Turkey Stock is the base to a great gravy, sauce and stuffing. Make your own for robust flavor and maximum health benefits.
This tutorial will show you how to make it with perfect results. You’ll never buy store bought stock again!
What's In This Article
When is the prime time to make turkey stock? After you make turkey of course, Thanksgiving! The best time to make is stock is when turkey bones are plentiful and perfectly roasted.
Stock is one of those things that chefs find to be intensely satisfying. However home cooks tend to find it time consuming and not as fulfilling.
After taking a quick poll on my Facebook page, I realized many folks are intimidated by stock making. Or have tried it and found it lacked flavor or substance. Just a waste of time.
What Makes a Good Stock?
I decided to make a quick list of tips and tricks on how to make stock. Give it a read before tackling any turkey stock recipe.
The main elements we are aiming for are:
- Clear appearance (not murky)
Store bought stock just won’t have these elements like a homemade one will. Primarily, the gel.
Premade stocks are watery and get most of their flavor from salt, not real ingredients.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still use store bought sometimes. Even using bullion or concentrate because sometimes you just need a little or don’t have any homemade on hand.
How to Freeze Stock
Generally when making turkey stock, I make it in large batches and then freeze it in 2 cups increments. You can freeze stock in airtight plastic bags.
I recommend double bagging them for extra protection, but then they can lie flat and take up little room in the freezer. Just take them out as you need them!
Stock icicles! I crack myself up. But seriously, you can also freeze the in an ice cube tray for smaller servings.
This recipe can be made after preparing any turkey, but my Orange Thyme Turkey makes extra special flavor! This batch went straight into my Turkey Noodle Soup, the perfect way to use up that leftover turkey!
Also use turkey stock to make gravy, stuffing or any sauce that calls for chicken stock or broth.
Tips for Making Expert Stock
ONE. Bones are the base. Well, unless you are making vegetable stock of course! I’ve heard some folks swear that you need to completely clean the bones, sometimes even boiling them before making the stock or setting them in a tub of cold water to release any little bits that might murk up your stock.
Well, I’m breaking the mold (along with many other chefs), I find that this also takes out some of the glorious flavor you after. I don’t spend time cleaning those bones, I’d rather just run my stock through a fine mesh sieve at the end. And in fact, some chefs purposefully throw in whole parts of meat to add flavor.
Bones are also where you will find that great gelatin you are looking for. Different meats will yield differing amounts and not every batch will be solid, but it is what we are aiming for and gelatin comes from those bones.
TWO. Restaurants don’t discard much, all those odds and ends turn up in the stock! The pieces of vegetables and herbs you typically throw away are perfect for stock. Use the celery ribs in an actual recipe, but the bulb (base) throw it in the stock. Stems of herbs and tops of carrots, toss them in too! Nothing goes to waste until it is wasted.
THREE. Roast those bones! Roasted bones can add more depth and flavor to your stock. A cooked chicken or turkey will be more flavorful than raw. If you have raw beef bones, roast them at 300 for 30-60 minutes first. It isn’t mandatory, but another way to amplify the flavor.
FOUR. Add bones and simmer for an hour before adding vegetables. If you want the stock to have the most essence of meat it can, start with the bones and meat and add the vegetables and herbs later.
FIVE. Vegetable bases vary greatly and mine are usually made up of whatever is leftover in my vegetable crisper… literally. But there are a few ingredients seen to be the base of any good stock: carrots, celery, onion and parsley.
I am going to tack on garlic, but that is just me. No need to perfectly chop all of these pieces up, they are just there for flavor and will have plenty of time to extract, so coarsely chop or thrown them in whole.
SIX. Don’t focus too heavily on the seasoning when you start. After the stock reduces, you will need to correct it anyhow. The one thing I’d say you can’t do without is whole peppercorns.
Ground pepper is fine, but you can’t get it back as easily. Don’t go crazy with the salt, add a little to bring out the flavors, but ultimately leave it out until you actually go to use the stock for your recipe.
SEVEN. Stock pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker? You can use them all! However, I am old school and use a stock pot. Ideally tall and narrow, the shape is important because there is less surface space and therefore is will evaporate slower.
The point here is that the mixture reduces, resulting in the remaining liquid being condensed and robust. The pressure cooker will do the same job as an 8-hour simmer in just an hour, but there is no reduction.
The slow cooker is by far my least favorite method. While the benefit is that it stays at the perfect temperature and you don’t have to tend to it, it also doesn’t reduce.
EIGHT. What is a good ratio? Ideally you want 2 pounds of bones/meat for every 2 quarts of water as a minimum. You can always add more if the mixture is too rich (is there such a thing?) but you will spend hours trying to reduce it down enough if you add too much.
NINE. But stocks take so much time… Yes, they do. Pick a day you were just planning to be lounging around the house anyhow. You can certainly only dedicate 2 hours to your stock, but don’t think you’ll have the best in town either.
My minimum time is 5 hours. But it isn’t ready after it gets done.
TEN. Finishing touches make the stock! I have two steps. First I remove all of the large pieces, then I run the whole mix through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Twice.
I want to get anything and everything out so I have a perfectly clear broth with no free floating particles. Lastly, I put it all in a container and into the fridge. Any large pieces of fat (not gel) will rise to the top and solidify. Then you easily peel off the fat. Just like that your beautiful stock will be lurking underneath.
ELEVEN. Storing stock is easy! Either can it using traditional canning methods, freeze it in airtight plastic bags or freeze it in cubes in an ice cube tray.
Recipes that use Homemade Stock
- Baked Rice Pilaf
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- French Baked Onions
- Beer and Bacon Sauerkraut
- Chestnut Dressing
- Red Wine Gravy
- Veal Ragu
- 1 turkey carcass broken into to pieces so it fits in the stockpot
- 2 medium stalks celery cut into thirds
- 1 large carrot cut into thirds
- 1 medium yellow onion quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black or white peppercorns
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2-3 sprigs flat leaf parsley
- 1 parsnip cut into thirds (optional)
- Add turkey bones, uncleaned into a large stock pot. Add cold water, enough to cover bones or a minimum of 2 quarts for every 1 pound of bones.
- Heat on low to a simmer for 2-3 hours. Refrain from stirring too much and skim any scum off the top periodically. Do not boil.
- Add vegetables, herbs and spices and continue to simmer for 2-3 hours.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer into large heatproof containers. Let cool, then refrigerate.
- Wait until solid fats (if there is any) solidify and then peel off the top. Freeze or use immediately.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!