When you really think about it, the whole Thanksgiving meal is one giant twofer. Next-day leftovers are just as important as the perfect day-of meal. The turkey, however, is even more generous. You get the bird on day one; the leftover meat for sandwiches, enchiladas, and chilis in the days after; and now you get this glorious sunny stock from the bones and bits leftover even after the meat is gone.
The Best Turkey for Turkey Stock
When it comes to making turkey stock, the best turkey is roasted turkey. Because we roast a larger bird, the leftover bones and bits of meat are plenty enough for making stock. Stock- and broth-making is typically dependent on collagen from the bones for thickening, and even roasted bones contain a fair amount. This stock won't set up as thickly as gelatin, but it will still be plenty rich and full of body.
Pro tip: When preparing your bird for roasting, remember to save the neck bone for stocking-making too.
The Secret to Making Turkey Stock: Be Prepared
If internally you're saying, "You really want me to make turkey stock after I've already spent hours cooking a glorious feast?" let me tell you my secret: While I'm prepping for Thanksgiving, I prep for the stock as well. I put a gallon-sized zip-top bag in the fridge; throw a few ribs of chopped celery in there when I make stuffing; chop an extra carrot while making grazed carrots; put the neck bone in there after I prep the turkey; and then when we're done eating turkey, when the bird is picked clean, I already have a pre-made kit for turkey stock requiring nothing more than water, a hot pot, and patience.
Calling All Turkey-Haters!
Faith has some feelings about turkey and even more about turkey stock. Read why it's the only reason she makes a turkey at all for Thanksgiving.
Seasoning Turkey Stock
Because the turkey has been seasoned before roasting, season the stock after it has cooked. A few stems of herbs, such as parsley or thyme, are nice additions to the stock while cooking, as are peppercorns, but these are purely optional.
Using Your Turkey Stock
Let's start with the obvious, of course: Make soup! Once you've had your fill, try the stock in a delicious risotto or braise greens in this golden elixir.
How To Make Turkey Stock
What You Need
1 cooked turkey carcass (about 4 pounds), meat mostly removed and bones broken into large pieces
2 large onions, quartered
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Few stems of fresh parsley or thyme (optional)
- Fill the stockpot: Combine the turkey, onions, celery, and carrots in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover, about 1 gallon.
- Bring to a boil: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
- Strain: Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Use tongs to transfer the big bones and vegetables from the stockpot to the strainer. When only small bits remain, pour the stock through the strainer and into the bowl. If you'd like a cleaner, clearer stock, clean out your strainer, line it with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and strain the stock again into another bowl or clean pot.
- Cool and store the stock: If not using immediately, divide the stock between several small jars or storage containers. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Storage: Turkey stock can stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.