Oct 27

Perfect Turkey Stock

Perfect Turkey Stock

I have  a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving.  I love to cook, I love to entertain and I love to eat.  Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving with high anticipation and every year by 4:00 on Thanksgiving day I’m in bed cuddled up with a bottle of wine and a bad attitude saying “I will NEVER EVER do this again!”

I typically start cooking on Tuesday and don’t stop until we sit down to eat.  My post gastric bypass sized stomach means I’m done eating in roughly 10 minutes (but there are leftovers!).  Then I get up and do dishes because guests shouldn’t.  I  usually miss the parade either because I’m cooking, or because my Dad arrives and declares that the addition of Broadway acts ruined the parade and immediately changes the channel.

This year my little condo is going to be home to 9 people and 2 dogs.  Typically we are 3 people and one dog.  There will be people (I love) everywhere and, I’m sure they are going to try to help.  That’s another post for another day, but I dread help.  I’m a very bad delegater and I’m a complete control freak.  Help me by making sure my wine glass is full and staying in the living room.

Anyway, this post is about to spiral into a full blown rant and rave which was not my intention.  My intention was to write about stock.  Michael Ruhlman is nearly religious about stock, and so am I.  I’m that way for two reasons, one, because it’s so much less expensive and two, because homemade stock is so much better.  You may not realize it but stock is the foundation of your meal.  It will determine the flavor of your stuffing, your mashed potatoes, your gravy, and maybe even some of your vegetable side dishes.  If you look at it this way you can see the negative impact bad or even mediocre stock will have on a dish.

I have some rules or declarations about stock:

  1. Stock is NOT hard to make.  Stock IS time consuming.  They are not the same thing.
  2. Stock should be simple.  Simple doesn’t mean flavorless, it meas simple.  Don’t over salt, don’t add strong spices.  Use aromatic vegetables, parsley, bones and meat.  You can add all the herbs you like and spices to whatever you make with the stock.  If you add the spices while making the stock you limit your cooking choices later.
  3. Stock should be clear.

I know I’ve made a good stock when I absolutely can’t resist putting it in a coffee cup and having some.  Which technically means I’ve made broth.  (Broth is intended to be served, stock is intended to be the foundation of another dish).  This batch of stock was so good I had two cups with the brioche I made.

Last year I violated rule number 2.  I can’t remember which magazine I was reading, but all their recipes for stock had parsnips and lots of onion.  At the time I was not aware of the fact that I don’t like parsnips or that the recommended amount of onion was overpowering.  Further they suggested additional seasonings that that rendered the stock unpleasant in my opinion.  As a result last year I truly hated my gravy and stuffing.  As you can tell, I’m STILL pouting about it.

After that dismal result I spent a lot of time experimenting with stock.  I made it with more vegetables, more herbs I cooked it faster, lower.  I tried everything only to realize that I prefer the most simple stock flavorings: a couple carrots, a couple ribs of celery and my secret — leeks (rather than onions).  Lots of bones and low and slow cooking.

I made what amounted to a 1 1/2 gallons of stock for roughly $6.   We bought two packages of turkey wings — roughly 6 pounds for about $5.  I like using wings to make stock because the meat is cheap so if I don’t reuse it I don’t feel guilty and wings are bony — so there’s lots body to the stock.   I cut the wings into three pieces (at the joints) and distributed them in two pots.  I covered with cold water and brought them to a full boil.  This releases blood and impurities and prevents your stock from developing a scum.  Once the wings came to a boil I removed them from the pot, rinsed them and thoroughly rinsed the pots out.  (This is important, the bits clinging to the pot are not frond, they are the scum which will give your stock an off flavor).

Then I returned the wings to the pots and covered them with cold water added salt and put them over medium low heat (about 4 on my electric stove).

I put my remote thermometer in and set it to alert at 165 — my goal was to keep the water below 170.  I learned this from Michael Ruhlman’s “The Elements of Cooking.”  Boiling creates scum and introduces impurities that prevent the stock from being clear.  A little something interesting; both of the pots I used are the same size (7qt) both are Le Creuset but the oval shaped pot held more heat.

Notice — the vegetables are not in the pot yet.

After the stock had simmered for about 3 hours (I checked it often and used color not the clock as my guide.  I was looking to see body and a light gold color).  Now I was ready to add vegetables.  I used two leeks, 4 carrots and the heart of one stalk of celery as my vegetables.  Using a large saute pan and working in batches I caramelized the vegetables.  This added color and flavor.

I let the stock simmer about 30 minutes longer and removed the bones and vegetables.

I strained the stock twice using cheesecloth and did my best to skim the fat off.  After it cooled I refrigerated it and removed the rest of the fat then I transferred it to pint sized containers and froze it.

The photo at the top is my finished stock.  If you want to know more I highly recommend Michael Ruhlman “The Elements of Cooking.” Half the knowledge in this post was obtained through trial and error and the rest I learned from him.  This is truly my favorite batch of turkey stock ever.

Look out gravy here I come!

9 Responses to “Getting a Jump on Thanksgiving — Turkey Stock.”

  1. my mouth is watering delicious!!! thanks

  2. I was just thinking about doing this very thing over the weekend..thanks for the great tips!

  3. As I write I have a pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove. Much the same as yours except I didn’t caramelize the veggies. I will have to try that next time.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Whineaux, Todd. Todd said: Cooking With The Whineaux» Blog Archive » Getting a Jump on …: Lots of bones and low and slow cooking. I made.. http://bit.ly/IVm0c […]

  5. I really liked doing it that way — another suggestion from Ruhlman is to roast the bones before making the stock, especially with beef.

  6. excellent post! I cannot wait to try out this stock recipe

  7. Great post. I love making stock from scratch but it IS time consuming. Roasting the bones makes for a great flavour too…

  8. Excellent step by step guide to making the turkey stock and it sounds very flavorful and delicious!

  9. […] reduced to the point you want — otherwise you may end up oversalting.   I posted on making turkey stock, the method is the same for […]

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