If you roasted a turkey Thursday, you are now in possession of kitchen gold: a turkey carcass.
Now it’s time to make stock.
Cookbooks have a tendency to make stock sound more complicated than it is. If you have the turkey carcass, here is the basic recipe:
Put the carcass into a big pot. Cover the carcass by about 2 inches of water and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.
For those of you who’d like a bit more detail, here are some tips:
- To prepare the carcass, pick off any meat and break the carcass into manageable pieces that will fit into your pot.
- If you have them on hand, you can throw in a carrot or two (cut into big chunks), a celery rib or two (ditto) and an onion, which you don’t even have to peel; just halve it through the poles. You also can add a dozen or so peppercorns and a few sprigs of thyme. If, perchance, your turkey recipe called for inserting some of these vegetables into the cavity before roasting, throw them in, too. Don’t add any salt at this point.
- It’s tempting to cover these ingredients with lots of water, but that will only result in watery stock. Two inches should do it. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot with the lid slightly askew, then turn down the heat so that it simmers very slowly. For the first half hour or so you can occasionally skim the surface to remove any foam. Or not.
- Three hours is about the limit for simmering this stock. Once you’ve turned off the heat, use tongs and/or a slotted spoon to remove whatever solids you can from the liquid. Taste the stock. If it doesn’t have enough flavor, turn the heat back on and simmer, lid off, until it does. Now add salt to taste. (If you salt before you reduce, you risk oversalting.)
- Pour the liquid into a bowl and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim the fat off the surface and strain it through a cheesecloth-lined colander. (If it has gelled, warm it gently before straining.)
What to do with your stock? Here are some very simple ideas:
- Put the stock in a saucepan and add back any meat you picked off the carcass, and any suitable leftover vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans. Chop the vegetables before adding them. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Heat a few cups of stock in a small saucepan and when it simmers, use a fork to swirl in some beaten eggs: turkey egg-drop soup.
- That box of spaghetti with only 17 strands of spaghetti left in it? Break them into short segments and simmer them in the stock until al dente. (This also works with the box containing 34 elbow macaroni.)
- Have you got some dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms? Soak a handful of them in a cup of hot water until they soften up, remove them from the liquid and chop them. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter to catch any dirt, then add the liquid, the mushrooms and some barley to the stock. Simmer until the barley is tender.
- Make any soup that you’ve previously made with canned broth and revel in the fact that you made your own stock.