Wednesday, November 30, 2011

recipe: homemade turkey (or chicken) stock...

Homemade stock is SO easy to make yourself!

With Thanksgiving just ending, I'm sure there's a lot of you who are in the same situation I was in: A HUGE turkey carcass in freezer, staring you down every time you go for an ice cube.

I'm a big, big, big believer in making your own stock. I do it once a month or so and make sure I've made enough to fill half my freezer up- which will last me a couple of weeks. We use a lot of stock in our household- be it in soups or stews, pot roasts, thinning out a sauce, mashed potatoes...whatever. I swear, if you opened up my freezer right now, you'd see about 2 or 3 butchered up chicken carcasses, bags of vegetable ends and pieces, and seriously like 4 quarts of already made stock just sitting there...waiting to be used in something honestly good.

Not only is making your own stock economical, it's also so much better for you (and better tasting) than anything you'd buy from a store. One uncooked chicken carcass (meaning after you've removed the breasts, thighs, wings etc for your weeks' dinners) will get you at least a quart of stock. So right there- see that as a buy one get one free thing. Buy one whole chicken, get one quart of stock free. :)

All you need is a little ahead of time preparation and a Sunday afternoon lounging around the house.
When I was in culinary school, this was cooking 101. Our very first week of school we learned about stocks. We learned how to make chicken, fish, and veal...the proper way to ensure maximum taste, how to brown bones (if desired), how to slather browned bones with tomato paste (if desired), how long each different type of stock must adequately simmer (NOT BOIL! HEAVEN FORBID!!), and how to properly skim skim skim all the scum that would rise to the top. I swear, I think we might have made enough stock to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool come the end of that semester.

As much as I hated being on stock duty during that time, I will say this- I can't NOT make my own now. I just can't. It's so easy and so good for you...and SO CHEAP...why would you ever buy your own? Plus, making your own allows YOU to control what goes in and makes sure you're using up every little bit of what that little chicken, turkey, cow, fish, etc had to offer you.

Nice introduction, eh?

So now to the actual cooking! I think it would be fair to let you guys know a secret I have: Not only do I put every poultry carcass we have into a zip-lock bag and into the freezer for future stock making, but I also have a few quart-sized zip-lock bags in there as well. It's in these quart-sized bags that I'll continually add to during the week while I'm cooking dinner: any and all onion, carrot, leek, fennel, fresh herb stems, garlic, YOU NAME IT trimmings and end pieces. So when you're making dinner each night and you cut the ends off that onion, the tips or peelings off that carrot...even the paper off those cloves of garlic DON'T THROW AWAY!! Just add them to your little freezer bag of odds and ends. You'll thank me later :) This recipe in particular will be using our leftover Thanksgiving turkey carcass and vegetable trimmings, but please please substitute with a chicken carcass! Just as easy.

Makes about 4 quarts (give or take)

  • 1 6quart stockpot
  • 1 uncooked turkey carcass (if it's cooked, NO BIG DEAL, go ahead and use anyway) trimmed of as much skin and fat as possible
    • Can easily substitute with a UNCOOKED chicken carcass, just trim excess fat and skin off as best you can
  • About 4 cups of vegetable and herb odds and ends (this is where it's good to have stored up during the week)
    • OR one whole onion with skin on, cut into quarters
    • 3 washed carrots cut into large chunks
    • 2 stocks of celery washed and cut into large chunks
    • a few unpeeled cloves of garlic
    • parsley stems, or stems of whatever you have on hand
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns 
  • 1 teaspoon each whole seeds (3 max): mustard seed, coriander, fennel- it's up to you
  • 1 teaspoon each dried herbs- 3 max (if you didn't have fresh or frozen kinds already): basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, herbs de Provence would be good too- again it's up to you.

1. To your 6quart stockpot add your poultry carcass, herbs, vegetables, seeds and peppercorns. Your carcass does NOT have to be defrosted. You can pull it straight out of the freezer, along with your quart bag of vegetable trimmings, and add straight to pot. I had mentioned earlier to trim your carcass of as much fat and skin as you can- this is important in eliminating as much fat as we can from the end resulting stock. Don't kill yourself trying to get every single piece. Just get those main parts :)

2. Fill pot with COLD water until you've covered the top of your carcass. If you need to, you can cut carcass up a bit to better fit pot.

3. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil uncovered. Once you've reached a boil, turn heat down until you have a nice steady simmer.

4. Simmer for one hour uncovered, or for a deeper flavor one and a half hours. Make sure you skim the top of any fat and scum (frothy stuff) that rises up during this simmering time. I do it about every 20 minutes. 

5. Once done, let sit for about 30 minutes to cool off a bit.

6. Pour VERY carefully through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. If you had meat on your carcass at all, now would be a great time to get that off and make into soup, stew, or chicken/turkey salad sandwiches!

7. Ladle your stock into appropriate heat/freezer proof containers with tight sealing lids. 

8. Let chill overnight.

9. The next day, carefully remove that THICK layer of fat that has risen to the surface :) If yours isn't as thick- KUDOS TO YOU FRIEND! You're a better fat remover than I am!

10. Place stock in freezer and use as needed! This will keep in freezer for 3 months, or if in fridge- will last 7 days. To defrost and use, just take a container out of freezer and defrost in refrigerator over night. :)

There is NO salt added to stocks...usually ever. This allows you to add the homemade stock to a dish without over-salting that dish. Stock is usually used as an enhancer for dishes. If you plan on making soup with it, I would still make the stock unsalted and then salt your soup to taste while making. 


  1. Thanks for posting this (I know... a year ago!). I am finally getting around to making my turkey stock from Thanksgiving's turkey. Found you on Pinterest.

    1. Oh you are SO welcome!! Hope it's easy to understand and that it comes out tasty!

  2. I'm totally going to try this within the next week! I have made homemade stock before but it was too bland, definitely going to use your recipe this time around.
    Have you ever shared a recipe for beef stock? I tried searching for it but couldn't find it. Oddly we use more beef stock than chicken in our house, or maybe I just notice it more because I don't know how to make homemade beef stock.

    1. The thing with stock is you have to add colorful ingredients to begin with, to end with a flavorful broth. Well that- and cooking it long enough. Hehe. So make sure that you really add some yummy veggie scraps to that

    2. Woops! To that freezer bag. Once I bought a few bunches of cilantro for some recipe so I through about 2 cups worth of stems into my freezer bag. That made such an amazing flavorful stock!

    3. As for beef stock- if you want a killer stock recipe I'd encourage you to go to your local butcher or grocery store even and buy beef bones. Just raw bones. Then slather them with tomato paste and roast them in the oven- 375 ish for 30 or so minutes. Maybe 45. Until they get nice and roasted- lots of color. Throw THOSE into this same veggie odds and ends stock recipe. Same water, same instructions- but simmer for 3 or so hours and wham! You've got yourself a heck of a beef broth.

    4. Thanks Christina, I'll try that out!


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