Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turkey stock

While I don't run a pure scratch kitchen, I find it hard to let two turkey carcasses go to waste.

A simmering stockpot is the perfect destination for the leftover bones, which I often freeze after serving a turkey dinner.

Turkey stock gives me a chance to return to my culinary roots, to a day when military cooks made the entire meal from scratch. There was no other way.

Even as "convenience food" crept into Navy food service, most galleys continued to scratch-cook most entrees, side dishes and baked items.

We rarely made stock, especially at sea. As the supply of bones diminished, it became increasingly impractical. Plus, dedicating one steal-jacketed kettle on small ships was impractical.

By the time I discharged from active duty in 1979, boneless meats (including raw white and dark meat turkey rolls) had replaced bone-in cuts in the supply system. Commercially available chicken and beef base had replaced the stockpot.

I was thrilled by the opportunity to produce a two-gallon batch of turkey stock each month. Stock production gives me a chance to teach stock-production to residents that enjoy cooking.


Add appropriate kitchen scraps to the stockpot. This is a good way to use onion peels, parsley stems, celery tops and tomato ends. Save for the two or three days leading to stock production.

2 turkey carcasses, about 12 to 14 pounds
2 large onions, roughly chopped
6 ribs celery, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
3-4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
Water to cover

Break up carcass and place in 16- to 20-quart stockpot. Add remaining ingredients. Cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil over heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, skimming occasionally, until turkey flavor comes through in the stock.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into large container. Cool in ice water bath until the internal temperature of stock drops to 41 degrees or less. Refrigerate or freeze in desired amounts.

Yield varies, but you should realize 1-1/2 to 2 gallons.

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