Homemade Turkey Stock
Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein. It is tasty, and since it has a fairly mild flavor, it can be presented in many ways through the use of different herbs and spices. One thing turkey is not, however, is small.
Purchasing a turkey is a commitment to finding as many ways as possible to use the meat, because sometimes you just can’t face another turkey sandwich.
Once you’ve eaten your turkey down to the bone, don’t get rid of it. The carcass is a goldmine of flavor and rich gelatin just waiting to be turned into a delicious turkey stock that you can use straightaway or freeze for up to four months for use later on.
Making stock seems like a mysterious process that only professional chefs bother with, but it is a very straightforward process that requires very little active time on your part. And at the end of the day, you’ll be left with a flavorful, somewhat gelatinous stock that will add not only depth but lip-smacking mouth feel to any dish in which you choose to use it.
Preparing Turkey Stock
Making stock is an extraction process. As such, you have a fair amount of latitude in choosing the vegetables and seasonings that you put in, but there are some vegetables that are common to many stocks that you should certainly add to your stock pot. First, let’s look at the process of making a stock and then we can consider additions.
Pick as much meat off of the turkey carcass as you can, and reserve for soup or turkey salad. Place the whole turkey carcass in a large stockpot. Add large chunks of vegetables and a few whole spices and sprigs of herbs. Fill the stock pot with cold water to cover the ingredients by about an inch.
Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the water reaches a fairly active simmer, adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles gently. You do not want the stock to boil, as this will lead to too much evaporation. Also, the proteins and fats being released from the bones can emulsify and make the stock cloudy. This will not affect the final flavor of the dish, but if you want a pretty and clear stock, make sure the stock does not boil.
As the stock simmers, a layer of grayish protein foam will rise to the surface. Carefully skim this off with a large spoon or a ladle. Let the stock simmer for several hours, adding a bit of water as necessary to maintain the volume. You should not have too much evaporation, though, if you have maintained a slow simmer. You will know when the vegetables and bones have given up all of their flavor when you can snap a small turkey bone in half with very little effort.
Strain the stock through a fine strainer, pressing down on the solids. Discard the solids, and strain the stock again. If you are going to use the stock immediately, carefully skim off the fat that rises to the top. If not, you can leave the fat on as it can be more easily removed when solidified.
You will want to chill the stock very quickly. You can carefully pour the stock into a metal bowl inside a larger metal bowl that has ice in it (an ice bath) and stir until the stock has cooled. Another way to chill the stock quickly is to freeze plastic bottles of water and place them in the stock to cool it.
Standard Turkey Stock:
1 turkey carcass
1-2 yellow onions (skin on), cleaned and cut in half
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut in half
2 ribs celery (leaves included), cut in half
2-3 bay leaves
10-12 whole peppercorns
Cold water, to cover by 1”
Other additions or substitutions
Use leeks, well washed, instead of onions
Add 1 head of garlic, cut in half (or just a couple of whole cloves)
You can leave out the celery; some people say it makes stock bitter, although I haven’t found this to be the case.
Chinese-Style Turkey Stock
In addition to the standard ingredients, add:
a ½” piece of fresh ginger
2 whole star anise pods
Italian-Style Turkey Stock
In addition to the standard ingredients, add:
white wine (about 1/8 of the amount of water)
2 tomatoes, quartered and seeded
2-3 tarragon sprigs or stems
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What Can I Make with Turkey Stock?
Turkey stock is just as flavorful as chicken stock. However, since most people are not familiar with turkey stock, if you serve them soup made with turkey stock, they will most likely wonder why the chicken soup tastes so good! Here are some other ideas.
Make a creamy risotto. Use it as the base for all sorts of soups.
Use it as a sauce component for stir-fries.
Use it as a braising liquid for stews.
Use it to cook vegetables.
Here are a few recipes you may want to try:
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