Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

I am always dismayed (and disheartened) at how many people toss a turkey carcass after the turkey dinner. To me, that is such a waste as there is a lot of goodness in that turkey carcass and it makes great homemade turkey stock that can be used in many recipes.

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey

A good poultry stock is a handy staple to have on hand in the cook’s kitchen (or freezer).  The stock can be used as the base for soups, sauces, braised dishes, and gravies and it can also be used when called for in any number of different recipes and other dishes. One of the best things about a homemade stock is that you know what is in it, there are no preservatives, and the amount of salt can be controlled.

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

I usually cook turkeys that are in the 7-9 pound range. Therefore, my recipe below for turkey stock is based on the carcass from this weight range of turkey.  However, this recipe is scalable meaning, if you cook a smaller turkey, reduce the amount of ingredients proportionately and, likewise, if you cook a larger turkey, add additional measures of the ingredients called for in the recipe.

If it is not convenient to make the turkey stock right after the turkey has been roasted and carved (or the next day), simply bag up the carcass in to an airtight zippered freezer bag and toss it in the freezer and make the stock later.  In fact, at the time of writing, I have three turkey carcasses in the freezer waiting to be made in to stock whenever I need it. And that’s in addition to 16 cups of stock already made and frozen!

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

So, to prepare the carcass for stock making, remove all the meat you want from the carcass and use it for other purposes (or cube it up and freeze it for later use in soups or casseroles).  Leave some bits of meat on the carcass. Now, it is entirely possible to make the turkey stock with just the carcass of the roasted turkey (and some aromatics and seasonings, of course) and I have often done so.  However, by adding 2 more pounds of turkey pieces, the result will be a deepened flavor of the stock.  These can be any kind of turkey pieces at all so long as they still have bone-in -– legs, wings, thighs. Generally, I buy whatever is on sale at the time.  Brush a light coating of oil over these turkey pieces and place them in a greased roasting pan.  Place them, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to prevent fat splatters), in a preheated 425°F oven for 25-35 minutes, turning once or twice during the roasting.  Remove the turkey pieces and transfer them to a heatproof dish.  Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up all the brown bits and drippings from the roasting pan. Add about ½ to ¾ cup or so of water to the roasting pan to deglaze it over medium heat, stirring up the brown bits. This will deepen the flavor of the stock when it is added to it.

You will need a very large stock pot to make this stock – one that can accommodate the size of turkey carcass you are using, two additional pounds of turkey pieces, all the veggies, and 16 cups of water. Although possible, I don’t bother breaking down the carcass unless I need to do so to get it to fit in the stock pot.  Add everything to the pot, skin included, from both the carcass and additional turkey pieces along with the liquid from the deglazed pan.

Turkey stock can be very bland if it does not have enough seasonings added to it. That’s why I add some aromatic and flavourful vegetables – carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, celery, rutabaga, mushrooms, and a hefty dose of garlic. There is no need to peel the vegetables (except for the rutabaga that often has a wax coating).  Just make sure the vegetables are very well washed.  You want all the flavour and colour you can get from the vegetables, some of which is contained in the skins/peelings which will later be discarded anyway once the stock is cooked and strained.  Celery is a big flavour agent in this stock and that’s why, in addition to the five ribs of celery called for in the recipe, the celery leaves and the celery stalk base are used to intensify the flavour. While an optional ingredient, any kind of mushrooms can be used in the stock – I usually use the white button or cremini variety.

Fresh herbs can, of course, be used in this recipe (and I do use them when it is gardening season and I have them fresh). However, I have given amounts for dried herbs because we don’t all have access to quality fresh herbs year-round.  Even though this stock will be strained, I still like to gather up all the dried herbs and spices into a bouquet garni because it corrals them and keeps the stock cleaner.  To make the bouquet garni, cut an 8” square of double layer of cheesecloth, place the herbs and spices in the center, gather up the cheesecloth, and tie it with string.  Add this lovely aromatic sachet to the stock pot.  As the stock simmers, it will be infused by the herbs and spices. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, and sea salt.  The vinegar will extract the collagen, nutrients, and minerals from the bones through the slow simmering process.  Because only a small amount of vinegar is used, it will not leave a negative taste to the stock.

Bring the ingredients almost, but not quite, to the boiling point over medium-high heat.  It’s critical that this stock NEVER boil – that will make it cloudy and the look you’re aiming for is a clear, translucent liquid. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.  The temperature of the liquid should reach and stay around the 200°F point. A candy thermometer is useful to verify the heat from time to time as the stock simmers. If the temperature of the liquid dips below 200°F, simply increase the heat just a bit to bring the temperature back up to the simmering point. If it exceeds 200°F, drop the heat back. It’s okay if you see tiny bubbles forming but they should not break the surface of the liquid. The other tip to a translucent stock is not to stir it as it is simmering. This will stir everything up and can cause clouding to occur, resulting in a murky stock. While a cloudy stock will not affect its flavour, a translucent stock is more eye appealing.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

As the mixture is simmering, you will likely notice some fat from the bones rising to the surface. Periodically take a large spoon and skim this fat away and discard it.  Don’t cover the stockpot while the stock is simmering as it is more difficult to keep the liquid at the simmering point if it is covered. Also, some reduction of the liquid is required in order to achieve desired flavour. If you find that too much of the stock is evaporating too quickly, add a bit more cold water to ensure all the ingredients are submerged in the liquid. However, be cautious about adding too much water as it will dilute the flavour of the stock.

This stock can simmer away for up to 8 hours. However, I find 5-6 hours is generally sufficient. Once the stock has simmered for this length of time, remove it from the heat and strain it.  To do this, line a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Place the colander over a clean stock pot and pour the stock into the colander.  Discard the remaining solids – i.e., the bones, vegetables, meat, and bouquet garni.  Because the meat that came off the carcass and the turkey pieces has been simmered for hours and served its purpose, it is tough and is of no significant nutritional value so I discard it. Sometimes, I find the meat after this process can have an offputting flavor so it’s not the best to use in soups or casseroles.

Wash the original stock pot in which the mixture had been simmering. Place a new piece of double-layer dampened cheesecloth in a fine wire mesh sieve and place the sieve over the clean stock pot.  Pour the stock through the sieve.  This second straining will help ensure a clear stock, free of all impurities. Place this stockpot containing the strained stock into a large sink filled with ice water to cool it quickly.  Skim off any further solidified fat as the stock cools. Place the cooled, strained stock in the refrigerator to chill completely (this will take several hours or overnight, even) then remove any remaining solidified fat from the stock’s surface.  For more intense flavored stock, it can be placed back on the stove at medium-low heat and simmered until reduced to one-half the amount, yielding a stronger, more concentrated flavour but there will obviously be less quantity.

So, apart from the necessity to use the right ingredients in the stock, the three big tips I have for making a clear, high quality stock are:  1) Don’t boil it; 2) Don’t stir it; and 3) Don’t cover it while it simmers.  Basically, put the ingredients in a large stockpot, get the liquid to the simmering point, and let it be to do its thing.

This stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days or it can be frozen for up to six months, at this point, in freezer-safe containers of desired size.  I usually freeze and label mine in different quantities based on what recipe I intend using it in. I will often freeze some stock in ice cube containers and use them for flavoring dishes, like rice or steamed vegetables, or stir fries where smaller amounts may be needed.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey Stock

Ingredients:
Carcass (with some meat left on it) from 7-9 lb roasted turkey
2 lbs fresh cut up turkey pieces

1 tsp mixed peppercorns
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried coriander
1 tsp dried summer savory
3 whole cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
1 whole star anise pod

16 cups cold water
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
1½ – 2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste

1 large onion, skin on, halved
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise
2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
Celery stalk base + 5 celery ribs and leaves (celery ribs cut into 3” chunks)
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, skins on the cloves
3 slices rutabaga, about ¾” thick, peeled and sliced in half
2 large parsnips, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
6-8 mushrooms (button or cremini), halved (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush thin coating of cooking oil over raw turkey pieces. Place turkey pieces in greased baking pan.  Roast, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to avoid splatters in oven) for about 25-35 minutes, turning with tongs after 15 minutes.  Remove turkey pieces from oven and transfer to heatproof dish.  Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left in roasting pan. Mix with approximately ½ – ¾ cup of warm water. Heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.

Place turkey carcass and turkey pieces into large stock pot along with the browned liquid from the roasted turkey pieces.

Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried herbs and spices together in the center and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni.  Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).

Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup, or so).  Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock.

Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth.  Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it.  Discard the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.

Wash original stock pot in which the stock was made. Line a fine mesh sieve with a new piece of double layer of damp cheesecloth and place over the clean stock pot. Pour stock through sieve to remove any remaining solids, stray herbs, etc.

Place stockpot containing the strained stock in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly.  Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock.

Use stock immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Alternatively, pour stock into freezer-safe containers of desired size and freeze for future use.

Yield:  Apx. 16 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

NOTE:  Strained stock may be reheated over medium-low heat and reduced to one-half. This will yield a stronger flavored and more concentrated product but, naturally, there will be less quantity.

Straining the stock twice through a cheesecloth-lined colander/fine mesh sieve will yield a clearer stock, free of any impurities.

This recipe is scalable – if you have a smaller turkey frame, reduce quantities of ingredients; if it is a larger frame, increase quantities proportionately.

 

Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Turkey carcass, combined with a blend of herbs and spices and aromatic and flavorful vegetables, makes healthy and tasty homemade turkey stock
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 Carcass (with some meat left on it) from 7-9 lb roasted turkey
  • 2 lbs fresh cut up turkey pieces
  • 1 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory
  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 1 whole star anise pod
  • 16 cups cold water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, skin on, halved
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise
  • 2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
  • 5 celery ribs with leaves+ celery stalk base (celery ribs cut into 3" chunks)
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise, skins on the cloves
  • 3 slices rutabaga, about ¾” thick, peeled and sliced in half
  • 2 large parsnips, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
  • 6-8 mushrooms (button or cremini), halved (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush thin coating of cooking oil over raw turkey pieces. Place turkey pieces in greased baking pan. Roast, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to avoid splatters in oven) for about 25-35 minutes, turning with tongs after 15 minutes. Remove turkey pieces from oven and transfer to heatproof dish. Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left in roasting pan. Mix with approximately ½ - ¾ cup of warm water. Heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Place turkey carcass and turkey pieces into large stock pot along with the browned liquid from the roasted turkey pieces.
  3. Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried herbs and spices together in the center and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).
  4. Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup, or so). Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock.
  5. Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it. Discard the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.
  6. Wash original stock pot in which the stock was made. Line a fine mesh sieve with a new piece of double layer of damp cheesecloth and place over the clean stock pot. Pour stock through sieve to remove any remaining solids, stray herbs, etc.
  7. Place stockpot containing the strained stock in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly. Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock.
  8. Use stock immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Alternatively, pour stock into freezer-safe containers of desired size and freeze for future use. Yield: Apx. 16 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Strained stock may be reheated over medium-low heat and reduced to one-half. This will yield a stronger flavored and more concentrated product but, naturally, there will be less quantity.

Note 2: Straining the stock twice through a cheesecloth-lined colander/fine mesh sieve will yield a clearer stock, free of any impurities.

Note 3: This recipe is scalable – if you have a smaller turkey frame, reduce quantities of ingredients; if it is a larger frame, increase quantities proportionately.

Be sure to read the accompanying blog post to this recipe as it contains additional information and tips on making turkey stock.

For my recipe for homemade Beef Stock, click here.

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Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock