A couple years ago, after buying our crock pot, we decided to make stock out of the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. It was our first Thanksgiving living together (second Thanksgiving together, period) and I still was not working and he had not signed on at his current job yet. Money was tight. He wasn’t supporting me (not because he didn’t want to – I didn’t want him to), so purchases we made were well thought out and useful. If we bought junk food, we tried to stretch it as far as possible. If we bought perishable food, we tried to use as much of it as possible. You get the idea.
I had never made stock before. In fact, I didn’t realize just how easy it was. It’s a lengthy process, as far as cooking all the bones, fat, etc., down goes, but aside from a few preliminary steps, it’s a piece of cake.
Our first batch of turkey stock came out excellent. We froze them in Ziploc quart containers with a bit of turkey meat at the bottom and used them as soup bases for the next 6 months.
Recently, I decided to buy a whole rotisserie chicken from Costco. I dissected the bird and made a myriad of meals out of the meat. The bones and skin sat in the fridge for a day before I finally decided to make another stock; the first batch since our last attempt two years before.
In went the bones and water in to the crock pot and I let that sucker cook down for upwards of 10 hours. What came out was this beautiful broth that was immediately used for my attempt at Locro de Papa and the rest put in to quart Ziploc bags and frozen flat. I had to laugh at The Fellow’s™ suggestion of freezing the stock in bags. I always use the plastic quart containers because they’re seemingly easier to store in the freezer, but honestly? The bags are pretty awesome, too. As long as you can get them perfectly flat (which isn’t difficult), they stack really well.
After that wonderful endeavor, The Fellow™ reminded me that we still had a whole 9 pound turkey in the basement freezer from last year when we managed to score two turkeys – the 9 pounder and a 16 pounder (if I remember correctly) for about $10 because Albertson’s had a super awesome deal if you spent $100 or more on other groceries. Something like $4 and $6 for the turkeys. We cooked up the bigger of the two (obviously) because there was a total of 3 grown men and little ‘ol me (and then the gal that had to work that night at the gas station whom I was feeding regularly) having Thanksgiving dinner, but the second went straight in to the freezer and sat for almost a year.
So one Sunday, I cooked up that sucker. I made a delicious early Thanksgiving dinner, stripped the bones of as much meat as possible, and separated everything out in to two batches for stock. I used my timer pot to make both batches for two days in a row and it came out excellent.
One thing that happened this time around with the turkey stock that did not happen the first time I made it was that it went gelatinous on me! A quick Google search told me I had “done it right” if that was the end result and that heating it up would make it liquid again. Good to know. I thought I had screwed up because I left it to chill in the fridge for too many days.
That was something pretty awesome I decided to do – whether it’s commonly practiced or not, I don’t know – was storing the cooked stock in a 6 quart container in the fridge and let the fat surface and solidify to make straining it out all the easier. Doing it with the chicken was simple. The turkey was a bit more difficult just because of the slight solid state of the stock. Everything just sort of melted together as soon as I broke through the fatty surface. I still managed to skim most of the fat off.
Instead of doing my normal cut with ingredients and directions on how to make stock, I shall leave you all with this:
Whether you’re using chicken or turkey, throw your leftover bones, skin flaps, and even some meat, in to a crock pot with salt, pepper, chopped veggies like carrots, onions, celery, etc. (the choices are nearly limitless), and even a little cayenne or something to give it a kick. Add enough water to cover all the fowl bits and pieces and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Once it has reached its desired flavor (you can continue to reduce and reduce the longer it cooks for and therefore the taste varies…), let it cool and pour in to a large enough container to house in the refrigerator for a few days. A layer of fat will form at the top of your stock. Skim with a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and divide the stock. I put 4 cups in to quart Ziploc freezer bags (after labeling them with stock type and the month/year), as that tends to be a good amount for soups. You can divvy up any extra meat in to the freezing batches, and you can either do the same with the stock’s veggies, or toss them.