Friday Findings #7: Making Turkey Stock

[box] One of my personal challenges in life is to keep learning and trying something new. This series is a documentary on some of the things I am learning, whether it be as a child of God, wife, mother, homemaker, teacher, friend. I invite you to learn along with me![/box] It seems like every year, I end up looking up how to use my turkey carcass to make stock. It's usually an afterthought with me, as I am usually so wrapped up with getting the main meal together that I'm not usually thinking about what to do with what's left. There are probably a bazillion recipes out there, but I came across this one that I really liked because it is simple and delicious. (If you want to see the video, you can find it on this page at Something Edible.)

I also liked it because being a nerdy kind of girl, I like to know the science behind it all. In the recipe I found for today, I learned several things about making stock:

  • Stock and broth are not the same thing. I learned from The Kitchn that while they are similar, there is a slight difference. Stock is unseasoned; broth is seasoned with salt and spices. Stock is more of the neutral base; broth is "seasoned stock." For this reason, there is no salt added to this recipe, only vegetables---and that is added later in the cooking time. The benefit of this is that you can use the stock in a wider variety of recipes, at which time you can add your salt as needed.
  • Slow cooking the stock (as opposed to boiling it on the stove), does take a bit longer but gives the stock time to extract all that flavor that is in the carcass. It turns what was once inedible into gelatin, which holds lots of flavor.
  • You'll know when you've done it correctly when, after chilling, your stock looks like loose jello. On the post, there is picture of his cooled stock with a spoon sitting on top of it.
  • Add the vegetables towards the end of the cooking time so that the stock retains its aromatic flavor.

We had a large bird this year, almost 23 pounds, so I actually split this up into two. The recipe on the site requires the carcass of a 12-14 pound bird, so this was perfect. If your bird is smaller, then put in the whole carcass. You may need to cut it in half to fit.

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It really was very simple. I took half the bones and put it into the crock pot, then poured nine cups of water in. The crock was about 3/4 full. Then I turned it on low for six hours.

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After six hours, I cut up 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks (with leaves), and a yellow onion into chunks. Oh the aroma!

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Push the vegetables evenly around the pot. Put the lid back on, and let it cook for another two hours.

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In two hours, it looked like this. Not too appetizing right now, but don't let that stop you!

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Then I picked out all the big stuff with some tongs, then used a slotted spoon to catch up some of the stuff that sunk to the bottom. Be careful of the hot liquid! I got splashed a little. As recommended on the video, I did not save what came out. Nor do we have a dog, so I just tossed it.

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When I was done, it looked like this. There was still a bit of little pieces floating on top, but not to worry! The next step will take care of that.

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Prepare a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl.

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Using a ladle, I gently poured the stock to strain through the cheesecloth.

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This takes care of all those little bits and pieces and leaves behind a nice clear, rich stock. So beautiful!

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Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Skim off what's left on the top. No need to save that.

Yield: I was expecting to get back less than the 9 cups I put in (the original recipe stated a yield of 6 cups), but I got pretty much all of it back. Not too bad! I wonder if it will be diluted. I'll need to repeat this with the other half of the carcass.

I'm going to use my stock right away in this Delicious After-the-Holiday Turkey-Rice Soup. It will use up 12 cups of the stock. But if you want to freeze it, there's a great suggestion on the post/video to freeze in 1 pint (2 cup) portions. That's like a can you buy at the store. You'll need to slightly heat (not too much, just to melt the "jello") before pouring into one-quart freezer bags. Squeeze out excess air, then lay flat on a cookie sheet to freeze. The result: flat sheets of turkey stock that are easy to store and quick to defrost. (Unlike what I did last year in plastic containers that were very bulky). I read somewhere else that you can also freeze it in ice cube trays if you just need a little shot of it in your cooking.

There are a lot of other uses for turkey stock besides making soup. Risotto seems like a good option, or simply cooking your rice in stock instead of plain water. Some people like to add a few spoonfuls early on while sauteeing vegetables, resulting in some very tasty veggies. Others like to add it to marinara sauces, gravy, stews, pot pies and such for more body. Whenever you would need a can of chicken broth, that is a good place to substitute with your homemade turkey stock.

Not a bad way to use up the whole turkey!