On Monday my entire house smelled like Thanksgiving! There were not one, but two stocks simmering away on my stove for much of the day. I prepared a vegetable version and a turkey version. I bought turkey thighs and legs and roasted them in the oven for the base of my turkey stock…that alone was enough to send Turkey Day aromas wafting throughout. While I waited for that to finish roasting I assembled my vegetable version. My youngest son is vegan, and I want to make sure there is a hearty base at hand to make many of the foods he eats.
Stock is one of those things that doesn’t take long to assemble. In less than fifteen minutes I can usually have one simmering away on my cooktop. And as I prepared the vegetables for the vegetable stock, I prepped the ones for the turkey stock as well. This made it much easier to throw it together once the turkey was finished roasting. Killing two birds with one stone (or at least one bird was involved)…a nice time saver!
Once finished and cooled, I placed them in my fridge. They sat there overnight for a good soak, allowing as much flavor as possible to seep into the stock before it was strained. Added bonus: the fat from the turkey stock gels and makes it easier to skim off any excess. While I love to make sure I include some of the fats, I also don’t want too many.
Once everything was strained it was packaged in quart-sized freezer bags and put in the freezer.
I really don’t use a set-in-stone recipe. Generally, I start with carrots, onions, and celery. If I have any other vegetables on hand they usually go in as well, especially if they are beginning to look a bit ‘tired’. I then add garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme…parsley if it’s on hand, and sometimes a bay leaf or two. If it is turkey or chicken or beef based, I use the bones/carcass as well. Water goes in and then it just simmers for a bit.
If you are looking for a more precise recipe with proper measurements and all, I find this one at Serious Eats to be a good one.
- One of the reasons I make stock in advance is so I can make gravy while the turkey cooks. Gravy is just one of those areas that slows me down in getting my meal on the table (while trying to keep everything hot at the same time). It seems there is a frenzy at the end, and for me, gravy is the tipping point. I prepare mine while the turkey cooks so it is ready to go. If by chance I don’t find myself in that crazy time crunch, I will take the time to add some of those turkey juices to the already-made batch on the stove.
- When freezing stock, use freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer to allow them to freeze that way (obviously seal them first!). This not only can help from a storage perspective, but when you go to use them they will thaw out faster. And make sure it is not still warm when it goes in!! No need to raise that freezer temperature unnecessarily.
- The stock makes a beautiful and healthy base to soups. I’ve learned I can thaw frozen stock in a pan over low heat. As it thaws I prep anything to go into the soup. Once thawed, I toss in my ingredients and let them simmer until finished. It makes for an easy and rather fast meal.
Anything which makes it easier to enjoy my family, friends, and all that great food is worth it!!