Homemade stocks are always a great thing to have at the ready when cooking… especially around the big food holidays.
Not only do you take pride and high “foodie” points for making your own, but knowing everything you put in to that stock is from your own hands. There’s no guessing about salt content, or preservatives… all natural and all you. Plus I don't need to tell you the ridiculous prices for prepared store bought stocks.
So a few things to know about stock making… and this in particular is for poultry stocks.
The Source: Chicken or Turkey stock? For our intents and purposes… turkey! So those carcass scraps that are generally tossed out (wing tips, backs, neck-bones, tails) are perfectly fine when making poultry stock.
Sourcing those parts without buying the whole bird is easy. This time of year a lot of meat counters will have turkey wings, necks, and tails packaged up and ready for sale. If not ask the folks behind the counter if they have any scraps from their processing, or to reserve you some the next time they're breaking down turkeys. Just let them you need stock material and they will do the rest.
If your family enjoys rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken, save the carcass and bones in a baggie and freeze until you're ready to make stock. Just add some fresh bones to supplement the base and flavor of your stock.
So organ meat in stock? Good question. Do you know when you get the "magic bag" of heart, liver, neck and such? I’m all about the neck bone (anything attached to a bone is good stock material), but the liver, gizzard, and heart.. not so much. Different impurities and flavor will add to that stock, and that is not “good eats” in my opinion. I prefer to stick to the bone rule; meat, bone, connective tissue, cartilage, are all good stuff that breaks down after a low and slow cooking process giving you a rich and flavorful broth.
Aromatics: So these are the veg, herbs, and spices you add to the stock to add another layer of flavor and hint of sweetness to your stock. Unless you’re making a stock for a specific reason or style, like for ramen or Pho, overpowering the “source” flavor with aromatic flavors isn't necessary.
A basic mirepoix (meer-pwah), Onions and/or Leeks, Carrots, and Celery, is the rule of thumb for stocks. Sweetness from the carrots and onion, with a little bitter balance from the celery. I also add garlic cloves for a light hint of garlic flavor… compliments most flavors that come out of my kitchen.
On top of the mirepoix flavors we add a bouquet garni , or a tied bunch of herbs added to the pot for flavor, and removed after cooking. There isn’t one specific “recipe” but always always always with Bay Leaf, Parsley and Thyme. I also add Sage when I’m making turkey stock, and Rosemary when making chicken stock... Whole black pepper corns too! Now I’ve seen chicken stock recipes that call for one or two whole cloves, citrus peel, or chili pepper. Again, I like to keep my poultry stocks “meat” flavor forward and not over power it with added spices.
Time and Temp: Always start your stocks out in cold water, not hot! The idea isn't to get the pot boiling quickly to extract flavors. The reason for cold water is that cold water penetrates the bones… it starts working it’s way through the porous material extracting flavor. And you’ve heard me say many times when cooking proteins…”Low and Slow”. Lower temps for longer periods of time gently breaks down connective tissue, cartilage, fats, bone material, adding to that great collective of gelatinous goodness and flavor in your stock. A really great stock will take most of the day to cook. Seriously. Once cooled, and depending on the flavor source materials, you should end up with a cold container of turky gelatin. That is how you know you did everything correctly.
Alright… so on to the stock.
4 pounds of bone/meat/carcass scraps. I found fresh packaged turkey necklines and tails
2 medium onions rough chopped (I don't even bother removing the papery skin)
3 carrots washed and chopped
3-5 ribs of celery (I prefer using the heart and leaves of the stalk) rough chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic
10 thyme sprigs
5 Italian Parsley sprigs
1 large or 2 small bay leaf
3-4 stems fresh sage
Filtered Water - enough water to cover everything… about 1 1/2- 2 gallons
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Now I like a darker turkey stock , so we are going to roast the source parts and the veg. Roasting everything caramelizes the natural sugars in the meat and the mirepoix bringing out sweetness and richer flavor along with the darker color. Place the turkey parts, mirepoix, and garlic in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with a little grapeseed oil or light olive oil, and roast about 25-30 minutes, carefully tossing everything around with tongs to really get a nice caramelization on all side of the ingredients. Remove from the pan and dump everything (any juices and fat too) into a large 6-8 quart stock pot. Place the roasting pan on the stove and turn up the heat. Allow the bottom bits to sizzle and crisp, then add water (some use wine if you want that flavor in your stock) to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the good bits. Pour the fond into the pot with everything else.
- Cover the goods in your pot with cold water…enough to cover the top. Have any extra water in a boiling kettle to add to the pot (this time hot water is ok) to top off the stock from evaporation. Add the tied bundle of herbs, bouquet garni, to the pot and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling bring the temp down to just barley a simmer. Slow and Low! Cover and let the stock do it’s thing for the next six hours. Yes, six. Every fifteen minutes for the first three times, skim the scum that floats to the top. These are impurities and not good eats. Check it every thirty minutes or so after that for scum… and add the hot water when needed to keep all the goods covered in water.
- After six hours remove (very carefully) the pot from the heat. Set up a colander over another large container , and dump the contents inside. Toss out the bones, veg and herbs. Rinse and wipe out the main pot, then grab another strainer and line it with cheesecloth (or use a fine mesh hand strainer) and place that on top of the main pot. Again, pour the contents from the second pot, through the second strainer, and in to the main pot. You gave your stock another straining for a relatively clear stock.
- Pour your strained stock in to heat proof/food proof containers with lids. Let them cool down completely before placing in the fridge and cover. Keep what you like in the fridge and you may freeze what is left and use another time.