Thanksgiving is just around the corner. While you may be thinking about what you’re doing with your leftovers, I’m thinking about making turkey stock (or broth). My kids LOVE broth! My son James eats a bowl of it almost every day for lunch. I tend to buy Swanson’s Organic Chicken broth, but it can get pricy…especially when you use as much of it as we do. Whenever I get the chance to make stock (or broth), I make it and freeze it. It saves us a TON of money and I like knowing exactly what is in our broth.
Making good stock is a great tool for any cook to have. It is always easy to buy a package of broth, but why do that when you can make your own and add only the ingredients you want to have? Not only does this make perfect sense for the frugal chef, it is also perfect timing for the holidays. Let’s take a look at the 6 amazingly easy steps to the perfect turkey stock.
Clean Your Carcass
The first thing you need, in order to make stock, is a carcass. The holidays provide a perfect opportunity for a great carcass. Instead of throwing out the leftover frame and bones from your turkey, it is time to make an amazingly easy stock. The first step in the process is to clean your carcass. This means you need to pick the good meat off of the carcass, put the good meat away, and gather all the skin, fat, and loose bones and put them with the large turkey frame into a large soup pot.
Chop Your Veggies
After you have cleaned your carcass, it is time to chop the vegetables you want to put in the broth. These vegetables can range from the simple carrots and celery to more unique ingredients such as rhubarb and leeks. When you chop your veggies, chop them into big pieces. You’ll be straining these out so you want them to be big. It is also important to try and get all of your vegetables around the same size so they all get equally cooked. Put these in the pot with the bones.
Add the Water and Season the Broth
Now that you have the carcass and vegetables in the pot, it is time to fill up the pot with cold water, enough to cover the bones and veggies. Add sea salt to get your broth off to the right start. I’m one of those strange people who hates black pepper and I don’t like it in anything, however, you’ll probably want to add it to your broth. It’s best to add whole black peppercorns so they strain out instead of leaving black pepper floating around in your clear broth. You can leave either seasoning out and just season in the end, but it’s an easy step to get out of the way. Please keep in mind that the turkey was seasoned so the bones, skin, and fat are seasoned. The great thing about making your own stock is the ability to taste and season as you wish.
Boil then Simmer
Put your pot on a burner on high, leave uncovered, and watch the pot so it doesn’t boil too hard. As soon as the water comes up to a boil, turn the burner down to medium and let it boil gently, not hard, for about 1 hour. Turn the heat down to low, put the cover on, tipping it to allow steam to escape, and simmer slowly for 1 to 2 more hours. Make sure you continue to stir your broth once in a while and be sure it doesn’t boil hard at any point. You can also add herbs if you like during the slow simmering stage. You can add a bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage, or any other seasonings, but you don’t have to add anything if you don’t want. Remember your broth is most likely going to be used in a recipe that calls for herbs and seasoning, so you want to be light handed.
Now your stock is ready to strain. This is where the larger vegetables makes it easier. Put a large strainer or colander over a second large pot and pour the turkey, vegetables, and stock through to strain. Let this sit, elevated over the strained broth so the solids drain off all the delicious liquids into the pot. If desired, you can strain the stock even further by laying a couple layers of cheese cloth or a finer mesh strainer inside a colander and strain the stock through again. The goal is to have the clearest stock you can with as few pieces of seasoning sediments left behind.
Cool and Store
It’s important to cool the stock quickly, so as soon as you can handle the stock, pour it out of the big pot and into smaller freezer or refrigerator containers and put in freezer if possible to cool off fast. You can remove the containers from the freezer and put them in the refrigerator if desired once they’re cooled or you can freeze the stock for future use. Leave the container covers unsealed while they cool if possible to let the steam out. If you’re freezing in bags, stand bag upright inside a bowl, pour in stock and let cool. Lay out carefully in a baking pan and, while holding opened end up, seal, pushing out the air. Then lay flat in baking pan and freeze. You’ll have flat packages of broth that way. I like to freeze part of my stock in pint size containers, part of it in quart size containers, and the rest in freezer bags laying flat. If you still have some leftover, pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze as cubes. Once frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag. Stock cubes are perfect for adding to recipes to give the flavor a little more depth!
And there you have it. Six simple steps to a perfect turkey stock made from your leftover holiday turkey carcass. Give it a try this holiday season and you’ll be amazed at just how incredibly easy making high quality turkey stock can be.