I know you are probably disappointed in the title of this post, perhaps expecting a new twist on sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie for next week's Thanksgiving dinner; but I am probably giving you the most important recipe of the whole meal. So, listen up and read on!
Stocks are the building blocks of cuisine and essential in the success of a dish. They are the difference between okay and fantastic.
In the case of Thanksgiving, a good turkey stock is a fundamental component of the gravy and the stuffing as well as the flavor and moisture of the meat that comes from basting the bird while cooking You can also freeze it and use it later in some classic leftovers like Turkey Tetrazzini or Turkey Chili, to name a few.
This recipe yields more than enough for the gravy, basting the turkey and adding some to the stuffing before and after it cooks. You'll be happy to have the extra when it comes time to make soup.
Roasting the turkey and vegetables before simmering them results in a dark stock that takes you more than halfway to a rich brown gravy. On Thanksgiving Day, bring the gravy base or stock to a simmer on the stove top. Add some wine, port or Madeira, if you wish. To thicken it, whisk in a mixture of equal parts flour and butter, known as beurre manie.When the turkey comes out of the oven, whisk pan drippings into the base to boost the flavor. Skim off the excess fat or strain and your gravy is ready to go.
If you think this is too much work and can't be bothered, think again. Gravy tops the list of intimidating Thanksgiving tasks, especially since you need to make it at the last-minute. There is nothing more nerve wrecking than having to make something with everyone crowding your kitchen to watch the turkey come out of the oven and asking how they can help. Making a gravy, THE GRAVY, at this particular moment is the last thing you want to do. For some people this is the make or break component of the entire meal and the one on which your entire meal will be judged. If the gravy is good, the entire meal is a success. Well, I have news for you. This turkey stock is a great gravy base. Not only will your gravy be more than halfway done, it will be fantastic and so will your stuffing and anything else you care to make with the leftovers.
So get cracking and make some this week. You will be very happy you did this. Trust me.
Always start with cold water. Skim off the foam that comes to the top so you will end up with clear stock.
Most stocks include the classic seasoning vegetables of chopped garlic, celery, onions and carrots called a "mirepoix" but use them in moderation so they don't overwhelm the flavor of the meat
Don't caramelize the vegetables together with the meat. Roast separately or sautee them in a pan on top of the stove. They give off steam and prevents the browning. They also soak fat.
A good stock simmers uncovered for at least 6 hours. The longer the better.
The turkey or chicken parts should be chopped in small pieces to get a complete extraction of their flavor.
Purchase a heavy stock pot with at least a 12 cup capacity. (You can boil spaghetti or steam lobsters in it also
If you don't have room to freeze all the stock, boil the strained batch of stock until reduced by half. Freeze the concentrated stock in containers. Reconstitute by adding an equal part of water to bring it back to its original volume.
And here is the most important...A good meat stock is made with uncooked meat and bones, not with cooked leftover meat or bones!
Makes about 13 cups
- Active Time:20 min
- Start to Finish:4 1/2 hr to 7 hours
- 6 lb turkey parts such as wings, drumsticks, and thighs
- 3 medium yellow onions, left unpeeled, trimmed and halved
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 3 carrots, quartered
- 5 qt cold water
- 6 fresh parsley stems (without leaves)
- 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
a 17- by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan
If using turkey wings, halve at joints with a cleaver or large knife, then crack wing bones in several places with back of cleaver or knife. (Do not crack bones if using other parts.) Pat turkey dry.
Put oven rack in lowest position of oven and preheat oven to 500°F. Roast turkey parts, skin sides down, in dry roasting pan, turning over once, until browned well, about 45 minutes. Transfer to an 8- to 10-quart stockpot with tongs, reserving fat in roasting pan
Add onions (cut sides down), celery, and carrots to fat in pan and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until golden, about 20 minutes total. Add vegetables to turkey in stockpot. DO NOT ROAST THE VEGETABLES TOGETHER WITH THE TURKEY PARTS AS THEY WILL STEAM AND PREVENT THE MEAT FROM BROWNING. I like to Sautee these instead in the stock pan so they will caramelize, but either method is fine.
- Straddle pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to turkey and vegetables in stockpot, then add parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, and remaining 4 1/2 quarts cold water. Reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, at least 3 hours. I usually simmer mine 6 hours to get a more concentrated stock which takes less room to freeze. When needed I dilute with water.
Pour stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. If using immediately, let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat. If not, cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool or cold).
Cooks' note: Stock can be chilled in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 3 months.
Stock recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Stock recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine