How to Make Turkey Stock From Leftover Turkey
Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein. It is tasty, and since it has a relatively mild flavor, it can be presented in many ways through different herbs and spices. One thing turkey is not, however, is small.
Purchasing a turkey is a commitment to finding as many ways to use the meat as possible because sometimes you can’t face another turkey sandwich.
Once you’ve eaten your turkey down to the bone, don’t get rid of it. The carcass is a goldmine of flavor and rich gelatin just waiting to be turned into a delicious turkey stock that you can use immediately or freeze for up to four months later.
Making stock seems like a mysterious process that only professional chefs bother with, but it is very straightforward and requires very little active time on your part. And at the end of the day, you’ll be left with a flavorful, somewhat gelatinous stock that will add depth and a lip-smacking mouth feel to any dish you choose to use it.
Preparing Turkey Stock
Making stock is an extraction process. As such, you have a fair amount of latitude in choosing the vegetables and seasonings you put in, but some vegetables are common to many stocks that you should undoubtedly add to your stock pot. So first, let’s look at the process of making a stock, and then we can consider additions.
Turkey Stock Recipe
Standard Turkey Stock
- 1 turkey carcass
- 1 yellow onions skin on, cleaned and cut in half
- 2 large carrots scrubbed and cut in half
- 2 ribs celery leaves included, cut in half
- 3 stems parsley
- 3 bay leaves
- 10 whole peppercorns
- cold water to cover by 1 inch
Other additions or substitutions
Chinese-Style Turkey Stock - in addition to the standard ingredients add:
- ½ inch fresh ginger
- 2 whole star anise pods
Italian-Style Turkey Stock - in addition to the standard ingredients add:
- white wine about ⅛ of the amount of water
- 2 tomatoes quartered and seeded
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- Pick as much meat off the turkey carcass as possible, and reserve it for soup or turkey salad.
- Place the whole turkey carcass in a large stockpot. Add large chunks of vegetables, a few whole spices, and herbs.
- Fill the stock pot with cold water to cover the ingredients by about an inch.
- Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the water reaches a fairly active simmer, adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles gently. You do not want the stock to boil, which will lead to too much evaporation.
- Also, the proteins and fats being released from the bones can emulsify and make the stock cloudy. This will not affect the final flavor of the dish, but if you want a pretty and clear stock, make sure the stock does not boil.
- As the stock simmers, a layer of grayish protein foam will rise to the surface. Carefully skim this off with a large spoon or a ladle.
- Let the stock simmer for several hours, adding as much water as necessary to maintain the volume. However, you should not have too much evaporation if you have maintained a slow simmer.You will know when the vegetables and bones have given up all of their flavors when you can snap a small turkey bone in half with minimal effort.
- Strain the stock through a fine strainer, pressing down on the solids. Discard the solids, and strain the stock again. If you use the stock immediately, carefully skim off the fat that rises to the top. If not, leave the fat on, as it can be more easily removed when solidified.
- You will want to chill the stock very quickly. You can carefully pour the stock into a metal bowl inside a larger metal bowl that has ice in it (an ice bath) and stir until the stock has cooled.
What Can I Make with Turkey Stock?
Turkey stock is just as flavorful as chicken stock. However, since most people are unfamiliar with turkey stock, if you serve them soup made with it, they will most likely wonder why the chicken soup tastes so good! So, here are some other ideas.
- Make a creamy risotto. Use it as the base for all sorts of soups.
- Use it as a sauce component for stir-fries.
- Use it as a braising liquid for stews.
- Use it for cooking vegetables.
What If I Want to Buy Restaurant Quality Turkey Stock?
Only now, turkey stock was available to home cooks if they prepared it themselves. This is great when you have a nice giant turkey carcass, but what if you don't?
If you could find some turkey wings or parts, you could make your own or buy a commercial product like the ones below for a turkey gravy or soup.