If you roasted a whole bird yesterday, I hope you saved the carcass. Along with a few quarts of water, that’s all you need to make savory, full-bodied stock. It’s great for postholiday turkey soup with barley; orzo, kale, and chickpeas; or rice, mushrooms, and swiss chard, or for stockpiling in your freezer to have at the ready.
Senior Editor Steve Dunn’s method couldn’t be simpler or more frugal. You don’t have to roast the bones further, simmer endlessly, or even add any aromatics to the pot. Here’s how he gets as much as possible out of the bones and bits of meat and skin and minimizes the effort. (After all, you already cooked for Thanksgiving, and that fatigue is surely setting in; time for a break!)
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How to Make the Best, Simplest Turkey Stock
- Pick Off Most—But Not All—of the Meat
The stock will have a fuller flavor if there is some meat and skin still attached.
- Break Up the Bones
Use a heavy knife or kitchen shears to cut the bones into 10 to 12 pieces. (If you have the bones from the drumsticks and thighs, add them to the pot too.) That way, they’ll pack more tightly into the pot and require less water to cover them. The upshot is more concentrated stock.
- Skip the Vegetables
Omitting mirepoix (carrot, celery, and onion) allows the essence of the poultry to shine and minimizes the prep work.
- Simmer Gently, Not Endlessly
Cooking the bones in water for 2 hours extracts enough gelatin to give the stock rich flavor and body.
- Skim and Reserve Fat
Removing fat from the strained, cooled stock clarifies it, and it can be used for making turkey soup.
Simple Turkey Stock
Freeze for Later
Freezing stock in portions of different sizes (ice cube tray, muffin tin, zipper-lock bag) makes it easy to defrost it for different applications. Stock can be frozen for up to four months.
Makes 8 cups
1 carcass from 12- to 14-pound roasted turkey
10 cups water
1. Using chef’s knife, remove wings from carcass and separate each wing at joints into 3 pieces. Cut through ribs to separate breastbone from backbone, then cut backbone into 3 to 4 pieces. Using kitchen shears or heavy knife, remove ribs from both sides of breastbone. (You should have roughly 4 pounds of bones broken into 10 to 12 pieces.)
2. Arrange bones in stockpot or large Dutch oven in compact layer. Add water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 2 hours, using shallow spoon to skim foam and impurities from surface as needed.
3. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large container; discard solids. Let stock cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Skim any fat from surface (reserve fat for making soup). Let stock cool for 1½ hours before refrigerating. (Stock can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months.)