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Taking Stock of Stock

Making stock is one of those things that you appreciate after you've done it and have stowed it in the freezer for future use. Since Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, I figured I had better get cracking on the turkey stock. I use the stock to baste the turkey, moisten the stuffing that doesn't fit in the bird and has to go in a dish in the oven, and as a base for the gravy. It is definitely better than buying that salty stuff that they sell in the store.
Freezer bounty
Stock is the easiest thing in the world to make. All it really requires is some time. I usually have a "stock" bag that I keep in the freezer. I put all the stems from parsley, mushrooms that are starting to get past their prime, and guts from when I seed fresh tomatoes. These are things that you would normally just toss or compost but they definitely have a value for stock. For chicken stock I also have a separate bag for the backs of whole chickens (again something you would normally just toss). 

Turkey Stock (makes about 4 quarts)

4 turkey wings (cut in half at joint)
4 turkey necks
1 T olive oil
5 large carrots
5 stalks celery
2 medium onions
10 peppercorns
parsley, tomatoes, mushrooms (see head note)

In a large stock pot add olive oil and wings and cook until wings are browned. Remove and brown necks.

Put wings back into the pot and add enough water to cover. Cook for about 1 hour. Remove gunk that floats to the top.
You don't want to add the vegetables until you get most of the gunk cooked out. Once the vegetables are added, it makes it more difficult to remove.  Add vegetables and additional water.

Simmer for 6-8 hours.
This will cook down

You may need to occasionally top it up with more water.  Remove vegetables (pressing on them to remove liquid). Remove turkey. Strain liquid and pour into containers. Refrigerate overnight. Remove any fat that has solidified on the top. Freeze in containers.
Notice that there is no salt in the stock. Stock is like a blank slate - it is what is added to it that makes the dish. You don't want to salt the stock because you want to have control over the salt for the particular recipe that you are using it in. 

Some words of wisdom:
  • If you don't want such a dark stock, you don't brown the turkey. 
  • If you have a big pasta pot with an insert, by all means use this to contain all the meat and vege. It makes the straining much easier. You can also strain it through cheesecloth. I don't find it necessary as the strainer I have is pretty fine.  All the cheesecloth does is rob me of more of the liquid gold. 
  • Use the largest pot that you have. It's best to make the most stock you possibly can. You can make stock more quickly in a pressure cooker. I've never tried this because although I have a fairly large pressure cooker, I just feel the size is not big enough.
  • When I make chicken stock I usually make a larger batch and freeze it in 1 cup, 2 cup, 3 cup denominations. The 1 and 2 cups are usually what most recipes call for.  The 3 cup is for making soup.
  • Don't try to eat the meat and vegetables that are cooked out. There really isn't much of a flavor left in them and the texture is just mush. I used to give them to the dog and she loved them but I'm not so sure if it was the taste or just that she was getting something different. But alas, there is no longer a dog (hopefully soon there will be).


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