Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thinking Ahead...Turkey Stock And Tips

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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.


Stock Tips 

  1. Always start with cold water.  Skim off the foam that comes to the top so you will end up with clear stock. 

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. A good stock simmers uncovered for at least 6 hours.  The longer the better.

  5. The turkey or chicken parts should be chopped in small pieces to get a complete extraction of their flavor.  

  6. Purchase a heavy stock pot with at least a 12 cup capacity.  (You can boil spaghetti or steam lobsters in it also

  7. 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! 




Turkey Stock

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
  • Special equipment:
    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
Photos Pinterest


  1. Thank you for the lesson my poultry phobic mother never taught me.
    Just the 'get cracking' I needed, too !!!!

  2. You have written the bible when it comes to how to make great stock and gravy. Everyone should take note - it's the gravy that everyone raves about.

    1. Funny isn't it? After all the work you do and it's the gravy your cooking is judged on, especially by the guys. I've been reading a lot of restaurant books lately and all of them talk about the importance of stock. What amazes me is people who make it with leftover meat and bones!

  3. I can almost taste how rich and delicious your turkey stock will be. Lately when making stock I add a few spoonfuls of vinegar. It supposedly helps to extract calcium (I don't get a lot of dairy products in Taiwan). There is no detectable flavor from doing this. (Since I like vinegar I sometimes add a splash later to my individual serving--a surprisingly good addition.)

    1. Interesting. Makes sense. Vinegar is also added to beans with no discernible flavor either. It seems to give them some spunk!

  4. I am always in the doghouse about stock in the freezer. Dr Lostpast thinks I might have a bit of the hoarder in me! I make stock with everything, fish, meat, poultry, game birds... I use it all the time.
    To make peace I have now started to reduce it to a glaze and only save some as stock. No more stock bombs falling out of the freezer (at least for now).

    Lovely recipe and tips... have a great turkey day!

  5. Love your blog and read it faithfully. The turkey stock is simmering away as I write this - money in the bank to have this done well ahead of the actual last-minute gravy stress. Thank you!

  6. I just finished the second reduction as I type this. Already in the fridge and the table set. Right on schedule.


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