Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Great Turkey Stock from Extraneous Turkey Parts

If you are a staunch user of packets of "Gravy Mix", this blog may not be for you. I have always, always made my gravy from scratch, using a wonderfully flavored turkey stock of my own making. Even in Guatemala, where Thanksgiving was celebrated only in my own house and turkeys were very hard to come by, I made my own stock and my own gravy. Having a really flavorful stock goes a long way to having a really delicious gravy.

How to Make a Great Turkey Stock

Whenever a holiday comes around where turkey figures prominently, there will be bits and pieces of turkey leftover. I am mainly talking about whole, raw turkey. Whole turkey almost always comes with that little packet of gizzards and a neck in there somewhere. Add to that any spare skin that is dangling, cut off the tail and even the wingtips. Wingtips only tend to burn anyway; a better idea is use them in the stock. 
Possible bits and pieces for turkey stock

Going one step further this year, I have already butterflied or spatchcocked my turkey and set it to refrigerate with a Dry Brine mixture. When cutting out the backbone of the turkey in order to lay the bird open flat, this gives a perfect opportunity to have one more tasty morsel to make a good stock.

My stock recipe makes a fair amount of stock, but it can always be measured out into plastic freezer containers and frozen for later use. Good stock is always a great thing to have on hand. It is easy to make, also. Just set all these turkey bits and pieces into a large stock pot with a lid. Add in the Holy Trinity of vegetables (onion, celery and carrot), some parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns and you are done. The onion can go in whole, with the skin (which gives great color to the stock) or just cut in half. The carrot just scrubbed clean and the celery also. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for hours. No need to be right there watching, if the pot is truly at a low simmer.

I know there are those who would brown the meat pieces first, as well as sauteing the vegetables. If this is your choice, please do so. For sure the results will be worthwhile. For me though, there are so very many details to attend to over the week preceding Thanksgiving that this easy version will yield a wonderfully rich tasting stock with far less work involved. During a holiday, that is my whole, heartfelt goal: LESS work.

Rich Turkey Stock

makes 6 to 8 cups stock
Vegetables added to the pot for stock

spare turkey parts (neck, gizzards, wingtips, fat, skin)
1 whole onion, cut in half or left whole
2 carrots, scrubbed clean, in half
3 stalks celery (with leaves if possible), cut in half
1 small bunch parsley
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 - 2 bay leaves
10 cups water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, optional

Set all the ingredients into a large stock pot with the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover and cook for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours if time permits. Once done, remove the larger pieces and discard. Strain the stock into a large bowl through a fine strainer to remove any small bits. Let the stock cool completely, then portion the stock into plastic freezer containers. 

If using the stock to make gravy, you will still likely not need quite this much stock, but it makes a perfect base for any soup you choose. There is no salt added to this recipe, as it could easily become too salty if the amount of liquid evaporated during cooking - and it will. It is far easier to add salt to your soup or gravy when that time comes, than to have a stock that is too salty.

Finished stock, strained
The recipe begins with 10 cups of water. I left my stock simmering for about 5 hours, by which time the liquid had boiled down significantly. I had reserved 2 cups of water to add to the stock at the end, bringing it back to a quick boil before setting aside to cool, remove the large things with tongs and then strain the stock. I was left with 8 cups, after the addition of that extra 2 cups to the finished stock. If not for that, I would have had 6 cups of stock. Just as an FYI, once strained, the stock could be boiled down to half the amount or less, for very concentrated flavor, if desired. No matter how, this stock has far more flavor than anything you can buy, and you can control the sodium content.

I usually add saffron to my soups and stock. This time I forgot. Even without all the coloring (and wonderful flavor) saffron gives, this stock still has a beautiful, deep, rich color. If you love saffron, by all means use it. Don't even bother with soaking and pressing out the color from the threads - just toss them in. After hours of cooking, all the color in the saffron will be in your stock. Trust me!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.