Monday, November 22, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Tip: Plan for Stock

Whether you're going to be responsible for cooking the turkey or not, I have recommendations for all my American readers.  Plan on snagging the turkey carcass this Thursday to make homemade stock - the very best kind.  Chances are that no one else is going to be motivated to make stock from the remains of the feast, so scoop it up!  After the larger bits of leftover meat are removed, the bones are likely to be up for grabs.  If you're around when the turkey goes into the oven and can lay claim to the giblets before or after cooking, do that too.  (Except the liver, which gives a subtle muddy flavor to stock.  But if you can't distinguish the liver from the other bits, don't worry about it.  It's subtle, as I said.)  When the stock is made, you can either pressure can it or freeze it.  To set yourself up for stock making there are a few areas in which you need to prepare - ingredients, equipment, and space.

Ingredients are easy.  Buy an extra couple of carrots and onions, plus a celery heart during your pre-feast grocery shopping expedition.  If you happen to use fresh herbs in the course of preparing your Thanksgiving feast, save a few.  Or just save the stems from fresh parsley.  They give a nice flavor to stock that rarely interferes with any other flavorings you want in the finished dish.  Leek greens, onion cores, and celery bases also are great in stocks - save kitchen scraps and you may not need to buy any ingredients specifically for the stock.

Equipment - Mostly what you need here is a big pot, a strainer, and something to put the stock in when it's done.  A colander will suffice if you don't have a strainer.  Cheesecloth is the best for those who are fussy about sediments and solids in the stock.  If you plan to freeze, you can use saved yogurt quart containers.  If canning, you'll want the usual jars, lids and bands.

Space - Turkey carcasses are big, so bring a big container, or a big bag to cover the bones if you leave them on the platter.  Make sure there's enough space in your fridge to hold the bones a day or two, unless you plan to get right down to stock making on Thursday evening.  If space is going to be a problem, have a meat cleaver on hand and plan on breaking down the bones so they fit in a smaller space.  (You can do this discreetly outside with a chopping board if it's going to freak anyone else out.  Use the excuse of needing some fresh air - with the turkey carcass as company.)  If you don't have a pressure canner, you'll need to make sure there's room in the freezer for the finished stock.  You're likely to get about a gallon of stock from a turkey weighing in the neighborhood of 15 pounds.  If space is a major constraint, break the bones down as much as possible so they'll be as tightly packed in the pot as possible,  then make a double-strength stock by adding only half the amount of water.  Freeze the stock in small quantities and mark it so you remember to dilute it to back to normal strength when using it.

When you're ready to make stock, see my walkthrough.  It's for lamb stock, but the all the procedures are the same for turkey stock.

15 comments:

becky3086 said...

I like having turkey and chicken stock in the freezer. I freeze it in the canning jars. Homemade stock definitely makes the best soup!

GOD thinker said...

Thanks for the great tip. I just started making my own vegetable stocks and am now up for the meats. I am looking forward to trying my hand at turkey stock making!!

eatclosetohome said...

That's so funny! We are doing Thanksgiving at the home of the couple with the young child this year, instead of at my home (for the first time in 15 years. I'm fine. Really. JUST FINE.)

Ahem.

Anyway, I found myself trying to work through how stock would get made this year. Do they have a stock pot big enough for a turkey carcass? I know they don't have a pressure canner...do they have freezer space? Should I bring a cooler so I can have some of the stock to take home? And wait...they're in North Carolina, and they have a cat. Which means you can't just put the carcass on the stoop in the garage overnight and deal with stock Friday or Saturday.

Too much woe. I'm not packing the 4 gal stock pot, pressure canner, jars, etc. to cook a bird that might spoil before I can get to it. If stock doesn't get made this year, it'll be sad, but not tragic.

Besides, I just bought some stewing hens. :)

eatclosetohome said...

Oh - and for that extra yummy stock, spoon off the drippings, drape any leftover skin back over the stripped carcass and put the whole thing back into the oven to roast the bones. The roasted meat flavor from the drippings and the re-roasted bones adds a really nice depth to the stock!

Emily

Erin said...

To the previous poster - see if they have room in their freezer for the carcass (you could always chop it up first...) Then take it home frozen and make it into stock there. I almost always freeze our chicken carcasses before making stock.

ysmeine said...

I'm using homemade turkey stock from my freezer to make squash soup for dinner tonight. I am glad I thought to do this last month. I normally use store bought broth and found I only have beef.

I will remember to save the carcass for future use.

Monica said...

http://beehuman.blogspot.com/
Hi, I know this is off today's topic, but you might want to check out this blog for bee-keeping suggetions. It also has some links to other bee keeping sites. I've read that some of these folks don't keep open bottoms on their hives- check it out and see what you think.

Mitzi G Burger said...

While we don't observe Thanksgiving in Australia, I will keep this stock-making tips in mind for my next batch of kosher chicken soup.

Dmarie said...

it's kinda sad to think of all the turkey carcasses that will go straight into the trashcan without first being used for making delicious soups and stocks. :(

Kate said...

Becky, my freezer space has become tighter and tighter. That's why I switched to pressure canning.

Gt, it's hard to go back to storebought, once you've had homemade. The taste is so superior.

Emily, glad to provide some laughs. I like Erin's suggestion of freezing the bones until you head home. Heck, depending on where you are and the weather, you might just be able to put them outside if there's no freezer space available. I LOVE your suggestion about re-roasting the bones draped in the skin. Our turkey will be done on the grill, so the skin is going to be a total loss. But I will keep that idea in mind or chicken or duck in the future. Thanks!

Erin, great suggestion. Thanks.

ysmeine, sounds great.

Monica, thanks for the link. I've seen beehuman's stuff in the past, but not about the lack of bottom boards.

Mitzi, more's the pity. Thanksgiving is our best holiday by far.

Dmarie, very true. I think even vegetarians might consider that stock not made from the carcass is simply good food gone to waste. The animal's already dead, so why not make the most out of it?

Hazel said...

Dmarie and Kate, when HRW started his free range chicken campaign, several families that he followed on TV admitted to not even turning the roast chicken over to get the meat from underneath, let alone making stock from it...
One of my favourite bits are the two little pockets underneath that the French call l'huitres, but they ate the breast and legs and that was about it. Amazing.

Kate said...

Hazel, those are my favorite parts too. We must have translated huitres directly, because we call them the oysters. I had an old southern mountain-man uncle by marriage. He was old enough to be my grandfather, and he knew his way around chickens and a garden. He called them oysters. I don't run into too many people who know what I mean when I use the term. But I'm a foodie too, so I don't know whether I'm the beneficiary of secret family lore, or just a good culinary education.

Bureinato said...

I lucked out this year and got both a turkey carcass and a goose carcass.

Kate said...

Bureinato, do you make a mixed stock with both carcasses, or individual batches?

Bureinato said...

I am doing separate stocks for turkey and goose. I've often combined chicken and turkey, but didn't this year. I also attempted to reduce the stock into a thin paste per the directions in "Better than store bought" cookbook. I read a book during the last stage and forgot about it and scorched it. Fortunately I did the turkey first and still have the goose to try. I still want to concentrate the stock so it takes up less space in my freezer.