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Jan 27, 2013 05:11 PM

Exploding Turkey Stock

I make stock from bird carcasses whenever I have them available. Today, I had a pot of turkey stock on the stove. It had been simmering for two days over low-heat with a loose-fitting lid. About midway through the day, I heard a loud crash in my kitchen. When I walked out to see what had happened, I was greeted with the sight of turkey stock and fat everywhere.

The lid that once sat nicely on the pot was flipped over, upside down. Stock and fat were all over the floor and the wall. Stock, fat and pieces of what look like turkey back or neck, along with skin, were covering stove. The explosion was so fierce that it managed to flip the lid into the dial on my stove and turn it off. At least, I assume that’s how the dial of my stove got turned to “off.”

I have an electric stove, if it matters. I just want to know what the heck happened… I put everything that comes in the inside of the bird into the stock, save for the liver. I cut off the fat that covers the vent and neck hole to toss it in. All raw. It simmered fine for over 48 hours. Then suddenly, explosion!

I poked through the remaining stock, I didn’t put in anything that wasn’t part of the bird. It took me nearly an hour to clean up the mess and I don’t want to go through this experience again.

Has this happened to anyone before? Is there some exploding part of the turkey that no one ever told me about? Can’t find anything on Google…

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  1. An unusual event. Is it possible that the lid managed to get an air tight seal so no steam could escape? The steam pressure would have eventually popped the lid off. Just a guess, but I have had lids get a little greasy fat on the edge and stick tightly to the pot.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hippioflov

      The cats are the usual suspects when it comes to unusual noises from the kitchen, but I agree with your seal theory: if there is some liquid on the rim of the pot, and the lid is on, and the temperature fluctuates it's possible. Consider this scenario: when the stock is heated air is driven out of the pot. When the pot cools down, the air left in the pot cools down and contracts (that good old Universal Gas Law in action) and if there is liquid - especially a greasy liquid - on the rim a seal can form: that's how canning works. Then if the temperature is allowed to go up again the air in the stockpot expands and has no where to go so it blows the top off.

    2. I had this happen to me when I was making a chicken demi-glace. Open pot, very low temperature setting on an induction hob, and the contents exploded when I touched the surface with my ladle.

      I probably set up a scenario where the contents were superheating with the surface film of protein acting like a balloon and my ladle acting like the pin to pop said balloon. I still have some of the scald marks on my hand and forearm and it took a little longer to clean because it's hard to wipe down surfaces if one has just scalded a hand.

      I suspect that your turkey stock was also superheated, though it was probably the surface tension of the stock itself rather than the lid. Cause of explosion? Probably some little bit of vibration that disturbed the pot contents.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wattacetti

        Same thing happened to me with exploding duck stock and I got the same explanation that wattacetti proposes. See that thread here. I am so sorry to hear that you got hurt wattacetti and so glad that you did not, Levaeria! I have been wary of stock ever since and do subscribe to the roast first method proposed by wonderwoman, as well as leaning away when I stir.

      2. "simmering for two days..." that's long, long time.

        may i suggest an alternative: the oven. put the carcasses in a deep roasting pan, cover with water and cook (uncovered) for several (3-4) hours in a 250-degree oven. add aromatic veggies amd simmer for another hour or 2.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wonderwoman

          agreed about the 2 days, that is an excessive amount of time for a Poultry stock.
          Even when starting with raw bones 5 hours is plenty for a thorough extraction.

        2. This just happened to me last night and I was standing right there. I was reheating the water I had boiled a chicken in about one hour earlier in a quality stock pot with a fitted lid and Mount Vesuvius erupted not once but three times! A total screaming mess. Flooded the gas cook top and all the sealed burners and the electric oven below would not work. A roll of paper towels and 12 hours later everything is back to normal. Talk about a frigging mess! Glad to hear I'm not alone. This is cooking disaster number two for me in two days. I may decide to send out for pizza for the Superbowl.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Berheenia

            I have never forgotten my exploding stock experience, so sorry to hear you had one too. Hope you were not hurt Berheenia!