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Turkey vs. Chicken Broth -- Is Turkey weaker?

(Bit of a long post, TLDR at bottom)

Last night, I made some turkey stock/broth for the first time, ahead of our Christmas Turkey dinner. I want to use this stock in the gravy and "stuffing" (which will cook outside the bird, but whatever). I used 2 whole turkey wings (like, drumette, wing, and wing tip), and, because I couldn't find any turkey backs/bones, added a chicken back + random chicken bones, and a handful of chicken gizzards I found on sale. (All parts were added raw; I was under a bit of a time crunch.)

I made this stock/broth the same way as I have done many times for chicken -- cover bones with cold water, add a tiny bit of salt, bring gently to just below boil, skim skim skim, add roughly cut up veg (carrot celery onion), bring back to almost-boil, skim skim skim, lower heat to bare simmer, and let it sit.

Normally, when I do this with store-bought kosher chicken backs, 2 chicken backs will yield a deeply flavourful liquid in about an hour or 2. I don't even need to add extra meat, as there's plenty clinging on the backs. But this time, even though I simmered for 7-8 hours, the liquid was ... kinda weak.

After removing the solids and straining, I reduced it a bit, and that helped. But not much. Upon chilling in the fridge, the liquid has set into a light-medium gel. So, I'm fairly certain I extracted all the gelatin/collagen from the bones and skin.

The lack of *oomph* doesn't really matter for this batch, as I'm just using it as a flavour helper. But when I make turkey soup out of the Christmas dinner leftovers... should I expect that the flavour will be weaker than chicken soup? (Esp. since it'll be cooked bones/meat going in!)

TLDR: Is turkey soup, all other things being equal, supposed to taste less rich/deep than chicken soup? And if not, what am I doing wrong?

Many thanks to all for your wisdom & expertise!

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  1. You are not, IMO, doing anything wrong. I have always found turkey stock to be less flavorful than chicken stock (perhaps that's why they market chicken broth as widely as they do) but have never looked at it scientifically. Perhaps someone can help both of us with this one because if there's a way to obtain the same "oomph" (short of more reduction - which we already considered) I'd like to know the secret too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      I have found that browning the turkey pieces before making the stock helps enhance the flavor quite a lot.

    2. I noticed that you said when you make chicken stock you use Kosher chicken backs and for the turkey stock just a tiny bit of salt. Could it be that you are just under seasoning? Just a thought..

      1. My first thought is that you used only light meat. For really flavorful turkey stock, you'd need a drumstick or two as well!

        The only turkey soup I make is from the carcass of the turkey after I have served it. Usually there's some extra dark meat (as I don't like it as much) so I throw that in with the bones along with carrots, an onion, celery seed and S & P. Boil for 3 - 5 hours then chill. The next day the broth will have a firm set.

        When made this way, I find turkey soup/stock to have a stronger flavor than chicken soup (and I use a whole chicken for my chicken soup).

        So the next time, throw a drumstick in and I think you'll be happier. I hope!

        1. I find turkey stock to be much richer - in fact it is now what I will use as a base for a chicken soup or should I say turkey soup - I use turkey necks that I get form the local kosher butcher -

          1. Agree with happybaker and weinstein5.
            I made turkey stock after Thanksgiving. I used the carcass and maybe a wing or two that was leftover. I added 3 drumsticks, along with the usual carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf etc.
            The stock was incredibly rich and flavorful, even a bit gelatinous once it set up.
            I used the dark meat from the drumsticks to shred into the soup.
            Carcass + dark meat=great turkey stock...more intense than I have ever gotten chicken stock.

            1. Two suggestions:
              As todao mentioned, roasting the bones beforehand really adds flavor. Plus I always break the bones so as to expose the marrow as much as possible. I think it helps.

              1. I think "weaker" is the wrong word.

                Turkey stock is going to taste different from chicken stock because, well, chicken and turkeys are not necessarily the same. It's like my duck stock isn't going to taste the same as my chicken stock. Not sure if one is weaker than the other, but it's definitely different.

                That said, turkey stock is good for somethings that chicken stock is not and vice versa. For example, turkey stock is good for congee, but chicken stock is better for things like vegetable soups.

                1. Thanks everyone, for your responses! I'll be sure to save a drumstick to toss in there, and to season it well. (I did have to under-salt it this time, as I'm using the stock in other already-salted recipes.) I'll probably have time the next day to roast the bones, so that's a great tip.

                  Good point too about the neck... there are always necks in the chicken broth I make, and at Thanksgiving, when we boiled up the turkey neck (in a frantic last-minute attempt to bolster the watery-tasting gravy...), the liquid smelled amazing after just 20 minutes. I'll make sure to keep the turkey neck for the soup!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CuriousCat

                    Good luck with your next batch! I just found some turkey necks at my local grocery store and picked up a package to store in my freezer for my next turkey soup!

                    1. re: monavano

                      I use Martha Stewart's brown turkey stock recipe - the wings/drumsticks are roasted at 425 for a couple of hours, pan is deglazed with Sherry or Madeira, everything goes in a big pot with carrot/onion/celery/a few porcini mushrooms and water to cover - simmer for three hours - amazing rick stock as a gravy base for C-Day.

                  2. Follow up:

                    So, I think there must be something special about backs/necks that aren't captured by using wings alone. (The increased number of small bones/cartilage?) The 2nd batch was much tastier than the first. I used a drumstick w/ some dark meat, the turkey neck, and whole carcass, and it turned out great. Being able to salt it properly (and possibly using seasoned as opposed to raw/unseasoned meat) also helped a lot.

                    I changed too many things from my first attempt to be able to suggest what exactly caused the difference. Bad experiment... but delicious soup! :D Thanks for all your help!