One of the things I always do before Thanksgiving and Christmas, to streamline things, is make turkey stock a week or two ahead of time and freeze it. This allows me to also make my dressing ahead of time and gives me flavorful broth to make the gravy. However, it's also an easy way to make any delicious white-stock-based soup. I'm a big fan of brothy soups, so I do this as soon as I've used up the stock in my freezer. I also save every roasted chicken carcass in a ziplok bag in the freezer and add those to the pot as well. Of course you can substitute broth in a box, but once you get used to having your own stock, it will be harder to "settle". (Confession: I still do it when I have to.) Then after I've cooked the turkey, I use the carcass to make another batch for the inevitable turkey soup.
- 1 package turkey wings, about 1 - 1.5 lbs, or 1 turkey carcass, meat removed
- 2 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 1 handful parsley stems
Put the wings or turkey carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring this mixture to a simmer while you prepare the other ingredients. Once the pot begins to simmer, use a ladle to skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface. Continue to skim, throughout the cooking process. Do not let the pot boil.
Once you have skimmed the first time, you may add the rest of the ingredients. The more you skim, the clearer the stock will be. There is a lot of good meat on the turkey wings, so after about an hour, you can lift the wings out, cool slightly, remove the meat, and return the bones to the stock. This is a little messy, but worth it, for the extra protein to add to your soup. By the time the stock is fully cooked, the wing meat will be pretty dry and stringy. Allow the stock to simmer for 3 - 4 hours.
Place a fine mesh colander or strainer over a bowl* large enough to hold the stock. If you have cheesecloth, line the strainer and your stock will be clearer. Pour the stock through the strainer, catching all of the debris in the colander. Set 5 or 6 quart-sized deli containers in the sink. From the bowl, pour the stock into the containers. Fill the sink with cold water to cool the stock. As soon as the containers are cool enough to handle, drain the sink, cover and put the deli containers into the refrigerator or freezer. I always label them with the product name and the date it was made.
Nothing makes me happier than finding quarts of frozen stock waiting for me when I open my freezer. They fit neatly in the door and are quick to thaw and use. It's a great way to start the Soup Season!
*a restaurant stainless steel bowl, 8 qt size, with a small lip is perfect for this task. Lightweight, easy to pour from, easy to clean. If you don't have one, they are very inexpensive. Treat yourself.