Friday, November 28, 2008

Basic Turkey Stock for Stock Virgins

Everyone knows that you can use your Thanksgiving turkey carcass to make turkey stock or turkey soup, but how many of you actually do it? I know that before a couple of years ago, I was too intimidated by the thought of it to actually try it. But once I finally did, I was amazed at how simple it was. Again, it's one of those things where the fear of the unknown is worse than the unknown itself. I promise stock virgins - this is easy and so worth it!

First, as you finish up your turkey, hang onto whatever you have left of the carcass - even if it's just the leg and wing bones. When you have a couple of hours where you'll be at home, give this a shot. (If you don't have time this weekend, just throw the bones in the freezer for now and defrost them when you're ready.) The measurements here are approximates and are what I used for the carcass of a 17 pound turkey. You'll want to adjust to your taste and to the size of your carcass.

Basic Turkey Stock

1 turkey carcass
2 Tbsp. chives (you can use a cut up onion, but Mr. valleywriter doesn't do onions, so I use chives)
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic
5 bay leaves
4-5 carrots, roughly cut
4-5 celery stalks, roughly cut
cold water

Place the turkey carcass in a large pot. (If you're like me and don't have a pot big enough for a giant turkey carcass, you can cut the carcass up into pieces to make it fit.)

Pour enough water into the pot to cover the carcass (if a couple of bones stick out - no biggie).

Add seasonings and vegetables and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat so stock just simmers. For the first 30-45 minutes, check the pot every 10-15 minutes and skim off any white foam that collects at the top:
Let the stock boil for another 4 hours or so, adding water as needed to keep bones covered. When the time is up, carefully do a taste test (cool a spoonful first!). If it smells and tastes like stock, it's done. If it's too weak, stop adding water and keep the stock simmering to help condense the flavors.

When done simmering, pull the big pieces of bone out of the pot. Pour the remaining contents through a strainer into a large bowl that will fit in your fridge. For a very clear broth, line your strainer with cheesecloth to catch any herbs or small bits of meat. I like the herbs, so I leave them in:

Allow the stock to cool for about 15-20 minutes before putting in the fridge. Refrigerating the stock overnight will allow the fat to rise to the top and solidify, so you can easily spoon it off. Then you can either keep the broth in the fridge and use it within a couple of days, or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.

You're not done yet, though! Simmering the carcass for hours will pull off any leftover bits of meat and they'll get caught in your strainer. You can pick these pieces out and save them for soup. (I don't recommend using them for anything other than soup because of the texture they take on - good for soup, not for much else.)

1 comment:

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Ooh, valleywriter, this is excellent. I've made chicken stock to use but I've never made turkey stock with the turkey carcass. Thanks for the great tip.