Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Make Turkey Stock


Learning how to make turkey stock is a topic most of you aren't thinking about right this minute, but in a few days it may be on your mind. Personally I believe you can't really make good turkey soup without turkey stock, and one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is making the house smell good with the big roasting pan of turkey bones and veggies simmering on the stove. I've been making turkey stock for years, but I'm not a stock purist; I think a little Penzeys Turkey Soup Base is a good thing. But even if you didn't remember to order that in time, read on; there are some tricks to making turkey stock taste good.


Start with as many turkey scraps as you can possibly save from the turkey, including things like skin and bones that you might otherwise throw away. Don't add turkey "giblets" which often come packed inside the turkey.

Along with the turkey scraps and bones, be sure to include a generous amount of chopped onion, celery, and carrots. This is a good place to use things like the celery ends or leaves that get cut off. I leave the vegetables in fairly big pieces so they're easier to scoop out at the end.

Put the turkey scraps and bones, carrots, celery, and onion into a soup pot, add some thyme and sage and a bit of Penzeys Turkey Soup Base and cover with water. If you have a big roasting pan that you cooked your turkey in, simmer the stock right in the pan, which will let all those browned bits of turkey and skin get cooked off and they'll add flavor to your stock. This is a familiar sight on my stove the day after Thanksgiving.

If you don't have Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, another brand I've used is Better Than Bouillon, which is sold in many grocery stores. I recommended it back in 2005, before I tried the Penzeys brand. I would use it if I didn't have Penzeys, but think Penzeys has more real turkey flavor.

Tips for Making Flavorful Turkey Stock

~Save the entire turkey carcass, including any bits of skin or things like wing tips that are cut off before cooking the turkey. Leave a bit of meat on the bones when you're stripping the carcass.

~Put turkey carcass into a big stock pot with water to cover, leaving a bit of room to add vegetables.

~Add a generous amount of cut-up carrots, celery, and onions to the stock pot.

~Add dried thyme (about 1/2 tsp. per quart of water) and dried sage (about 1/4 tsp. per quart of water.) You can also use a blend of spices called Poultry Seasoning if you prefer.

~Adding a small amount of turkey soup base can really increase the flavor of the stock. I prefer Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, but I've also used Better Than Bouillon brand. If you don't have either of these, you could add a tiny bit of soy sauce or some Kitchen Bouquet to give the turkey stock a bit more flavor and color.

~Let the stock simmer all day on the stove, adding more water as needed. I usually start with a small amount of turkey soup base, thyme, and sage, and then after a few hours I taste to see if I want to add more of those ingredients.

~When you're ready to stop cooking the stock, use a fine-mesh skimmer to remove the vegetables, or strain the stock through a fine strainer into a different pot. Taste for flavor and simmer to reduce until the flavor is as concentrated as you want it. (If you're not going to use it right away and you have limited freezer space, you can boil it down to a very small amount and add water when you use it.

~If the stock seems fatty, use a fat separator to remove fat, or put the stock in the fridge overnight and the fat will rise to the top where you can scoop it off.

~Frozen stock will keep in the freezer for at least six months, and delicious turkey soup will taste good all winter!

Turkey Soup Recipes using Turkey Stock and Leftover Turkey:
Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans and Lime
Turkey Barley Soup
Turkey and Wild Rice Soup with Cabbage, Parsley, and Sage
Leftover Turkey Soup with Double Mushrooms
Leftover Turkey, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Soup
(There are more turkey soup recipes with the Thanksgiving Recipes.)
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35 comments:

jesse said...

YUM! Would you believe I've never HAD turkey stock before?? I've always stuck with chicken or pork... wow, a whole new animal for me to tinker around with! Thank you!

bee said...

happy thanksgiving, dear kalyn.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I agree -- turkey stock is a very happy by-product of the whole turkey roasting tradition. I always make stock on the day after Thanksgiving.

Kalyn said...

Jesse, if you're roasting turkey you MUST make turkey stock. It's delish.

Bee, you're always so thoughtful. Spreading nice greetings around the web! Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too. We have a lot to be thankful for, don't we!

Lydia, in my family I'm famous for it. Even before I say anything someone will say "Don't throw away the turkey carcass, Kalyn will want it."

Susy said...

I always make stock!!! Sometimes I roast the leftover bones in the oven until they're brown to make a richer stock.

Kalyn said...

Susy, you're brilliant! I love the idea of roasting the bones. I've done that with beef stock, but not turkey, but I bet it makes a difference.

Peter M said...

I just enjoyed a soup from saved turkey (yum). A valuable lesson here, thanks for sharing.

Tammy said...

I'm a turkey stock fan! Great directions, I bet your post-Thanksgiving day soup is awesome. For color I simmer onion skins with the rest of the veggies. Turns everything a lovely dark brown.

Kalyn said...

Peter, I agree, turkey soup is great!

Tammy, good tip about the onion skins. I'll try that for sure. Thanks!

Jeanne said...

Great tips, Kalyn. People think making stock is this difficult and mystical activity but it couldn't be easier, and nothing tastes better in soups than home-made stock...

Cape Cod Kitty said...

That is such a great explanation of how to produce wonderful turkey stock, Kaylyn!
When I am not roasting a whole turkey, I am able to buy a package of fresh turkey wings at my local market. I roast them with veggie and then make broth using your method. As you say, it is wonderful to have in the freezer.

Kalyn said...

Thanks Jeanne. I think I'm addicted to making stock. Makes the house smell great.

CCK, love that idea of roasting turkey wings and using them to make stock. Thanks for sharing.

~M said...

I love stock - beef, chicken, turkey, it's all good. The richer/more gelatinous the better.

Someone suggested to me to add mushrooms (but no grains or dairy so unlike your turkey-rice-mushroom version) to turkey stock/soup to add a savory meatiness since turkey is so lean...basically, not to make turkey soup/stock like chicken soup/stock. Since you're the stock queen (hehe), I thought I'd ask for your opinions. Would you add it to the stock-making part or the post strained part (when you add fresh carrots, onions, celery, etc. too)? Thanks for your input!

Kalyn said...

~M, I would probably make the turkey stock, and then add the mushrooms to the soup, but I think you could do it either way. I've never made stock with mushrooms and I'm not sure how they would react with the long cooking.

Jessica said...

I just got a 17# turkey from my farmers market and I'm not even hosting Tgiving. So I cut it up and am freezing the pieces-parts. My question is about using a FRESH turkey back for stock. What happens when you use fresh turkey? Is the resulting stock appreciably different? Or should I roast it ahead of time. I was thinking to skip this, since the whole point is that I'm not cooking any turkey right now.

Kalyn said...

Jessica, you can definitely use raw turkey parts to make stock. I do think the roasting adds some flavor, but probably not significantly better. I make chicken stock with raw chicken all the time.

Ben Kessel said...

Hi Kalyn,

I'm a first time turkey stock maker! I used your recipe to make stock out of a holiday turkey we received for the Christmas...with a slight modification. I put it in the crock pot for about 24 hours or so. Everything seems fine, however I put the stock in the fridge to get the fat to congeal, and the whole thing turned to a jelly-is this okay?

Thanks for the recipe!
-Ben

Kalyn said...

Ben, that's not a problem. When you reheat the stock it will liquefy again. Isn't it fun to make stock?

Anonymous said...

This article was very helpful, in spite of being a few years old. I will bookmark it and use again. My turkey stock is simmering away on the stove right now. I'm not sure about how important it is to skim the foam, but I guess I'll see how much I get!

I added rosemary because I have some left in the garden that hasn't been kissed by frostbite yet. I also added some of the roasted onions that were in the turkey when it was roasting. It smells great already! Thanks again.

Kalyn said...

Hope you enjoy the stock. I'm making some turkey at my stock right now too!

Mary Michela said...

D'oh! I already put my giblets, plus the water I was simmering them in into the stock pot. Why should I not use the giblets/neck?? Did I just ruin the whole thing? I haven't put the whole kit n kabooble on the stove yet. I was going to do that tomorrow. Should I try to find the giblets and neck and remove? Please explain! Thank you very much! :)

Kalyn said...

Mary, certain parts of the giblets are really strong flavored, so depending on exactly what is in the giblet pack, it may make the flavor a bit off.

Anonymous said...

i love making homemade stock! I typically throw in the leftover carcasses, whatever scraps I have; 2-3 onions cut in half, a few bay leaves, celery, carrots, whole peppercorns,garlic clove(s),sliced lengthwise, and parsley. I like to bring it to a boil for about ten minutes and then I simmer for as long as I can. I then strain the stock and return it to the stove and power boil it for 10-20 minutes. I put the pot in the sink and surround it with ice and cold water for a quick cool down. I ladle it into freezer containers and enjoy! Homemade stock makes such a difference when making any dish. Good luck!

~M said...

That's so interesting that you toss the giblets...the only one I've ever heard to keep out is the liver. Our turkey stock (made with the remaining giblets and carcass) is so tasty this year! Happy holidays!

Kalyn said...

~M, I do think you're right that it's main the liver that's strongly flavored, but in writing a post about this I'm not sure how to explain to people who've never made stock (or possibly never seen giblets) what parts are good and which aren't, so it seemed best to say to leave them out.

Anonymous said...

You say to use large chunks of vegetables - my question is, do you use them when you make the soup, or start with fresh vegetables?

Kalyn said...

Not completely sure I understand the question, but I'm talking about adding vegetables to the stock here. The veggies get thrown away, but they add a lot of flavor to the stock liquid. This is a good way to use vegetable scraps (I save them in the freezer.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I was referring to after you cool the stock and then skim the fat off it. I like to add vegetables and noodles to make a good soup but wasn't sure whether the vegetables could be reused.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch, I almost threw that turkey carcass away. Now its in my pot and I am on a mission to get some homemade stock. On the menu tonight is Turkey Pot Pie courtesy of allrecipes.com, featuring my left over Christmas bird and my homemade stock. Thanks again.

chronicbliss said...

I made turkey stock for the first time this year. I used 3 turkey carcasses (2 friends were nice enough to bring me theirs), stuffed them all in my biggest stock pot, and simmered them with veggies, garlic cloves, and fresh/frozen herbs for an entire day. After that I just plop the whole pot (covered) into an insulated cooler full of ice on the kitchen floor (putting it in the fridge would just heat the fridge). The next day I skimmed the fat off the top and bagged it up to freeze. I got 8 quart freezer bags out of it. I plan to use it for noodle soup and matzo ball soup since my last batch of chicken stock only lasted half the winter.

Kalyn said...

I want those friends who give you turkey carcasses!

Jeff Cardinal said...

Just curious to know, do you keep the vegetables after draining the stock and put them back in, or do you get rid of them? Seems like a waste to get rid of them.

Kalyn Denny said...

The vegetables and the meat are both pretty flavorless after they've been cooked for hours in the stock, but you could use the vegetables in your compost pile if you have one.

Emily said...

This is a fabulous post, thank you! I just made stock with Thanksgiving leftovers, including about a pound of cooked carrots. I'm not sure how much they added to the flavor, but I thought I'd try to get everything out of them before I threw them out!

Kalyn Denny said...

Emily, great idea to use the carrots. Glad you liked the post.

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