Today we’re going to cover one of the basics that is so incredibly easy to make and I think not enough people take the time because they may find it intimidating. There are a few rules, but it’s otherwise a ‘choose your own adventure’. I’m talking about stock! I’m taking you through a stock that I made with chicken, turkey and duck bones. Never throw your bones away, people. They still have life left!!!
Depending on how many carcasses you have, you will need a big pot. You can probably fit 2-3 in a regular stock pot if they are broken down, but I like to wait to make stock until I can make many many litres of it (or until my freezer physically cannot store any more bird bones).
A few rules. For birds specifically, I won’t use anything that has been stuffed with bread (think Thanksgiving Turkey) and I also won’t use anything that’s been fried (again, think Thanksgiving Turkey). Anything stuffed with bread will leave a lot of yeast in the stock and cause it to be cloudy and to spoil quickly- both of which you don't want. You want crystal clear gold coloured stock. I also don’t like to use fried turkey due to the extra oil it adds to the stock. There will be enough natural oils that are released from the bones and the meat still on them that adding anything with additional oil could simply be just too much oil/ fat. I also sometimes find that old oil can also cause stock to spoil and have an old oil taste. So anyways- those are my two main rules.
Turkey/ Chicken/ Duck Bones
Peppers (I always like to add some spicy peppers too)
Salt (lots of salt)
I’m always making my stock from frozen carcasses so the first thing I do is lay them out on sheet trays and brown them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 400℉. This adds a nice depth of flavour to meat that has already been cooked once. You can do the same for the veggies if you want to, but it’s not necessary, more depth will come from the meat.
Once they’re done browning, add all of your bones to a stock pot and fill to cover with water. I usually wait until I have about 8-12 frozen birds, so I always use a massive stock pot and the water fills all the way to the top. At first, you’ll think there’s no room for veggies, but there is. Let the bones simmer for 2 hours before you add anything else. Make sure to check your water levels and top up when you need to.
At this point, it’s likely that you can break down the bones a little better so the veggies can fit. You should easily be able to do this with tongs. Once you’ve broken them down a bit, add your veggies. You can use a wide range of vegetables for this and it’s not limited to the list I have above. Don’t like mushrooms, don’t add them! Have extra cabbage laying around that you want to get rid of? Throw that in there! The only veggies I would not recommend are ones that will affect the colour of the stock (eg. beets, purple cabbage). As much as possible, I leave the veggies whole and will leave things like onion skins on to add more colour to the stock. If you start to chop things up, they’ll break down too quickly and then you’ll be left with mush that cannot be strained out.
Okay so the veggies are in. Now add your bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Depending on how much water you have, you will need a lot of salt, it’s just math. I don’t like to make my stock so that it has the perfect level of salt, because I am never eating this stock on its own- I’ll make fresh soup for that instead. I need it salted so that it has good flavour, but not salted to the point where it ruins whatever dish I’m using it in. It’s a fine line, but I know this to be true- you can always add more salt, but you cannot remove it. Do with that what you will. Continue cooking the stock with your veggies added for another 2-3 hours, monitoring your water levels.
We’re now, at minimum, 4 hours in. This is the least amount of time it should take you to make a good, flavourful stock. At this point, give your stock a little taste and see where you’re at in terms of flavour. If you’re looking for a little more flavour from your aromatics, leave them in a little longer but within the next hour is usually when I begin removing all of my veggies and bones. Your veggies and bones have now done everything you could have asked them to do. Bid them a fond farewell as you throw them away.
Your stock will definitely have some debris leftover from the veggies, meat and spices. Strain your stock through a very fine mesh sieve and put it into as many containers as it can fill. Leave it out until the stock has cooled to room temperature before putting it in the fridge or freezer. I preserve my stock by putting it into plastic containers (lid off because the liquid will expand) and freezing them. Once they’re frozen, I pop them out of the plastic containers and put them in a large ziplock bag for use later. Basically like making stock ice cubes that are about 2 cups of liquid instead of 2 tablespoons.
I don’t know that there is another safe way to store stock for a long period of time, so I’m not even going to suggest anything other than what I have just told you above. I usually don’t have enough containers to freeze it all at once, so I’ll fill as many as I have or my freezer has space for and store the rest of the stock in the fridge until the freezer stock is frozen and those containers have been free’d up to freeze some more. DO NOT FREEZE IN GLASS CONTAINERS OR JARS! You’re asking for a broken glass mess in your freezer.
Stock is super easy to make and I encourage you to always keep your bones any time you make a roast chicken, duck or turkey! Those bones still have life left in them and you should reap all the benefits!