If you are like me, the prize at the end of the holiday meal is the bones I can collect to make a good stock. I’ve unashamedly asked the hosts of a holiday meal if they were planning on keeping their ham bone or turkey bones following the meal, and if they aren’t, I politely ask if I may take them with me. If you see me leaving a celebration with a garbage bag over my shoulder, you can probably bet that there are some quality bones being hauled to my house.
If you didn’t place your Thanksgiving turkey carcass into the fridge or freezer once you’d picked it clean this year, saving it for the moment it could become magic elixir, please don’t tell me. I’ll cry.
I’ve already written lovingly about making chicken stock on my personal blog, but for Simple Sunday, I’d like to give you the skinny on how to take your turkey bones and make stock to use throughout your holiday season.
For richer, more flavorful stock, roast the bones for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees before starting. Most recipes for this suggest oven-roasting the bones in a roasting pan with aromatics (carrots, celery, onion, etc.), then scraping and deglazing that over the stove, then pouring them into a stock pot and adding water.
I’ve never had a good enough stove, though, to be able to place a roasting pan from the oven onto the burners and really deglaze as necessary. If you have an awesome industrial range, knock yourself out.
Because of this limitation, and my desire to keep clean-up to a minimum, I’ve simplified this process. I place all the bones directly in an oven-safe dutch oven or stockpot, and roast them directly in the 350 degree oven.
After 20-30 minutes, I take that out, and carefully deglaze over the stove at medium heat wearing my gigantic oven mitts to keep my hands safe. Sometimes I use water, sometimes I use a little white wine. You use what tastes good to you in your stock.
Once all those brown bits have been saved, I place in a few quartered onions, four or five carrots in large chunks, four or five celery stalks in huge chunks (leaves and all), along with whatever fresh herbs I have available (parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage), a few whole cloves of garlic, a dried bay leaf or two, a tablespoon of whole peppercorns, and as much water as I can use to fill the pot.
When I have leeks, I use those as well. If I’ve made something with leeks in recent weeks, I wash and freeze the leek tops, then throw those in.
I only add a tiny bit of kosher salt at this point, as I can always add more later, to taste. I also want to be able to use this stock in lots of recipes, and don’t want it overly salty.
Once everything is in the pot, I bring it to a lazy boil, then reduce the heat to low. With a lid on the stock, this can cook away for hours. You can also put it in a low oven (250 degrees).**
I usually like to reduce my stock a bit, so during the last hour, I remove the lid, bump up the heat just a smidge to keep it a low simmer, and allow some liquid to evaporate.
Once done, allow the stock to cool slightly (so it is safer to handle), then ladle through a mesh strainer into storage containers. I love using ice cube trays to freeze individual servings of stock in manageable portions.
Stock is so simple and forgiving, you can put any combination of herbs and spices and make something lovely, all while you make your home smell delightful, too.
Once you’ve made homemade stock and tasted how it can enhance your recipes, you’ll be hooked.
**For those who own an Instant Pot, stock can be made there in an hour. Transfer the bones directly to the Instant Pot after roasting, add the aromatics, herbs, seasonings and water to the pot, and pressure cook on manual for 60 minutes, then allow to natural pressure release.