Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 10, 2009 07:40 AM

Help: Broth from Turkey Carcass?

We are cooking a turkey today and I'd like to make a soup broth from the carcass. Help! I have never done it before and need simple step by step instructions. My goal this year is to start making soups and I am I soup virgin.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Put turkey carcass in large stock pot, just add water to cover. Add aromatics such as onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf and s&p. Simmer quite a while. Discard aromatics and carcass. You should have a nice soup base now. If you reduce stock some more the flavour will obviously intensify. Sorry forgot to tell you to skim fat off broth.

    1. I always do it. Easy as pie. Just break up the carcass so it doesn't take up so much space in the pot, cover with cold water, add any of the usual aromatics and herbs you might want (carrots, onions, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, etc.), bring to a boil, skim the top, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for an hour or two. Cool and strain, then correct seasoning with salt and pepper. I think I'm not supposed to, but I go thru the turkey bits and recover the usable meat to use later.

      2 Replies
      1. re: johnb

        Nothing at all wrong with retrieving the meat from the simmered carcass...why the heck not? I do it all the time, and add the meat to croquettes or even turkey salad.

        1. re: The Professor

          It just depends on how long you simmer it. If it's been "making stock" too long, the leftover bits of meat are tasteless (the flavor is already in the stock). That said, it won't hurt, it just might be bland.
          I'm much more likely to pick all really usable meat off first, because I let all of my stocks simmer a LONG time. Certainly much more than a hour or two. So, by then, any actual meat isn't worth using. But boy is the stock rich and wonderful!
          In addition to saving bones and carcasses, I save trimmings from chicken breasts or parts in my freezer. So my chicken stock at least generally has a mix of bones and fresh meat.
          Other than that, you've gotten a lot of great advice with the step-by-steps here already.
          You will love making your own stocks. I use some the next day (after skimming fat) to make soup, and then freeze some in various sized containers or bags. That way I have some for a little stock to add to a pan sauce without having to defrost a whole quart.

      2. Oh, it's so easy and delicious. I make it all the time with chicken or turkey and then freeze in various Rubbermaid containers, but also freeze several ice cube trays of broth and use them for sauces, soups, etc. You'd be surprised how much it makes a flavor difference.

        Recipes I'm sure vary, but I keep it simple:

        1. Roughly chop up onions (some people leave the skins on for a more golden color, I peel it), carrots, celery--especially the leaves, garlic, and sometimes if I have some fennel just hanging around, I'll add that too, and sometimes whole peppercorns if I remember. Add all of that and your turkey or chicken into your largest stockpot.

        2. Then fill it up with cold water, just not too high so that it overflows when simmering.

        3. Put it on the heat, probably a medium, so that it gently simmers, and just let it slowly simmer for at least 2-3 hours, but I have been known to let it go for much, much longer than that, just adding water as it gets more concentrated and lower in water. In my experience, the longer you let it slow and low simmer, the richer the flavor.

        4. Then, you can let it cool for just a bit, strain it, (I like to eat the boiled to death veg with boiled chicken or turkey--a childhood thing) or freeze the veg and add to a gravy, it's delicious and rich tasting.

        Then, you can cool it and freeze it if you have more than you need from it, or just season and eat. Once you have the basics down, you can experiment with your flavors, some people I know add ginger; I myself sometimes put in some star anise or nutmeg--I just think it gives it an added flavor of richness and you can't even really detect it, it's just that special something.

        Anyway, good luck and let us know how it goes!

        1. We love the fact that a great roasted fowl gives up its life for a series of meals by using the carcass for a stock suitable for soups, risotto, sauces, etc. First rule we learned was not to wait too long from the roasting effort to the making of stock. The one time we deferred and tried to refrigerate the bones to make stock a day later was the one time the entire family suffered from that decision so our approach is tempered by following safe handling techniques as much as possible.

          Immediately following dinner, we strip the carcass of the meat to be saved and salvaged (refrigerating that immediately). Simultaneously, prep a stock pot (we use a 7 qt. All-Clad for chickens or ducks) or a 12 qt. Commercial Sitram for big birds like Turkeys by placing several rough chopped carrots, chopped celery ribs and quartered onions into the pot along with a couple of bay leaves, few dozen black peppercorns, tablespoon of dried thyme into the pot.

          As we strip down the carcass, any parts that are too small to eat (such as the wing tips) any leftover skin pieces, any meaty parts that are too stringy or gristle, etc that can't be culled for future sandwiches, get tossed into the stock pot. We turn the heat on moderate to start warming the pot and usually sacrifice any leftover white wine from dinner as the initial liquid into the pot. If there is less than a half bottle, we open an inexpensive white like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, screwtop variety that is good enough to drink but cheap enough to use for stocks and deglazing to form the base of the liquid. We break down all of the meat from bones and every single bone or bone clusters goes into the stock pot. Wrangle the carcass into pieces, breaking it down as far as you care to work it and any meat scraps that are not salvageable go into the stock pot. Finally, by working over top the serving platter, all accumulated juices get poured into the stock pot.

          At the point we will add enough good quality bottled spring water (Poland Springs) to cover the top of the bones by an inch or so. Occaisionally, if we know we want a double rich stock, will fill 50% using low salt canned chicken stock and 50% water to help boost the flavor components but frankly that is seldom needed for most soups. We turn the temperature down to medium low and allow the stock to gradually reach a low simmering boil (20 to 40 minutes) and then skim the white foam from the top that accumulates during the first 15 minutes of reaching a boil. We turn the heat down after the boil point to the near lowest setting on our stove which allows the stock to burp along with very slow bubbles, all uncovered for as long as we want but experience that stock made for less than 2 hours is barely worth the effort. Stock made for 4+ hours is really excellent and stock made for 6+ hours can be convenient from a timing perspective and resulting in a more gelatinous ending but not necessarily with more flavors than the 4-5 hour stocks.

          Once ready to strain the stock, we fill our sink with as many ice cubes as we have accumulated in our icemaker and mix with cold water to a depth that is going to equal the height of stock in our transfer pot. Until we bought a commercial chinois, we used a wire mesh strainer set atop a clean transfer pot and ladle the hot stock through the chinois so it strains itself. Once about half full, we take the transfer pot into the ice water and stir the hot stock around and also move the pot around so the ice water bath drops the temperature of the stock from 200 degrees to luke warm temperature in just several minutes. You can taste the cooled stock at this point and when it seems around room temperature transfer it into our storage containers and get them into the refrigerator. Then we go back to the remainder of the hot stock and repeat the procedure until you have processed all of hot stock. Obviously, the more ice you have available, the faster the stock cooling will take place so for really big batches we will pick up a 7 or 10 lb bag of ice from the local 7-11 to supplement our icemaker and typically that is good to handle the liquid coming out of our 12 qt. stockpot.

          The results have always been well worth the effort. Obviously, we deal with the accumulated fat that separates from the stock the next day or two as we use the containers of stock, by peeling up the hardened fat at the top of the container. If we do not have a plan to use the stock within a couple of days, the containers go into the freezer with a date label (we use a piece of duct tape with marker). Given our past dance with bad stock, we use the refrigerated version for up to 5 days from prepping (especially when stored at the very back of the refrigerator) or 90 days when frozen. After that, it is time for another roast.

          By the way, as someone who loves to brine birds before roasting, we have found the need to reduce the salt content of our brines, (and therefore brine for longer periods) as a way to ensure the subsequent stocks don't become overly salty.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ThanksVille

            I was under the impression, stock from a cooked carcass didn't have "enough" left in them, to make it worth my effort, so I hadn't tried it.. I usually buy wings and legs pretty cheaply to make stock. In addition to taste, when it "sets", I feel it's pretty rich. How does your stock from a cooked cross compare to other stocks you've made?

            BTW, it's not the cooking that requires the "effort"; it's more the straining, cooling, pouring, storage, and clean-up. Reducing it A LOT helps, which I usually do AFTER removing most of the bones, but before straining. I don't want to boil before removing the bones, and worry a little about doing it before straining.

            1. re: Shrinkrap

              Stock from a cooked carcass is certainly not as rich as that made from raw parts. However, if you use some of the roasted skin and the leg bones, you get that richer browned Maillard reaction taste that isn't there in stock from raw parts. It's essentially free food, just needing more reduction. You can always do a combination of both. Instead of straining, scoop out the solids with a spider before reducing the volume. Then you don't need to strain until the stock has cooled and you are ladling it into the storage containers.

              1. re: greygarious

                Thanks! I usually roast the parts withe the veggies fn the "Mailard "and scoop solids, but there's enough stuff still in there, that I DID still worry about boiling. I think clarity is supposed to be the reason, so thanks janeh.

                BTW, I only do turkey broth for holidays, and started doing it this way because I do it the week before the Turkey.... How much of this applies to a chicken carcass?

                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  The bones, skin, and anything left in the pan from one roast chicken can make one easy quart of stock.
                  I bought a small crock pot. The little 2 quart ones are always on sale somewhere like Wal-Mart or drug stores for less than $10. They easily accommodate everything from one chicken. Mine has On, Low, and High. I set it and leave it overnight.
                  The seasonings from the chicken are enough to flavor the stock and it never boils so the stock is clear.
                  I unplug it and when it's cooled, I strain it. The strainer and crock part go right in the dishwasher. Easy cleanup. The container goes into fridge until the fat congeals and that gets scooped off. Then I either use the stock in the next few days or freeze it.
                  This is FREE food. Much richer than store-bought stock.
                  That little crock pot has paid for itself many times over.

            2. re: ThanksVille

              I space out my stock-making without worrying about the carcass going bad by freezing it in a ziploc bag. I'll add leftover herbs, celery stalks, carrots, etc to the bag when I have them around, and when I have all the fixins and am low on stock I dump the bag into a pot and make another batch.

            3. You will find that there is less gelatin and fat (and consequently less richness) in turkey stock than in chicken. I don't like roasted wings so I remove them before roasting, along with the extra globs of fat around the cavity, and save them raw to add ot the stockpot later. Their meat contributes more flavor to the stock that way. Any unwanted skin from the cooked bird can also go into the pot. Once the stock cools, skim off the fat and freeze it for use in sauteeing meats and potatoes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious

                I also remove the wings prior to cooking the turkey since they don't get eaten BUT I make stock with them while the turkey is cooking so I can use it for the gravy.