I first discovered the idea of making turkey stock in advance of a major holiday six years ago and blogged about it here. Since then, I’ve learned much more about developing flavor and simplifying the procedure, so I’m revising and re-posting the recipe. You can go ahead and make your gravy in advance, too, if you want, or make it while the turkey is resting. But having this great stock already on hand will simplify things on the big day, as well as make your food more delicious.
I learned from this experience that a great stock is absolutely key to a great turkey gravy, turkey soup, turkey stuffing – whatever turkey recipe your heart desires. Oh. My. God, it’s amazing. And it’s easier than you might think. It’s time-consuming, but mostly hands-off, so it really is a cinch to make.
There are two kinds of stock you can choose to make: white stock, where the bones, vegetables, etc., are simmered in water but not browned first, and brown stock, where you roast the bones and vegetables before simmering them. Which to choose is a matter of taste and what you want to achieve with the end result. I prefer the roasty toasty caramelized flavors of the brown stock, so this is the recipe I use. You can also follow this recipe to make stock from the turkey carcass after the big meal, and from the carcass of a roasted chicken as well.
One of the most important ingredients in a great brown stock is the fond, or browned bits, that gets stuck to the bottom of a roasting pan. These are full of flavor from the Maillard reaction – proteins and sugars in meats and vegetables caramelize with the oven’s heat and create thousands of savory flavor compounds. You want to scrape all this up and include it in your stock. It’s very, very important that you do not let this go down the drain. Plus, using it in your stock makes the pan easier to clean! Win, win!
Make-Ahead Brown Turkey Stock
Makes about 3 quarts
Don’t add salt or pepper until you are ready to use the stock. If you add it in the beginning, as the stock simmers and reduces, it can become unpalatably salty.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 pounds turkey bones, wings or necks
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
2 cups dry white wine
1 gallon cold water
12 sprigs fresh thyme
12 stems fresh parsley (reserve leaves for another recipe)
3 bay leaves
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle oil around roasting pan. Place turkey parts, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in roasting pan and toss well to coat with oil. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Transfer contents of roasting pan to stock pot or Dutch oven. Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add the wine to the roasting pan and use a wooden spatula to stir and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Watch as the liquid turns a deep brown with savory goodness. Add the liquid and all the browned bits to the stock pot.
Add remaining broth and herbs to the pot and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, just so small bubbles break the surface, for about four hours.
Use tongs and a spider or slotted spoon to remove large pieces from the pot. Pour stock through a fine-mesh strainer into another pot (at least 3 quarts), cover with a lid, and refrigerate until fat congeals, at least 2 hours. Discard solids.
Using soup spoon, skim fat and reserve. You can use this to make your gravy now and freeze it, or reserve for another use.