When you really think about it, the whole Thanksgiving meal is one giant twofer. Next-day leftovers are just as important as the perfect day-of meal. The turkey, however, is even more generous. You get the bird on day one; the leftover meat for sandwiches, enchiladas and chilis in the days after; and then you get this glorious sunny stock from the bones and bits leftover even after the meat is gone.
When it comes to making turkey stock, the best turkey is roasted turkey. Because we roast a larger bird, the leftover bones and bits of meat are plenty for making stock. Stock- and broth-making is typically dependent on collagen from the bones for thickening, and even roasted bones contain a fair amount. This stock won’t set up as thickly as gelatin, but it will still be plenty rich and full of body.
Are you’re thinking, “You really want me to make turkey stock after I’ve already spent hours cooking a glorious feast?” Let me tell you my secret: While I’m prepping for Thanksgiving, I prep for the stock as well. I put a gallon-sized zip-top bag in the refrigerator, throw a few ribs of chopped celery in there when I make dressing, chop extra carrots while making grazed carrots, and put the neck bone in there after I prep the turkey. When we’re done eating turkey, when the bird is picked clean, I have a pre-made kit for turkey stock requiring nothing more than water, a hot pot and patience.
Because the turkey has been seasoned before roasting, season the stock after it has cooked. A few stems of herbs, such as parsley or thyme, are nice additions to the stock while cooking, as are peppercorns, but these are purely optional.
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Once you’ve made the stock, what can you do with it? Let’s start with the obvious, of course: Make soup. Once you’ve had your fill, try the stock in a delicious risotto or braise greens in this golden elixir.
1 cooked turkey carcass (about 4 pounds), meat mostly removed and bones broken into large pieces
2 large onions, quartered
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Few stems of fresh parsley or thyme (optional)
Combine the turkey, onions, celery, and carrots in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover, about 1 gallon.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Use tongs to transfer the big bones and vegetables from the stockpot to the strainer. When only small bits remain, pour the stock through the strainer and into the bowl. If you’d like a cleaner, clearer stock, clean out your strainer, line it with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and strain the stock again into another bowl or clean pot.
If not using immediately, divide the stock between several small jars or storage containers. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze for up to three months.
Yield: About 2 quarts