For me, Thanksgiving is a very traditional meal, and at the heart of it will always be turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. This is my holy quaternity (yes, I had to look that up to see what four items would constitute).
Ideally, I like to make my gravy base well ahead of time (especially if I’m roasting a turkey for a photo shoot). That way, all I have to do is add the drippings once the turkey comes out of the oven. In fact, some years I make it up to a month in advance and then just freeze it. Make sure to pull it out of the freezer a few days before Thanksgiving so it can defrost in the freezer, then just pop it into a saucepan, reheat and whisk it a few times to smooth out the consistency. It is just one less thing to do on the Big Day.
At the very least, though, get your turkey stock simmering in the morning and let it slowly cook throughout Thanksgiving Day. Making homemade turkey stock isn’t imperative but it does really make a difference in the outcome. In a pinch, use a good quality low-sodium chicken stock (you’ll find the best versions in the freezer section). Once your stock is ready, prepare the gravy base (making sure to underseason it), then just before serving add the drippings from your turkey. Make sure to add a little at a time if you have wet-brined or dry-brined your turkey, as they can be very salty. Always season the gravy at the end.
Recipe: Classic Turkey Gravy
Makes about 1 quart gravy