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turkey stock in advance

I think this is finally the Thanksgiving I get over my unreasonable and inexplicable avoidance of making homemade stock. Two questions/requests:

- a good recipe for homemade turkey stock that makes a good quantity (gravy for 15 person dinner)

- How far in advance can you make turkey stock? Can I freeze it to good effect?

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  1. You can modify any chicken stock recipe for turkey stock. I like to brown the parts first. And it freezes well.

    1. I don't use a recipe. I just throw in some onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and turkey parts. However much I can get into my stock pot. Cover with COLD water, bring to a boil and simmer very low for a day or so. Strain and enjoy.
      If you did it right, when you put it in the fridge, it should congeal


      1. Last year I had a big crowd for T'giving so I cooked a turkey a day ahead, removed the meat in large pieces to slice the next day, threw the bones, giblets and a few extra turkey parts from the market in a pot for stock. Like Davwud, I use an ad hoc recipe. I used the pan drippings to make a big batch of gravy so I didn't even have to worry about a roux when the house was filling up with people.
        After I cooked the turkey on Thanksgiving, I added the gravy to the pan drippings with some extra stock and it was as good as any I've ever made - with virtually no fuss.
        I add the extra stock to the de rigeur turkey and andouille gumbo or use it to make rice for dinner. I often serve dirty rice for Thanksgiving, using the giblets from the stockpot.

        Turkey stock freezes well like any other stock so I don't see why you can't make it well ahead. Mine never congeals unless I use turkey parts. Browning the bones or parts makes a richer stock as JudiAU says but I generally don't bother if I'm using it for gravy. I have enough dirty pots and pans on holidays.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MakingSense

          Thank you for the detailed reply. Many good ideas in here!

        2. Alton Brown has a recipe for turkey gravy with green peppercorns to be made ahead using smoked turkey wings/necks. I've made it a couple of times and it is very tasty.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Scrapironchef

            Could you point me to the recipe please? I tried to find it on food network, no luck. I just bought some smoked wings at the store.

          2. Most definitely make your turkey stock from scratch -- it isn't difficult at all. And it freezes perfectly well.

            I am not a fan of a heavy, flour-thickened gravy myself, so a very rich turkey stock is really important. Remember that the stock is the basis of your gravy and, while you want to make it flavorful, you can always add to your gravy flavors from the basic stock.

            For serving 16, I would make a minimum of stock from 5 lbs. of turkey parts (and, I would make more because it freezes an is great to add to soups, etc.) --

            5 lbs. of turkey parts (wings and necks should be a good portion of the mix because they are rich and gelatinous and they are cheap)
            5 large carrots
            3 large onions
            4 large stalks of celery
            3 or 4 cloves of garlic
            the stalks from a bunch of parsley
            a small bunch of fresh thyme
            1 TBL of black peppercorns

            You can be practical and put the garlic, parsley, thyme and peppercorns in a bit of cheesecloth to make it easy to fish out of the stock (I actually use a coffee filter), but you can also just not worry about it since you will be straining the whole thing anyway.

            Put the turkey parts in a roasting pan that can also go on top of the stove, and place in the oven at about 425F. Roast about 20 minutes, then add the carrots and onions, stir everything well, and continue to roast for another 25 minutes or so. You want the turkey parts to be dark golden brown and the veggies to be taking on brown spots.

            Place everything into a large stockpot and add the remaining ingredients, plus about 2 cups of dry white wine and 5 quarts of water. Simmer for about 2 hours. Strain out the solids and refrigerate the broth. The next day, skim the solid fat off the top (and the stock will be more like jello, but that is good!).

            Freeze your stock until you are ready to use it.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Terrie H.

              Thank you so much for this detailed recipe. I'm going to use it.

              1. re: Terrie H.

                1. Turkey necks have a gamey flavor that some people don't find suitable for stock. They're a lot like gizzards. Some people put gizzards in stock, some don't. I, personally, find necks too gamey. Wings will give you plenty of flavor and plenty of body by themselves.

                2. A very very small percentage of chefs put garlic in poultry stock. Imo, it's way too overpowering and has no place in traditional gravy. The amount in this recipe is especially disconcerting. This isn't turkey stock, it's garlic soup.

                3. White wine is fantastic in classic French sauces, but in Thanksgiving gravy, again... not something I'd add.

                4. Poultry stock requires a minimum of 6 hours of simmering for maximum collagen extraction. For turkey wings, I'd go with 9 hours.

                5. Although not classical, many chefs brown their poultry before making stock for a fuller, richer flavor. Browning vegetables, imo, is a huge faux pas, though. Roasted chicken notes=good, roasted veggie notes=overpowering and out of place. Roasted vegetables are for beef stock, not chicken.

                6. Most importantly, 5 lb. of parts yields about 2-3 cups of concentrated stock suitable for gravy. Divide that by 16 and you've got 2-3 T. of gravy per person. That's nothing. Depending on how much your guests like gravy, you'll want anywhere from 1/2 C. to 1 C. per person. For 16 people, I'd simmer a minimum of 16 lb. of wings (in a very big stockpot). Running out of gravy at a Thanksgiving meal is, imo, unforgiveable.

                Brown 16 lb of wings in the oven (400 for about 30 minutes is fine)
                Add wings + drippings (deglaze pan with water) to huge stockpot (or two large stockpots), cover with water, bring to boil
                Reduce heat, cover, simmer 9 hours
                Add aromatics (onions, celery, carrots) during last 2 hours, if using (I don't)

                Strain (you'll need a huge strainer and big bowl or another huge stockpot)
                Return to heat and reduce stock to about 1/3 of original quantity (about 12 C.)- multiple stockpots help the stock reduce faster
                Let cool at room temp until 145 deg., then place in an ice water bath (fill sink halfway with water/some ice)
                Once relatively cool, carefully transfer to fridge, keeping level/not disturbing layer of fat collecting
                Chill overnight

                Next day:
                Scrape the fat off the top of the gelled stock and freeze 3/4 C. separately
                Freeze stock in baggies in 2 C. portions

                Day before:
                Thaw stock

                Day of:
                Make a beige roux with 1 C. flour and 3/4 C. turkey fat
                Add stock and slowly bring to a boil stirring constantly
                Simmer for 1 minute stirring constantly
                Reduce heat to the barest possible simmer and leave for 10-15 minutes whisking occassionally.
                Add salt/pepper and, if necessary, add water to thin (or reduce to thicken)

                Serve- gravy can be 'held' for as long as an hour at a bare simmer.


                Reducing to 12 cups should give you about 9 cups gravy-ready stock and 3 cups fat.

                1. re: scott123

                  I agree, running out of gravy is truly unforgivable.

                  Thanks for typing all this information out... This type of recipe is really what I was thinking of was involved in making homemade stock, which was why I've never done it. I'm pretty intimidated! Not to mention short of ginormous pots and strainers.

                  I might be back to the drawing board buying homemade stock from the local gourmet grocer.

                  1. re: celeste

                    Celeste, culinarily speaking, there's nothing better on this planet than homemade stock. It takes a lot of work, but, if done correctly, the work you put in comes back tenfold in a heavenly tasting gravy.

                    This being said, stock for gravy for, say, 4 people is an entirely different animal than for 15. Logistically speaking, gravy for 15 can be challenging. If you've never made stock before, I'm not sure this is the best way of getting your feet wet.

                    Start making stock for yourself this winter and by next fall, you'll be a pro.

                    1. re: scott123

                      Thanks for the encouragement. :-) I will do it sometime, but this Thanksgiving I think the smart and sane thing to do is pass.

                      1. re: celeste

                        Hey Celeste

                        To me, the work involved in making stock is all manual. Cutting, straining, that kinda stuff.
                        I can't tell you how much you're over thinking this. It's not intimidating at all. Just add some veggies to a bunch of turkey parts, simmer, strain, fridge, defat, Bob's your uncle.
                        Even if you don't do all that great a job, you'll be amazed at how good it is.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Agreed. The least professional homemade stock still beats the best canned/boxed stock, IMO.

                  2. re: scott123

                    Scott, I'm with you, although I have found it better to do a double stock, creating my primary with mostly chicken feet and chicken and turkey wings, backs, etc., onions and leeks. The feet seems to break down completely in 3-4 hours. Then using that primary stock in place of water, I pretty closely follow the rest of your approach using turkey wings, thighs and legs that have been browned.

                    A final difference is that I find a more deeply colored roux using clarified butter works better, providing a deeper color and toastier notes in the final sauce (gravy). Also, a note for celeste, if you use a roux to thicken, you need to skim the fat and flour protein scum that will accumulate on the surface.

                2. As soon as I get my turkey, i amputate it's legs, which no one in our house likes, and use them to make the stock. The remaining bird looks a little weird, but roasts up fine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: danna

                    I'm cooking for just my parents and myself this year and none of us really care for the dark meat. There have been some years where we've just had a turkey breast, but it really doesn't put out much in the way of drippings. This year they bought a 10-lb bird, so I'm planning to thaw it a little early, spatchcock it, and cut off the wings and legs, so I can use the wings, legs and backbone to make stock in advance. Obviously the final bird won't make the cover of Martha Stewart magazine, but when it's just us, no one cares. Plus the flattened bird leaves room for the stuffing and yams in the oven and the turkey will be done in less than two hours.

                  2. I take the finished turkey stock and reduce that slowly over browned turkey parts ending with a turkey gelatin which is the base for my gravy. It ends up like a demi glace.

                    1. Just this afternoon I saw part of a Tyler Florence show ("Tyler's Ultimate") where he made turkey gravy. It looked like a good recipe. This link has the recipe and says the show will be on again on 11/18.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Atomica

                        I've used this recipe every year since I first saw it, very good and can be done days ahead.

                      2. If you are asking about turkey stock the answers you have gotten are great. If are trying to simplfy and get turkey gravy ahead of the day with great flavor and little time, that is another question. I am currently in charge of "ahead of time gravy" for 2 places. I buy necks and a few legs and make a dense stock (crock pot for 12+ hours works well) Then reduce, add flavorings that the particular family likes, and thicken lightly (currently favor a little cornstarch. Personally like mushrooms, but since this is a tradtion day it really is what the family considers "correct"...

                        1. If you're asking about making gravy ahead of time. Make the stock, skim the fat but keep it. Use it to make the roux. Should you be using one.


                          1. These are all great recipes for turkey broth. I have found one additional thing that really adds to both the flavor and richness of the broth. At some point in the process, either before or after cooking the turkey (depending on what you are starting with), break all the bones with a cleaver, and split the bone in every joint. This exposes the marrow and allows it to come out into the broth. Also, instead of starting with water when boiling the bones, I start by boiling the turkey parts/bones in one to two bottles of red wine for about two hours, then add water. The red wine acidity seems to bring more of the nutrients into the broth and adds a flavor of its own that is rich.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rmcdow

                              I would like to bring back this old thread. I will surely be needing the make ahead gravy info at my fingertips in the next few weeks. Thanksgiving is coming!

                              1. re: mma800

                                Made my stock! Wasn't scary at all and came out great I think!
                                I actually did 2 batches- the first with a package of turkey legs and the second with the rest of the turkey we had last night. I did both in my Cuisinart All-Cooker. For the first batch, I roasted the legs first and then added the water, onion, celery, carrot and seasonings (thyme, rosemary and sage ) and let it slow cook for 12 hours. I repeated the process with the turkey carcass/parts (already roasted) and it looks divine!
                                This morning, I reduced both to concentrate and they are all happily in my freezer. Discs of fat are separate to use for roux (planning to do make ahead gravy). I think I have almost 2 GALLONS of stock. Should be plenty for my big crowd this turkey day!!

                            2. I have turkey stock from the last turkey dinner stored in the freezer--that way I have it to make the stuffing and other needs when it is needed--works great even though it may be over a year old. (freezer holds things at -10)

                              1. I don't use a recipe either, I still have a few jars of stock from last years turkey carcass that I canned. Basically the same as chicken stock but with turkey.

                                1. You obviously got a lot of good advice here (although I did not read all of the posts) but last year Michael Ruhlman, noted food writer, had a story and recipe about exactly what it is you are looking for:


                                  edit.,.,,I just noticed this thread is 5 years old. Ruhlman does have a good recipe/technique for great Thanksgiving gravy. The key is the dark roast on the legs and wings.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    In that recipe would I do the 8hour simmer with the lid on, then take it off when I add the veggies? Or should I do the whole thing uncovered and add water as the level goes down?

                                    1. re: mrip541

                                      You're right, he doesn't say if the lid should be on or not. I always keep the lid on when simmering stock in the oven. You can always reduce it a little more if need be. I always do beef stock for 10 to 12 hours overnight with the lid on as well. Using this method of roasting the wings and legs and then the long simmer really makes for a rich stock that makes an excellent gravy.

                                  2. I bought two turkeys this year. One is frozen and is thawing in the fridge. The other was about a 10 pound fully baked turkey. I broke it down so I could have turkey salad before Thanksgiving and s I could make a nice turkey stock from the bones and scrap meat.

                                    I have about 2.5 quarts of wonderful stock, nicely jelled. I cooked mine in the crockpot. I will use it to make the stuffing which I don't cook in the bird cavity. I will also use it to make some very nice gravy.

                                    The frozen turkey is only about 12 pounds so turkey won't be running out of our ears and I can freeze the left overs.