly makes a food umami rich? The answer is a food high in glutamates (a type of amino acid), which are responsible for the rich, addictive taste found in cured meats, aged cheeses, fish and other foods we associate with umami. We aren’t suggesting you add a piece of salmon to your gravy, but a dash of the household pantry items below can bring those turkey drippings up to par in no time flat.

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Soy Sauce

There’s a reason why the word umami is so often associated with soy sauce. The fermented soy beans that give the condiment its signature depth make it our go-to source for jazzing up any dish. A drizzle is all you need.   

② Dried Porcini Mushrooms

Mushrooms are naturally high in umami-rich compounds, and when dried they become super-concentrated umami bombs. Use them by either rehydrating the dried fungi in a little hot water and blending them into a porcini purée, or simply keep a flavor-packed porcini mushroom powder on hand by running the dried mushrooms through a coffee grinder.

③ Worcestershire Sauce

Made with anchovies, vinegar and a few other top-secret ingredients, Worcestershire sauce is aged for months to develop its signature taste. A few drops will impart a zesty flavor and intricate twang.

Tomato Paste

While fresh tomatoes contain only trace amounts of umami compounds, when intensely concentrated like they are in a can of tomato paste, they transform into a sweet-savory component that adds a dollop of serious flavor.

Fish Sauce

A staple of Southeast Asian cuisine, this punchy condiment is made by allowing anchovies to ferment in salt and then extracting the resulting liquid. Many chefs swear by this stuff, using it to make any dish more complex. Just be careful—a little goes a long way.

So if you’re finding your gravy (or any of your Thanksgiving dishes) lacking oomph this year, see what adding a little umami can do.

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