I have a thing about homemade stock. Chicken stock, turkey stock, beef stock–I really prefer using homemade to store-bought, because I do think there is a big difference in the flavor.
That’s not to say that I never use the yellow granules, because I do. But it depends partly on what I’m making. If I need some chicken stock to put in something that’s highly flavored already (like chili or curry or something), and if the recipe doesn’t use a lot of stock, I might just break out the granules.
But if I’m making, say, my very favorite Butternut Squash Risotto, then it’s a no-brainer. Of course, when stock is one of the main ingredients, it makes a huge difference how good the stock tastes. Just makes sense, right?
So, after our big Thanksoween celebration, which featured a 24-pound turkey, we had lots of nice, meaty turkey bones to make a good stock.
You all probably know how to do this, but I’ve got to write about something! So I’m going to tell you how I do it.
Just take all the turkey bones, skin, necks, leftover pieces, or whatever, that you’ve been saving in the freezer for the past few months. In fact, I mix turkey and chicken and call it “poultry stock”. (I’m clever like that.)
Put them in the hugest pot you have (which, in my case, is about 22 quarts) and fill it up, just a couple of inches from the top, with water.
Then add onions, carrots (no need to peel them or cut off the tops–it’s a free-for-all!), celery, peppercorns, garlic. . . you get the idea. I always use fresh herbs if I have them–a couple of sprigs of thyme, sage, and/or oregano. Whatever you have sitting around that will impart flavor to your stock. And don’t forget the salt.
Then, bring it to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. Simmer it all day. If you don’t cook it long enough, the good stuff doesn’t come out of the bones, and you actually end up with broth, not stock. (Not that anybody will actually be checking up on this.)
When it’s boiled for, say, 5 or 6 hours, just take it off the burner and let it cool off a bit. When it’s cool enough to work with and not risk burning yourself, just pour it through a strainer into another large pot.
Now, here’s the tricky part. Put the cover on the pot and bring it out to the garage and let it sit overnight. (This only works in the winter time.)
Unless, unlike me, you have a huge refrigerator and the space to put your large pot in there. The reason for this is that, as the stock cools, all the fat will rise to the top and solidify. So the next day it will be really easy to just lift off that fat layer, and you’ll be left with practically fat-free poultry stock. At this point I usually warm it up a bit (so it becomes liquid again–if it’s truly stock, at this point it will be a lot like partly-set jello). Then I put it in two-cup freezer containers, label it as stock (believe me, you think you will remember what it is, but always label your freezer containers because you won’t), and stick it in the freezer.
And next time you need stock for a recipe you can just retrieve a cup or two of your frozen, delicious, home-made stock and all the planets will align and the angels will sing.
Or at least you’ll end up with excellent-tasting food.