A good, rich stock is the base for many dishes from soups, gumbos, bisque and gravies, just to name a few. Compared to using plain water, a stock helps build upon the primary flavor of your recipe. This simple, no-angst Homemade Turkey Stock recipe uses the carcass and giblets of a leftover bird from your Thanksgiving feast or anytime you cook a Turkey, or even if you don’t have leftovers!
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Here’s What You Need
A good turkey stock starts with turkey bones. Once you roast and consume your turkey, the bones are destined for a higher purpose! Most Turkeys will come with giblets-that includes the neck, liver, kidney and heart from the turkey and they stick it all in a little bag and stick that in the cavity. We want to use it all, the bones and giblets are the primary flavor drivers.
Unless the turkey was smoked, I usually add in a smoked ham hock for a little depth.
Vegetables are an important part of a good stock, but stock is not a trash heap. Use good, fresh vegetables, something you won’t mind eating. Use as many of these vegetables that you have:
- Yellow (or other sweet) onions
- Bell peppers
- Green Onions (scallions)
- Olive oil
A good stock is flavored with good fresh herbs and spices. Use as many of these that you have, but feel free to use or don’t use herbs according to your personal taste. Many grocery stores have a poultry blend already made up in the produce section and this may work for you as well.
- Fresh basil
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh oregano
- Fresh sage
- Fresh parsley
- Bay Leaves
- Black Peppercorns
Where's the salt? I generally do not add salt when making a stock. As this will be a base for another recipe, I'd rather salt the final recipe, if the stock is salty, it may make the whole dish too salty. But of course, if you want to add salt while you're making the stock, use kosher salt.
All of this will be placed in a large stockpot with cold water and simmered to concentrate their flavors.
Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. There are a few things that you’ll need to do to get this started, but once it’s simmering, it's just a matter of time. While you sip your beer, read through the recipe and do your mise en place to see what vegetables and herbs you have and want. Turkey carcasses can be pretty big, so make sure you have a large enough stockpot. I generally use a 16-quart stockpot. This recipe is developed using a leftover turkey carcass so you’ll also need a baking sheet if you choose to roast the bones first, which is what I recommend. Check out the Hints and Tips for options when you don’t have a carcass.
These items may help you in preparing this dish:
Prepare the turkey bones
Strip as much cooked meat from the leftover bird as you can and set it aside to use in other recipes. You can also use any skin from the leftover turkey in making this stock. (See the HInts and Tips about storing the leftover turkey meat). Prepare a heavy baking sheet with a light coat of vegetable oil or nonstick spray. Break the bones into manageable pieces and place them, along with the giblets onto the baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil or melted margarine over everything and mix it in with your hands. Place this in a 425-degree, preheated oven and roast for about 20 to 30 minutes. This step helps to intensify the flavors but can be skipped if you are crunched for time and using a cooked turkey. Don’t skip this if you are using uncooked bones.
Prepare the Herbs and spices
Gather the fresh basil, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley and tie them together using some butcher twine. This is called a bouquet garni. Break the bay leaves into a few pieces and combine them with the black peppercorns in a garni bag or tied in a cheesecloth pouch.
Prepare the Vegetables
The good thing about making stock is its simplicity. Take off any loose onion and garlic skin, but don’t worry about peeling or cutting off the stem ends of either. Just half the whole onion and slice the whole garlic in half, using the stem ends to keep them together. Rinse the celery, carrot, bell pepper and green onions. Chop the celery, carrot and green onions lengthwise into 3 or 4 pieces depending on the size and cut the bell pepper in half, lengthwise.
Everything to the stockpot
Add some olive oil to the stockpot over medium-high heat and when it is shimmering, add the vegetables, cut side down, and saute for about five minutes until they start to brown.
Next add the turkey bones, giblets and all the juice that accumulated during roasting. (Scrape any fond that formed on the baking sheet into the stockpot...tons of flavor!)
Add the smoked ham hock (if using) and the Herbs and Spices. Mix everything to incorporate all the ingredients.
Add about 24 cups (6 quarts) of cold water. Increase the heat to high and bring it to a rolling boil. After 10 minutes, lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half, which will take about 3 hours, skimming off any foam that accumulates on top.
Strain the stock
Let the stock cool down before handling it. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard all of the solids from the stock. Next, strain the stock into a large container, using some cheesecloth or a large coffee filter to help filter the liquid. The stock can be used right away or refrigerated for 2 to 3 days once it reaches room temperature. It can be kept frozen for about 6 months. See the Hints and Tips about freezing the stock.
Hints and Tips
- If you don’t have a leftover turkey, you can use fresh turkey pieces, particularly thighs, wings and necks. In lieu of roasting the bones, rub some olive oil or melted margarine on the pieces and sear them in the stockpot. Remove the turkey and sear the vegetables according to the recipe. Place the seared turkey into the stockpot as you would the bones, then after simmering for 45 minutes, remove the turkey. Once cooled, pull the meat from the bones and set aside, returning the bones and skin to the stockpot to continue simmering.
- If you are using leftover turkey, strip as much meat from the bones as possible and save it for another recipe. The meat can be frozen in an airtight container (like a vacuum-sealed bag) for 2 to 3 months. After stripping the meat, you can also freeze the bones for up to 3 months, then use them for the stock without even defrosting!
- Most fresh or frozen turkeys come with the neck, heart, gizzards and liver-this is call the giblets. They will be in a bag stuffed into the cavity of the bird. Take those out and use them in the stock.
- Roasting the bones is optional but enhances the flavor of depth which isn't there if you don't roast them. Likewise, a smoked ham hock is optional but also provides a little more depth of flavor.
- Use whole black peppercorns instead of ground. Place them in a garni-bags or use cheesecloth to tie them together. Include any other loose herbs or spices in the bag, you won't have to be concerned that someone will bite into a peppercorn.
- Can this be frozen? This stock can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days. If not used within that period, it can be frozen for 6 months. It’s convenient to freeze the stock in air-tight freezer-proof quart (4-cup) containers. You don’t want to have too large of a portion to thaw if the recipe only calls for a few cups. Another convenient method is to pour the stock into quart size freezer bags. Lay the bags flat in the freezer until the stock freezes, then you can stack them or set them on-end. Defrost the frozen stock in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t forget to label the containers with the date, quantity and description of what you’ve frozen.
Here are some other Homemade Stock recipes from Sweet Daddy D:
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Yeah You Right!
Homemade Turkey Stock
Here's What You Need
- 1 whole turkey carcass see notes
- Turkey neck and giblets see notes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 large yellow onion quartered
- 1 large bell pepper quartered
- 4 to 5 stalks Celery with leaves
- 1 large carrots cut in 1" pieces
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 head garlic cut in half
- 10 - 15 black pepper corns see notes
- 24 cups cold water
- 2 sprigs fresh basil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 bay leaves
Here's What You Do
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray or a light coat of vegetable oil.
- Pull all the meat off the carcass from a leftover turkey. Reserve the meat to add to gumbo later. Break the bones into manageable pieces and place them along with the back, neck and giblets (if available) on the baking sheet. Roast in the 425 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the turkey bones are roasting, cut the onion and bell pepper in half and the celery and carrots into 1" to 2" pieces. Tie the fresh herbs together with butcher twine and place the black pepper corns in a garni bag or wrap in cheese cloth.
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock put until shimmering. Add the vegetables, cut side down to the oil and saute until starting to brown. Add the ham hock, bay leaves and herb bundle-stir well so everything gets a hit of olive oil.
- Remove the turkey carcass from the oven and add the bones to the stockpot, making sure to add any juice and fond that had developed while roasting the bones. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Throw in the black pepper corns and 24 cups of cold water into the stock pot and stir to make sure everything settles.
- Bring the stock pot to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes, then lower to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer for a total of three hours, covering the pot occasionally to control the evaporation.
- Skim off any scum that developed on top and discard.
- When finished, remove everything with a large slotted spoon and strain the stock through cheesecloth into a container.
I have boiled the bones for years for that rich flavor. Thnk you for all the great ideas, I never thought to strain the sauce or freeze any for later. I appreciated how you gave a play by play of the process leading up to the grand finaley. Thank you for your great ideas.
Sweet Daddy D
Thanks for reaching out, Kathy. I appreciate the kind words and am so glad the article was useful to you. Keep cooking!