The week or so following a holiday offer a great time to load up on cheap turkey bones for stock. At my local QFC, I scored turkey backs, necks and wings for 29 to 59 cents a pound. I alerted my butcher friend Carlos that I was looking for them, and he pulled together a massive family pack of 10 pounds and slapped on a discount price of $2.81 cents. For about six bucks, I cleared out the rest of the packages for 15 pounds of bones, enough for my 22-quart stock pot and put them into my deep freezer.
Given the high today was predicted at 19 degrees here in Seattle, I decided it was stock time. After thawing the bones overnight, soaking them in water and then roasting the bones in a hot oven, I followed my friend Ted’s stock recipe and let the bones simmer for about eight hours. One addition to the original recipe is that I add in all the onion skins; I think it provides a little extra sheen and color.
The result is excellent quality stock with no preservatives, ready and waiting in the freezer. As you can see from the photo, I mark stuff with blue painters tape and a sharpie, a common practice in professional kitchens. Like my fancy plastic containers? Reduce, reuse and recycle, baby.
My friend ted’s stock recipe
My chef friend Ted developed a 2,000-word missive on the perfect stock. This simplified version captures key points of his méthode. A good stockpot is critical. Get a sturdy pan with a thick bottom, preferably stainless steel, which is nonreactive and easy to clean. Pure, clean water is essential, as the long simmering process concentrates all flavors, the good and the bad, which includes any gunk in your local water supply. This recipe is for a ten- to twelve- quart stockpot. Adjust the recipe as needed to fit your stockpot. Carrots can add sweetness to a stock; Ted adds them only to beef or veal stock, but it’s up to you.
About 8 pounds (3.5 kg) chicken or beef and veal bones
8 quarts (8 l) pure, clean, cold water
1 pound (1 or 2 large) onions
½ pound (about 3 ribs) celery
½ pound (about 2 large) carrots (for brown stock only)
Parsley stems from one bunch
Few whole black peppercorns
bay leaf (optional)
Prepare and roast the bones
If bones are frozen, remove from freezer with plenty of time to thaw in fridge; this could take twenty- four hours. Place thawed and/ or fresh bones in stockpot or bowl and cover with water. Let stand for fifteen minutes and then drain, discarding the water. This helps to remove salt, freezer frost, blood, and other undesirables. If making a white chicken stock, skip the browning step and put the bones into the pot with fresh water.
To make a brown beef or chicken stock, roast the bones in a 375°F/ 1 90°C oven for 40 minutes, then add the vegetables. Continue to roast until the bones have a rich brown color, for a total of about sixty to ninety minutes.
Simmering the stock
Transfer the browned bones and vegetables to the stockpot and then cover with water. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add water, and gently loosen the pan drippings. Pour this into the stockpot. In either case, the water level should be at least three inches above the bones. Apply high heat until the stock comes to a slow simmer. Then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. For the next couple of hours, use a ladle to regularly skim the foam and fat from the surface of the stock. Don’t let the stock boil; it will become cloudy.
At this point, add the vegetables, plus peppercorns and bay leaf if desired. Simmer the uncovered stock for a minimum of four hours for chicken and at least eight hours for beef, skimming every ninety minutes. Add water as needed to keep the bones submerged.
Straining the stock
A big stock pot with bones is both hot and heavy. Don’t try to pour out its contents. Instead, use a long pair of tongs to remove most of the bones and discard. Ladle or pour the remaining stock and vegetables through a colander into a clean bowl or bowls. Take care to avoid burning yourself.
Strain it again, this time through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Either use the stock immediately or cool the stock as quickly as possible. To cool, pour the stock into several bowls. Place these bowls over others filled with ice, or, after the stock has cooled to below 175°F/ 80°C, plop freezer bags filled with ice into bowls. Ladle into freezer- proof containers and freeze.