Roasting the bones gives this rich, savory turkey broth depth and a wonderfully golden hue. A long, gentle simmer with onions, garlic, leeks and an abundance of sage, rosemary and thyme, enriches the stock with the flavors and aromas of the holiday season.
Turkey stock may not be the glamorous star of your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal but it is without a doubt an essential member of the supporting cast, the workhorse if you will – humbly propping up your gravy, loosening up stiff mashed potatoes, swooping in to rescue and rehydrate your slightly overcooked turkey or *gasp* dry, stodgy stuffing.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I set aside an afternoon at home to simmer a fragrant pot of stock on the stove. You may be tempted to pick up a few boxes of store-bought stock to have on hand but trust me, homemade is 1000 times better and well worth the effort. Fortunately, turkey stock very simple (an inexpensive) to make. It does require a long simmer, 4-hours minimum, ideally 6-8, but your stovetop does most of the work for you.
Poultry stocks can taste pretty bland, but not this one. You can start this stock with raw poultry bones from the butcher or a leftover carcass from a previously roasted turkey. It’s steeped with the usual aromatics — carrots, garlic, leeks and onion — plus a heaping handful of herbaceous rosemary, thyme and sage, as well as ginger and clove which fortify the broth with deeply savory, earthy flavor.
You can make this stock well in advance. Cool and freeze it in freezer-safe quart containers then simply defrost as needed.
Check out my recipe for: Homemade Chicken Stock.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
To make homemade turkey stock you will need: raw turkey bones or the carcass of a previously roasted turkey, onion, garlic, carrots, leeks, fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, whole black peppercorns, a few whole cloves and a knob of fresh ginger.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Roast the Bones
Roasting the the turkey bones adds richness and depth to the stock. Whether you’re staring with fresh, raw bones or a whole roasted turkey carcass, roast the bones in a 450 F oven until deeply golden brown.
Step 2. Simmer
Transfer the roasted bones, aromatics, herbs and spices to a large stock pot. Fill the pot with water then bring to a simmer. Use a ladle to skim away and discard any foam that rises to the surface. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting while still maintaining a slow, gently simmer. Cover the stock and cook for at least 4 hours or up to 8. Note: a low simmer looks like a few small bubbles rising to the surface every few seconds. Little to no movement in the broth itself. Surface is mostly still. Wisps of steam rising from the surface.
Step 3. Strain and Store
Strain the stock thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer then transfer to storage containers to cool.
Freezing Turkey Stock:
To freeze turkey stock, cool completely then pour into freezer-safe containers, leaving about 2 inches of headspace at the top to allow for expansion. Seal the container tightly and freeze. If you freeze the stock while it’s still hot, it could break down the proteins and make the stock cloudy. When you’re ready to use the frozen stock, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
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Holiday Turkey Stock
- 4 pounds raw turkey bones or one whole turkey carcass
- 2 large onions peeled and halved
- 2 large leeks quartered and rinsed well
- 3 large carrots peeled and halved
- 2 heads garlic halved crosswise
- 8 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 8 large sprigs fresh sage
- 1-inch knob ginger
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoons whole cloves optional
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 quarts water
- Preheat the oven to 450 F. Arrange the raw turkey bones in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until golden. Note: If using a whole, roasted carcass; use a sturdy knife or your hands to cut or tear the turkey carcass into large pieces. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast until brown and sizzling, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer the roasted bones to a large stock pot. Next, add the onion, leek, carrots, garlic, herbs, ginger, peppercorns, cloves and salt to the pot. Fill the pot with water, at least 6 quarts, then bring to a low boil over medium heat. Skim any foam that rises to the top of the stock.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for at least 4 hours or up to 8. Check every so often to make sure it's still sitting at a low simmer, skim and discard any foam that rises to the surface. Note: a low simmer looks like a few small bubbles rising to the surface every few seconds. Little to no movement in the broth itself. Surface is mostly still. Wisps of steam rising from the surface.
- When you're ready, strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Let the stock cool slightly, then ladle into containers and refrigerate refrigerate until completely chilled, about 6 hours. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Bones: The best types of bones for turkey stock are those that are high in collagen and connective tissue. These will give a rich, flavorful, viscous broth. Some of the best types of bones for stock include: wings, backs (or carcasses), feet, necks and legs. I usually pick up a variety of necks, wings, legs and feet. If you don’t see these items in your grocery store meat case – ask the butcher. They likely have feet, necks and carcasses available but not on display. You can also combine chicken and turkey bones together into one stock if needed.
- Fresh vs. Dried Herbs: I prefer the flavor of fresh herbs but in a pinch, dried works too. If you plan to substitute dried herbs, wait to add them in until the final 30 minutes of cooking.
- Storing Stock: Leftover stock will last for up to 4 days in in the refrigerator, or up to 4 months in the freezer.
- Freezing Instructions: Cool the stock completely then pour it into freezer-safe containers, leaving about 2 inches of headspace at the top to allow for expansion. Seal the container tightly and freeze. If you freeze the stock while it’s still hot, it could break down the proteins and make the stock cloudy. When you’re ready to use the frozen stock, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.