Homemade Turkey Stock
1 turkey carcass, plus any skin
8 large garlic cloves
4 stalks of celery, broken into 3-4 inch pieces
10 – 20 sprigs parsley
1 onion, cut into quarters or eighths
2 – 3 carrots, cut into 3-4 inch chunks (optional)
Remove as much meat as you can from the turkey carcass and set aside for another use. Break up the carcass and pack snugly into a large stock pot (10 qts is an ideal size, though make do with what you have — I used one 5 qt pot and one 2 1/2 qt pot). Peel the garlic cloves and add to the pot along with the celery, parsley, onion, and carrots if using. Pour cold, clean water over the mixture to just cover the solids. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a tremulous simmer and cook for no fewer than 4 hours. Skim white foam and gunk off the top of the stock as it appears. If liquid level drops below the solids, bring a kettle of water to a boil, then add more water.
Strain mixture into a large bowl, discarding the solids. Stock will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. Enjoy!
Serving suggestion: Ladle homemade stock over cooked brown rice and bits of leftover turkey, along with some dried sage. Heat gently and serve warm.
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Somehow I ended up with a large turkey carcass in my refrigerator at the close of yesterday evening. Funny, since Thanksgiving was not at my house, and I was not in charge of cooking the turkey. No, Steven and I spent the day at my sister’s place in San Francisco along with my brother in law and his whole family who had flown in from as far away as Hong Kong. There were twelve of us in all, though two are under three feet tall and prefer juice boxes and toy cars to fine wine and kitchen gadgets.
My sister and I don’t always see eye to eye on food, especially when it comes to vegetable selections. She always suggests asparagus, and for 11 months of the year, I tell her it is out of season. She then tells me that it’s asparagus season in South America or somewhere of the sort. I protest some more. Then she usually wins. Actually, I’d say she always wins :). In fact, it has sort of become the running joke in the family, and the words ‘asparagus’, ‘high horse’, and ‘soapbox’ are playfully thrown in my direction.
But anyhow, at the end of the evening after helping with cleanup, Alisha informed me that I was to take the turkey carcass home (along with about 10 pounds of other various leftovers – I’m not exaggerating — 2 1/2 qts of stuffing, 1/2 qt of mashed potatoes, 1/2 quart gravy, 1/2 pint of cranberry sauce, leftover cocktail shrimp, home cured gravlax, a dozen dinner rolls, and at least a pound of sliced turkey breast). OK, it was more like, “this all is going to get thrown away if you don’t take it home with you”. I couldn’t in good conscience let all of that delicious and lovingly prepared food go to waste, so I packed up a super-sized dogie bag and headed home with plans for turkey stock and all other sorts of leftover creations.
Making stock is not an exact science, it just takes a while. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s a great way to spend a lazy weekend morning, and by following a few basic procedures, you will inevitably end up with homemade stock that is far more delicious and much more fresh tasting than anything you buy at the store. Some stock tips are:
- break the bones into smallish pieces and pack snugly into pot; you will use less liquid and hence have less stock, but it will be more flavorful
- use good quality vegetables in the stock; they needn’t be perfect, but if it’s on it way to slimy, don’t use it as you will taste the rank flavors in the stock
- don’t add any salt until the end of the cooking time, and only add it if necessary.
- skim the stock often, at least every 10 minutes or so at the start of cooking, then less frequently later on
- resist the urge to stir the stock — the end product will be more clear the less the stock is disturbed
Happy stock making!