Make Ahead

Indispensable Turkey Stock

December 17, 2013
Photo by Kui-Doraku CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
Author Notes

Big family gatherings around the holidays usually involve turkey, a lot of groaning, and booze. This rich, delicious stock recipe allows you to get full use out of your (previously) feathered friend. Your family prefers duck instead? This recipe can be used with any kind of bone and makes between six and ten cups of stock perfect for using in recipes or soups. Anyone who's had homemade will tell you the stuff in the can just can't compare. Also by making it yourself, you get full control over how much salt is used. The real challenge in making your own stock is storing it effectively for use in the future, as the homemade variety is devoid of preservatives it goes fowl pretty quickly (see what I did there). This recipe addresses how to store stock in portions useful in recipes throughout the week, and depending on how big your stock pot is, maybe throughout the next twelve weeks. There's not a lot of prep involved in making a good stock, but there is a lot of cooking, simmering, cooling and waiting time. If your schedule permits you the time to make this indispensible kitchen staple every week or so, great! Get a job.
Seriously, though. A word of caution: Don't start this process in the dead of night, or an hour before you have to be somewhere. This is a weekend or day off project. While you won't be actively tending the pot for several hours, this is a commitment. Dedicating a few hours of your time to this classic kitchen staple will really pay off. —Michael

  • Makes 6-10 cups
  • 1 Turkey carcass stripped of meat and broken up.
  • 2 Yellow onions.
  • 5 Stalks of celery.
  • 4 Carrots.
  • 5 Cloves of garlic.
  • 1 Bunch of parsley..
  • 3 Bay Leaves.
  • 10 Peppercorns.
  • 5 Sprigs of Thyme.
  • 5 Fresh Sage Leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Good quality Olive Oil.
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pinch Cayenne Pepper. (Optional)
  • 3 Egg Whites
In This Recipe
  1. Here we go. In a very deep stock pot bring enough water to cover the turkey parts to a roaring boil. If your stock pot has a pasta maker insert, use that. It will help throughout the entire process.
  2. Blanch the bird. Carefully place the turkey parts into the water, and bring back to boil for roughly ten minutes. This is a critical step as it helps to remove a lot of the impurities from the bones If you're going to skip a step, skip the clarification later on, not this one. Discard the blanching liquid, rinse out your stock pot and go forth.
  3. Chop the veggies. Big, rough chops here, since we'll be straining everything out. Leave the peels on the carrots, onions, and garlic, unless this weirds you out. In that case, peel away.
  4. Saute the veggies. I usually do this in my stock pot and dump the mire poix out into the waiting pasta strainer with the turkey parts. However, if you have a large enough saute, feel free to dirty another dish. This is another critical step. It wakes the aromatics up and really gets them going. Overlook this one, and your finished product will likely be weak and lifeless like the turkey, and you'll have what basically amounts to turkey water.
  5. Stock it up! Put everything in the pot, veggies on top, and cover it with water, and get some heat under that baby! Now is the time to add the sage, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaves you forgot to saute with the rest of the aromatics in the previous step.
  6. Simmer down now. Do not let that pot boil! It breaks down the ingredients and will undoubtedly render you a cloudy stock. A low and steady simmer wins this race. And it's a long race. Three to five hours long, to be exact.
  7. The waiting game. So go find something else to do. Do some reading, sanitize the counter by the sink where you spilled half the blanching water, or have a few drinks. Whatever you do, don't go to sleep. Don't pass out because "a few" means ten in your vocabulary. You do occasionally need to stir and make sure the pot isn't boiling or burning down your house.
  8. Strain and sleep. Line a wire mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and put it in your biggest mixing bowl, preferably one that also came equipped with a handy, tight fitting lid.The best stock is strained two or three times to help get the fat out, but depending on how many drinks you've had, one time through the strainer will be sufficient enough. Why? Because now you're going to let the stock cool and refrigerate it overnight. As it cools completely, all the fat will rise to the top for easy removal while you're combatting your hangover tomorrow morning. Remember how I said this was a 'project'? I wasn't kidding. Fear not, we're entering the home stretch. Take some Anacin, drink some water and go get some sleep.
  9. Skim and salt. Good morning, Count Drunkula! Grab some hair of the dog, and the ladle you threw across the room last night, wash it, and then carefully skim off the layer of fat that has risen to the top of the stock revealing the beautiful, golden brown goodness beneath. Wash the pot that you left on the stove last night and gently reheat the stock, tasting as it heats up and add salt accordingly.
  10. Let me clarify that for you. You're not done yet. Beat the egg whites until fluffy. As your pot begins to boil, give it a strong stir and drop in your egg whites. Kill the heat, and walk away. Maybe use the egg yolks in an omelette to effectively lay waste to your hangover.
  11. Skim and store. Now that the cysteine in the eggs is coursing through your system, skim the raft of egg white out of the pot and break out your vacuum packager while the stock cools. Ladle a cup or two into a muffin tin with roughly half-cup wells lined with plastic wrap, and freeze. Portion out the rest of the stock, one cup at a time into vacuum bags and let your vacuum sealer do the rest. Lay the bags flat on a sheet pan and freeze. After the muffin tin has frozen up solid, pop out the portions and stow them in a freezer bag.
  12. Voila! Two separate portions of delicious homemade stock, ready for use in any recipe. Just heat a half cup portion, a cup, two cups, whatever you need, as you need it and forge on!

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