I’ve gotten this question a lot recently.  What are the three things or techniques that separate the professional cook’s food from the home cook’s food?

I want to talk about Number 2: the second most important difference is the fact that professional kitchens make their own stock.

I cannot say this strongly or loudly enough: DO NOT use canned stock/broth.  Use WATER instead.  I repeat.  You DO NOT NEED to buy that crappy can of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth!  It will HURT your food.  Use water instead.  When that recipe says 1 cup of fresh chicken stock (or good quality canned broth), please know that your food, 90 percent of the time, will taste better if you use tap water instead of that "good quality" canned broth.  Water is a miracle.

Last time I was doing a recipe for a book with one of the most lauded chefs in the country—he said to the recipe developer/writer, yes, ok to use canned if you don’t have fresh.  I said, “Really?”  He said, “yes.”  I said, “When was the last time you used canned stock?”  When he didn’t respond, I said, “Have you tasted canned stock?”  He said he hadn’t that he could recall.

I repeat: your food will taste better and fresher if you use that wonderful and inexpensive fluid at the end of your tap rather than anything that you can buy in a can or a box.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I have to say, by the end of Thursday, tens of millions of households will have the most miraculous ingredients for stock right at hand–turkey bones that have been lovingly roasted.  And most of these households will have three more days of holiday to put them to use. That roasted turkey carcass, will make an extraordinary rich delicious poultry broth.  Far superior to chicken stock.  Infinitely versatile.  Health-giving!  Yea, verily, I say unto you!

Chop up that carcass or pull it apart so that it fits into your biggest pot.  Cover it with water, enough so it’s covered by an inch or so of water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Skim off anything that rises to the top that you wouldn’t want to eat if you saw it floating in a bowl of soup.  Then, this is important, stick the pot in your oven at about 180 degrees F (or as close to that as possible).  And forget about it for fours.  Or five.  Or six.  As long as it’s not bubbling you’re good. It should not be bubbling, but it should be too hot for you to hold your hand against for more than an instant.

An hour before you want to take it out of the oven, add a couple carrots and a couple big Spanish onions, cut up, and continue cooking in the oven for another hour (if you have celery, parsely, thyme, garlic, bay, peppercorns, these are good to add as well, esp the thyme).  Strain through a colander.  Then, and this is important in my opinion, strain it through a kitchen cloth, cheese cloth if you have it, or any kind of cloth (I use ones that i can wash and reuse because I’m a cheapskate and hate to keep buying cheese cloth).  Straining through cloth makes a huge difference (chinois won’t do it in my opinon).  Now it’s ready to use or chill it and take the fat that congeals off the top.  Great to try a consomme with.  Make a risotto.  Soup, bien sur.  And it freezes great.

Don’t toss those wonderful bones!


136 Wonderful responses to “Thanksgiving: THE best time to make stock”

  • Allie

    I’m making turkey stock right now. Last weekend I made chicken stock and froze some of it in the ice cube tray like JD. It’s my favorite kitchen trick.

  • jharp

    Thank you for the post. I’ve been experimenting making chicken stock as I’ve always suspected the canned stuff is garbage.

    I am taking your post as confirmation that I have been right all along.

    And I like to know the recipe for the turkey stock and lentil soup.

  • Choosy Beggar Tina

    I am so excited to make your stock tonight. I’ve been waiting until I had turkey bones, and with Canadian Thanksgiving done I can finally get to it. Your method is so different from what I normally do (which, I’m sure, is a REALLY GOOD THING) that I can’t wait to try! Thank you.

  • Choosy Beggar Tina

    I am so excited to make your stock tonight. I’ve been waiting until I had turkey bones, and with Canadian Thanksgiving done I can finally get to it. Your method is so different from what I normally do (which, I’m sure, is a REALLY GOOD THING) that I can’t wait to try! Thank you.

  • Mrs. U

    Hi Mr. Ruhlman!
    I just discovered your blog and LOVE all that I am reading. I really appreciate you sharing this about using water instead of the canned broth. I am definitely going to incorporate that into some recipes and see the difference.

    We were at my in-laws this year for Thanksgiving, so I had no turkey bones. But I did recently make fresh chicken stock. YUM!

    I can’t wait to learn more!

    Mrs. U

  • Roger Cowles

    Hi Michael,

    Many thanks for the “Water better than store bought stock/broth” blog article. My wife has allergies to Onion/Garlic/Pepper, all of which I include when making my own stock so I was about to use Whole Foods “Organic Beefy-like Broth” in a Beef/barley stew thing I was making, even though one of its ingredients is garlic powder.

    Upon reading your article I instead went with 4 cups of plain old tap water, using some to deglaze the cast iron skillet I’d browned my chuck steak chunks and the rest going into the dutch oven and was rewarded with a fantastically tasty stew, plenty of beefy flavour from the fond (??? Computer programmer by trade so the terminology may be off) and lots of gelatin from the slow cooking of the chewy chuck steak. The missus loved it and I haven’t had to deal with any “Your trying to poison me!” comments when she finds out I’ve used an ingredient from the “banned list” :)

    Cheap too as the only ingredients were

    3lb Chuck Steak at some really low price/lb from supermarket, cubed, defatted (mostly) and then heavily browned
    3 Red bliss potatoes, cubed
    hand full of small carrots, chopped
    couple of sticks of celery, chopped
    Bay Leaf
    1/2 cup pearl barley
    4 cups (or so) of water
    3 or so hours in a low, 250/275, oven.

    Again, thanks for the impassioned plea to give water a chance, I did and was very happy with the result !


  • Scott

    Thanksgiving is the best time to make stock and then use the stock to make Leftover Turkey Gumbo.

  • Jim

    Ruhlman wrote: “DO NOT use canned stock/broth. Use WATER instead. I repeat. You DO NOT NEED to buy that crappy can of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth! It will HURT your food.”

    This reminds me of what Anthony Bordain had to say about garlic presses in his book _Kitchen Confidential_. I quote: “The crap that comes out of the end of a garlic press? That’s not garlic.”

    Of course it’s garlic. Specifically, it’s crushed and well-pulverized which lead it to be hotter than minced garlic. In fact, many people prefer a stronger flavor in many dishes so, for those tasters, a garlic press is a much more effective use of a cook’s time than producing the same results with a chef’s knife. So why do I think Bourdain was so dismissive of garlic presses? Simple. Mincing garlic takes fine, precise knife work which necessitates lots of practice. It must annoy experienced chefs for a novice and clumsy home cook to spit some macerated garlic out of a garlic press and produce results as good as what his years of hard-earned experience and subtle finesse can produce. In other words, it’s just plain old chef snobbery.

    And I think that’s what’s driving Ruhlman to claim that using water is superior to *any* canned or boxed chicken broth. I think that’s a retarded statement to make. If you make two identical batches of vichyssoise, the only difference being that one was made with water and the other made with a good quality chicken broth, does anyone here honestly think that the one made with water will have more flavor?

    The only way that using boxed chicken broth could “hurt” the food is if you were comparing the final product made with boxed chicken broth with a final product made with real chicken stock. There is clearly no comparison between boxed chicken broth and homemade chicken stock, particularly since the latter has all that wonderful, unctuous gelatin. But it certainly must chafe a seasoned and experienced chef to see a clumsy home cook pop open a box of Swanson’s and say, “This tastes fine”, particularly after said chef has spend hundreds if not thousands of hours making untold gallons of real chicken stock. It just diminishes the quality and importance of all that hard labor, doesn’t it? I’m sure said chef would much rather sentence a home cook to flavorless water than watch them actually enjoy something so common and so cheap.

    An itchy pox on all snobbery, chef or otherwise.

    And yes, I’ve made my own chicken and beef stock for years. I also use boxed broth when I don’t have the real stuff, but I vastly prefer to have the real stuff because it’s so much better. Thank you for the charge, Michael, we all should make more stock. But as for the snobbery — ditch that BS!

  • guy

    Michael…thanks from me too. I’ve always made my own stock, amateurishly perhaps, and this method was quite easy to do. Half of the end result went into a nice cream of turkey soup that used other Thanksgiving leftovers quite nicely.

    My sons, ages 9 and 11, really like soup (and will even eat greens like kale and spinach that way), and I take part of the credit because I make stock. The difference over canned broth, or even canned soup, is amazing.

    The only real trouble I’ve ever had making stock has been with roasting bones (chicken bones, for example, to make a rich chicken stock) that have bits of meat and fat leftover. I’m finding they tend to burn, or at least smoke heavily, on me…I’m suspecting a problem in technique. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to avoid it? Thanks…

  • guy

    Michael…thanks from me too. I’ve always made my own stock, amateurishly perhaps, and this method was quite easy to do. Half of the end result went into a nice cream of turkey soup that used other Thanksgiving leftovers quite nicely.

    My sons, ages 9 and 11, really like soup (and will even eat greens like kale and spinach that way), and I take part of the credit because I make stock. The difference over canned broth, or even canned soup, is amazing.

    The only real trouble I’ve ever had making stock has been with roasting bones (chicken bones, for example, to make a rich chicken stock) that have bits of meat and fat leftover. I’m finding they tend to burn, or at least smoke heavily, on me…I’m suspecting a problem in technique. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to avoid it? Thanks…

  • carri

    Ok, I just had a great stock/soup moment that I must share…My kids are performing in a local production of the Nutcracker (this is the 19th year our little town has done this!) which involves many nights at the local high school audtitorium rehearsing with 100 people or more…there are 70 kids in the show! I am the organizer of the food served backstage (in a hallway) to keep these folks all going strong and today it was my turn to contribute a hot dish to the food table. I roasted a couple of chickens which I cut up and served, carcasses and all, in a large electric roaster pan. When the majority of the meat was gone I added water to the pan and set the temp for 250. By the second act I was cutting up leftover carrots and celery from yesterdays snack trays and by the end of the show the tech people were enjoying chiken soup…made right there in the hallway on a folding table!

  • Gina

    Well, I made turkey risotto with some of it and it was darn tasty. I had done a veal stock the week before and didn’t get the gelatinized (? is that a real word) version so the turkey jello was a bit of a shock! Thanks for the words of encouragement…

  • ErikaK

    I just want to say how much I appreciated this “method” to make stock. It was my first time making stock, we had a huge turkey and I now have more than a gallon of stock. Straining the 2nd time through the cloth made it wonderfully clear, I never would have thought of that. There was barely any fat on it after it cooled, I popped all but one quart in the freezer. Now I don’t have to buy “better than bullion” any more!

  • Chris

    Gina: I left it on said burner all night and then strained it in the morning, ice bath, and then into the fridge until the next AM. What I arrived to was basically turkey stock jell-0.

    Gina, sounds like you did it right. That’s what you want.

    I tried the oven technique with the turkey carcass, and it turned out great. I found it easier than on the burner.

  • chris neill


    I can’t agree more. Ever since reading “Making of…” in 2000, I have become a fanatical stock maker. Needless to say, I left my mom with many quarts of 36+ hour super reduced turkey “consomme”.. I didn’t do the dime test, but after three passes through cheese-cloth, I think I nailed it. Anyway, thank you (and Chef Pardus) for the tips, and my mom thanks you too.

  • cybercita

    canned stock tastes poisonous to me. it reminds me of the smell of cafeteria in the basement of my grammar school. nuff said.

  • jaye joseph

    The smoked turkey stock turned out wonderful! I was concerned that it would be just like water with smoke, but it was nice and rich with just a hint of smokiness to it. I got about 5 qts of stock out of it, so I think that it would have been a little better had I reduced what I’d strained, but I was impatient.

    I made an awesome turkey gumbo from some of it, and now have a nice “stock” pile in the freezer.

    Now I have to go hit myself for that pun.

  • Gina

    I ended up putting mine on the burner too instead of the oven. I’m lucky enough that one burner is so low it is (supposed to be) a “true melt” – i.e. one could melt chocolate without the benefit of a double boiler. I doubt it but it does get pretty darn low.

    I left it on said burner all night and then strained it in the morning, ice bath, and then into the fridge until the next AM. What I arrived to was basically turkey stock jell-0. So I know my stock has major body and had great clarity – but did I take it too far? It turns into liquid when heated.

  • Maura

    I’ve been using canned chicken broth, when I need some liquid in small amounts,and have always been happy with it. But nothing beats homemade stock, whether it’s chicken, turkey, vegetable or shrimp stock.

    RE: Lousy tap water. We have horrible tap water (sometimes you can smell the chlorine). I regularly fill four half gallon glass bottles with tap water and let it aerate for 8 hours. I do this at night and usually have enough water for the day. I use this for almost everything I make.

    I was going to make stock anyway, so I used this technique. It’s in the refrigerator now. I’ll skim the fat off this afternoon. Stock for months!

  • Leland

    I wish I had read this before I made my turkey stock on Friday, but I think it turned out ok. I chopped up the bones, added some vegetables and herbs, and simmered it all on the stove, adding water when it got too thin, for about five hours. I strained it, passed it through coffee filters, and froze it in pint containers. On Saturday I used some stock and shredded leftover turkey to make turkey risotto. It was delicious, although I’ve had enough of the taste and smell of turkey!

  • Wilmita

    Well… thanks to you Michael Ruhlman, I now have enough stock in my freezer and refrigerator I could float a schooner if need be.

    THAT was one BIG carcass!!.

    I am certain to get many uses from it and I thank you. (I think)

    Red Beans and Ricely Yours,


  • tinarina

    Regarding stock with a smoked bird–good friends who are good cooks did this a few years ago and it was AWFUL–like a pot of watery liquid smoke. No harm in trying it as it costs virtually nothing, but it will be interesting to hear if you end up with something useful.

  • JR Prospal

    Michael, I followed your advice and just finished reducing a turkey stock that I made yesterday. Six hours at a low simmer, skimming about every half hour and then straining twice through a tea towel yielded a beautiful aromatic stock in which I can see all the way through. Today I reduced it by a third and off to the freezer it’s going. Thanks much.

    BTW: After seeing you last Saturday in Cleveland Heights I flew out to San Fran for work and had the fortunate opportunity to eat at Incanto and meet Chef Cosentino. Wonderful guy.

  • ModernMaven

    I ended up doing mine on the stove because 180 in the oven just wasnt cutting it. I got quite a bit of stock out of my carcass, and it tastes fabulous. My huband and I were amazed how lean it was…not much fat came up when we fridged it. We ended up getting four almost full quart bags out of it. They are in the freezer now.

    As far as this being a snobby foodie thing to do, um, my grandparents and great grandparents used to do this. You wasted no part of any meat and everything was eaten when people were poor and had huge families to feed. To call this snobby, is, well, laughable. It’s a modern, wasteful thing for people to buy stock at the grocery store. Most people used to make their own. To me, this is a return to that time where you dont waste things and try to spend less.

  • Goomba

    Cooks Illustrated rated the All Clad Stainless 2 qt stock pot “highly recommended” but pricy. The next “recommended” and much more reasonably priced Cuisinart Chefs Classic Stainless was a fraction of the cost.

    Did you put your oven rack down to the lowest level? Don’t forget that the oven stock recipe calls for the pot to be lidless so it gives you more room for the pot alone.

  • ltpinto

    So I was able to acquire 3 carcasses. The stock of all three birds has been simmering (190 degrees) in the oven for five, maybe six hours. Fine recipe and thanks for a great way to spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

  • Michelle

    I just had one more question for Ruhlman, exactly what kind of pot does he use for making this stock inside the oven? My tall stock pot won’t fit inside my oven. I was thinking about buying a big Le Crueset for this, a good excuse to spend some big bucks on a fancy French pan, but I don’t know. Hope Rulhamn can answer before I go shopping.

  • Gregorio

    Greetings Ruhlman,

    I just pulled the best stock I have EVER made out of the oven. Thank you so much for this tip. It’s the freshest, cleanest, best tasting stock I think I’ve ever made.

    *sigh* So many choices to go from here… so little time.

    Even better? A friend of mine just dropped off a bagged and frozen turkey carcass from her Thanksgiving. Guess someone was listening to me when I brought this article up?! SWEET!

    ~ G

    PS -> did I say Thanks? yeah…

  • kanani

    kayenne, that sounds really good!

    I can’t figure out how the “stock” mystery started. I’ve explained to more than one person how to make a good chicken stock. It’s so easy, and if you’re watching your salt intake, it’s crucial to get rid of as many processed foods in your diet.

    I usually make stock whenever I have left over chicken. I toss it & some vegetables into the pot of water and let it simmer for a few hours. Anyway, after it’s strained and cooled, I freeze it in small batches to use in cooking. I have even used the carcass of a Costco chicken to make stock with, when I my old cat when through a phase when that’s all she’d eat ….long story. (Look for it in my blog).

  • Shannon

    I’m making turkey stock in the oven as I write this. I used to boil chicken/turkey carcasses to death on the stove for a few hours.

    I never knew about the oven technique. I’m excited to taste how it turns out. It seems it would make for a richer stock, right?

    BTW, I just returned from France a week ago and had foie gras for the first time in Paris. I thought it was pretty tasty.

  • Goomba

    Today I made turkey stock using the oven for the first time ever. I gotta “testify!” to the amazingly clear stock I’ve now got compared to the delicious but often cloudy stocks I’ve made in the past. And it couldn’t have been easier! Neat method and one I’ll use again.
    Do you use the oven for all your stocks, Michael?

  • kayenne

    all this talk of oven stocks and long hours reminded me of the rising cost of gas/electricity. cheaper alternative here in manila, we use the inexpensive charcoal. a 3-lb bag costs roughly $.75 here in manila.

    what we usually do here is simmer the bones over hot coals – fire up a charcoal grill and set the covered pot on top. we usually do this for beef bones with marrow. after a few hours, we get a milky, velvety broth for dinner. the charcoal cooking lends a smoky, rich flavor. YUMMY!

    plus, any residual heat left is used for grilling veggies.

  • Stock Newbie

    When do you add salt to the stock? Mine (second batch I’ve ever made) is chilling in the fridge, and it tastes kind of bland. Was I supposed to salt it long ago? Can it be saved? Any guidelines on how to add salt, such as 1/2 tsp. at a time? Thanks.

  • Stock Newbie

    When do you add salt to the stock? Mine (second batch I’ve ever made) is chilling in the fridge, and it tastes kind of bland. Was I supposed to salt it long ago? Can it be saved? Any guidelines on how to add salt, such as 1/2 tsp. at a time? Thanks.

  • evil chef mom

    I just finished my stock. It tastes great and the house smells wonderful. My kids thought I was crazy when I started skimming the stock this afternoon but by the end they were helping me chop the onions,celery, and carrots. Who knew making stock would make the whole family come together?

  • Michelle

    I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one out there with a smoked bird this year. That smokey/chipotle sounds great. My favorite flavors! I’ll have to try that one! Let me know if you come across a good recipe, Jaye.

  • Jerm

    Thanks for the post, and the blog. Been thinking about this post a lot over the last few days. We didn’t get to roast our own turkey this year (cry), maybe I should go see if there are any on sale today… Anyway, just wanted to stress that while water may be better, it has to be drinkable. I had a risotto a few months back that someone made with local water, and the slightly brackish quality of the the water when undiluted became a retch inducing mess when concentrated.

  • JD

    Tom – Just remember that whatever goes into the stock pot will be present in the final product. If you leave the lemons in I think that your stock will have a fairly narrow band of possible uses.

    My pots are in the oven now, though, and it’s starting to smell delicious…

  • Tom

    Here’s a question for anyone who wants to answer from someone inexperienced at making stock. I cooked my turkey stuffed with herbs, lemon and garlic. When I put the carcass in water to make the stock, should I take all of those out?

  • jaye joseph

    I’ve also got a smoked bird from this year. I’m about to give smoked turkey stock a shot using Ruhlman’s method. I was thinking that a smokey-chipolte type soup would be great with this. Now I’m not so sure about using any of the skin. Of course, I think the only skin is on the wings so stripping it shouldn’t be too tough.

  • Melody

    See, now, I’d think that one wouldn’t want to include the skin from a smoked bird in a stock pot? My high-heat bird from two years ago filled the house with smoke and was fabulous on it’s own, but the gravy made from the drippings sucked, tasted like that noxious liquid smoke crap.

    It always amazes me when I hear the opinion that only pro chefs and foodies make their own stock. It’s easier than making a good hard-boiled egg, fer cryin’ out loud. I, my family and just about all of my friends have always made it, and we’re just normal midwesterners – hotdish people. What a world.

  • Melody

    See, now, I’d think that one wouldn’t want to include the skin from a smoked bird in a stock pot? My high-heat bird from two years ago filled the house with smoke and was fabulous on it’s own, but the gravy made from the drippings sucked, tasted like that noxious liquid smoke crap.

    It always amazes me when I hear the opinion that only pro chefs and foodies make their own stock. It’s easier than making a good hard-boiled egg, fer cryin’ out loud. I, my family and just about all of my friends have always made it, and we’re just normal midwesterners – hotdish people. What a world.

  • Skawt


    Leave those bits of meat and fat on. Those will add flavor to the stock. You can then cool the stock in the fridge after you strain it, and then scrape off the solidified fat that rises to the top.

  • Michelle

    I’ve got a really stupid question: this year we had a really wonderful smoked turkey (and I assume this will make good stock) but my question pertains to the actual carcass itself and what is still attached, are you supposed to clean the bones entirely, or is it okay to leave little bits of meat and fat still attached? And also there is a large amount of smoky skin, which seems dreadful to waist, do I add it to the stock too?

  • mlinkin

    I couldn’t agree with this topic more! My teenage daughter wanted to help plan the menu for Thanksgiving this year and just being the three of us, she said let’s just do a roast chicken (not that she likes or would even eat it). Almost before she got those words out of her mouth she screamed – “NO, wait, without a turkey there won’t be any turkey stock for me.”

    This kid doesn’t eat turkey for the most part but she would eat the whole pot of turkey stock if I didn’t stop her – she starts on it just a couple of hours in before it is even really stock. She’s been eating the stock all day and when she went to leave to go to a friend’s house to spend the night, I had to stop her from taking a thermos of it with her.

    I made one pot with the extra necks I picked up last night and some turkey drumsticks I had gotten last month for less than 3/$2 that I simply roasted with salt & pepper then removed the meat and added to the pot.

    Second pot of stock from the actual turkey is on now. I save everything to make all kinds of stocks but turkey stock is PURE GOLD as we call it around our house. Not to mention how wonderful it makes the house smell.

  • Keri

    DJK – I have used the Souper Market veal stock quite often. I like it a lot and usually have a half gallon or so in my freezer. Great shortcut. I make my own chicken stock regularly, but almost never have stuff for the veal stock.

    I haven’t tried the vegetable yet, but might on my next trip. FYI … the stock is also sold frozen at Heinens sometimes.

  • Frances Davey

    My opinion is that there is a lifestyle that fascilitates making stock. If you don’t roast stuff (we roast a chicken once or twice a week), you don’t have a leftover carcass to deal with. If you don’t have a leftover carcass or bones to deal with, you have to get some bones and roast them for the sole purpose of making stock. To me, that isn’t the point. It’s the using of everything that is particularly gratifying. And not for an inferior result (which some consider “leftovers” to be inferior or even useless), but a vastly superior one when compared to store-bought stocks.

    If you roast stuff AND use stock, to me it is common sense, not snobbery, to use the roasted bones to make stock. If you don’t have a lifestyle that lends itself to the process, you may be perfectly (and understandably) satisfied with store-bought stock. In our house, we like the idea of doing as much as we can on our own. It just seems like the sensible thing to do.

  • Knorr the Swiss

    You know Micheal, you seem like a nice guy, but I think you are getting a touch food snobby on us when you state “water is better than canned stock”. Are you nuts ? Are your tastebuds going mushy ? Or, are you now the “go to” guy when it comes to gravy making.

    I see your point about using cans or mixes. Not everyone has 4 hours or more to roast bones and make stock. Sometimes a can or packet will have to do. Don’t make it a federal crime to not make your own. Loose the snobbiness . I ‘ll bet you have a can or two lying around.

  • ruhlman

    knorr, you misunderstand. with regard to canned broth, I’m not saying make your own stock instead, i’m saying use water instead. i know everyone doesn’t have the time or inclination to make stock. What bothers me is the knne-jerk reaction to add badly flavored processed food to what could otherwise be a fine stock or soup.

    And yes, sometimes you do have to add a half onion and carrot to the pot to boost the flavor.

  • DJK

    Michael, for those of us in Cleveland, would you recommend the stock sold at The Souper Market? If their stock is as good as their soup, I’d think that might be a more practical option.

  • Katie

    Thanks to those who replied about the freezing of the bones for stock purposes…I’m a good cook, but still a little ‘green’ when it comes to a lot of things…that said, I’ve got some great frozen bones in my freezer at this moment.

    Meanwhile, can we all groan for a moment about waking up far too early on Thanksgiving morning for cooking purposes. Ew. Why can’t dinner be at dinner time on this day…why must it be in the afternoon?! (end of rant…I just wanted to sleep in).

  • CammackTheCook

    I will be saving a fried turkey carcass AND a roasted turkey carcass to make two stocks. Any guesses on how they will differ? I will prepare them identically and let you all know-

  • Skawt


    Yes, the 12-lb bird I was referring to was a turkey. I normally stuff it with a mirepoix of celery, onion and carrot, along with a dry rub as well as a compound butter under the breast skin. With all of the aromatics and seasoning in there, the only thing I need to do for stock is simply quarter it and dump it into a stock pot with water, simmer, skim off the gunk; then I bring it to room temp, put it in the fridge until the schmaltz (rendered fat) rises to the top (and save it for matzoh balls), then bag the rest and freeze it.

    Michael Symon has an interesting take on roasting a bird similar to mine, except that he cooks his mirepoix before stuffing it into the bird. So I’m considering something similar, and using fennel and leeks instead of celery. Should be interesting, although I don’t know when I will next have occasion to be cooking a big bird.

  • Skawt


    Every time you roast a chicken, save the bones. Even the ones that have been gnawed on. Rinse them in wanter, put them in a ziplock bag, and freeze them until you’re ready to use them.

    Quick tip: chicken wings have an amazing amount of gelatin. Making stock from a bag full of saved wingtips make an excellent, glutinous stock. Since lux and I will make wings every couple of weeks, every few months we have a large supply available.

  • Claudia


    You’re so right. Aside from D’Artagnan, Citeralla’s stocks and demis are fabulous and great, if you really can’t get the old stockpot out that week.

  • allie

    personally, I find swanson a little pricey unless it’s on sale, I usually go for the generic brand :)

    unfortunately, cooking for two doesn’t generally involve a lot of carcasses, and at present I have neither the time nor the freezer space for such an undertaking. perhaps someday…

  • Dana

    Okay, if you say tap water is better than any of the store-bought broth/stock out there, I trust you, and next time I will (deep breaths) use that instead. Don’t you need to add something, though, to make up for the lack of salt/seasoning??

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    For the Stockologists in the house — both “made” and in the process of being made:

    Of course, my stocks in class always tasted far better than my classmates’. No one could figure out how I coaxed such heaty flavor out of a few chicken bones, or made such wonderful fish fumet with fish racks and shrimp shells, all in the limited time available. Had my instructors given me a pat-down before class they might have learned my secret: two glassine envelopes of Minor’s chicken and lobster base inside my chef’s coat, for that little extra kick. They never figured it out (Bourdain, p. 38, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly).

  • Adele

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Okay, I admit to having a spatial reasoning problem, but I keep looking at my largest pot, looking at my oven and trying to figure out how I’d fit it in. Even if I take out one oven rack and put the other on the lowest rung, it’s an incredibly tight fit, and my next largest pot doesn’t seem big enough. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • Jennie/Tikka

    You know, for those of you fortunate enough to live within driving distance to a Bristol Farms – they do sell veal-duck demi-glace frozen in 8oz. quantities. Comes in SERIOUSLY handy! The brand is a recognizable one we all love: D’Artagnan. They also sell rendered duck fat, which I’ll be using liberally this Thursday!

  • Jeff

    I just don’t believe that that water is better than canned or boxed stock (I use the Campbells Organic chicken stock which I think tastes ok), but I will try it just to make sure.

    What I tend to try and do since I am lazy is go to the Soup and Stock Market at the Milwaukee Public Market and buy stock from them and freeze it for later use. The quality is great and it doesn’t require any effort on my part.

    One of these days I will try to make my own.

  • veron

    Okay, michael, I’ll give good ole’ tap water a try again. I’m really curious about your stock chapter in the elements of cooking. Oh god, I’ve got a whole list of cookbooks waiting on my amazon wishlist and I think I’m going to need a new book case…

  • mirinblue

    I often freeze bones from chickens, hams, turkeys, beef and save shrimp shells, lobster shells and other bits of ephemera to use in my stocks. While I try to use the bird carcasses fairly soon (couple of months) I have kept a ham bone for about 6 months! And a damn fine ham stock was the result!

    Bob delGrosso-thanks for the advice about the innards, I will cut the liver in half and saute the other half to chop into the dressing or gravy. We fight over the bits if you can believe it! Odd, but true!

    Michael-as we are addressing water as an ingredient in and of itself, can you give thoughts about the quality of the water? Many public sources are chemical laden and often well water can contain iron, sulfur, methane and more. Do you use filtered water only?

    To everyone here-Happy Thanksgiving and (stock making) to you and your loved ones.

  • artnlit

    As someone who is a complete newbie in this area, I am pleased to say that I learn a great deal here, even if some of it is a bit over my head. Thanks Michael, for also explaining that one can use water – seriously. Oh and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and all here. Cheers, Bonnie (artnlit)

  • Claudia

    Michelle, congratulations on kicking your canned broth dependency – and for anyone else who’s managed to beat back the demons of, say, pre-peeled/sliced garlic, minced garlic in jars, etc., and those struggling to remember to prep their “meez” (mise en place). Bourdain and Ruhlman have made us better cooks. Happy TG, all.

  • Jen

    While I agree that many canned broths suck, there are some very decent organic free range broths out there (W. Foods carries) that are better than just adding flavorless water…

  • Marlene

    I often freeze bones and carcasses to make stock later. I have a vacumn sealer which is useful for longer freezes, but if you wrap everything well, then put into ziplock bags, you should be able to go a couple of weeks to a month before you have to make your stock. Currently in my freezer are chicken, pork, beef and veal stocks. I’ve a turkey carcass in there which has been frozen for a couple of weeks and which I will defrost and make stock with this week. I usually pick up extra turkey wings and thighs to add to the stock pot as well.

  • Katie

    How long can I freeze the bones before I make stock? I’ve made stock before, but I’m going to several Thanksgiving dinners this week (not all on the same day, otherwise, I’d explode) and I want to steal the carcass from all, just for stock purposes. But I’ve only made stock ‘fresh’ — can you freeze the bones? Is that a dumb question? Forgive me if it is. In my head, I would like to think one can freeze the bones for a few weeks, roast them, and then make stock…but maybe not. Help?

  • ruhlman

    i’m so happy reading people talking about stock. and from leftovers. it’s a satisfying yield. a 2-3 pound roasted chix carcass will give you a quart of stock. i love that. a 12 pound turkey? a gallon. i remember turgoen saying to our class, after he made turkey consomme, “I’m never going back to chicken again.”

    –about roasting mirepoix, great for brown stocks, excellent, and they require 30-60 minutes to flavor stock.

    –veron, and if you haven’t been to veron’s excellent blog, pls click her link, i must say respectfully: no, it isn’t better.

    –yolanda! do it with the garlic! and onion! and carrot! and herbs! i asked my wife to pick up some extra necks and wings at the store today to do EXACTLY what you did today.

  • NRF

    I purchase organic, free range chicken parts from a butcher shop that sells only “ethically farmed” meats and poultry.

    Starting with about 15 pounds of meat and bones in two large stockpots, I heat slowly to simmer. When the water begins to circulate, I skim the muck then add aromatics and leave on low heat for some hours. Larger solids are strained out then the liquid is slowly poured through a fine sieve lined with small squares of cheese cloth. The filtering material is changed frequently.

    If high heat has been avoided, the resultant stock is reasonably clear. It goes into the refrigerator overnight to settle sediment and congeal fat. The stock is frozen in 500 ml containers that are thawed in the microwave whenever needed.

    I use this excellent stock in most every gravy, pan sauce or soup. Made in fairly large quantity, each batch lasts many weeks. I don’t find doing this inconvenient because one doesn’t have to pay much time or attention.

    There are two important factors. Don’t use Republican chicken – find tasty free range poultry. Secondly, keep the heat very low. I like the idea of using the oven as suggested in the article above.

  • Skawt


    Thanks for confirming something that lux and I have been doing for the last 7 years – we take our picked-over carcass with roasted mirepoix in the cavity, quarter it, and then simmer it for a while. And we then do what Maggie suggested, which is to put 2 cups of stock into ziplock bags and freeze them. One 12lb bird is enough for a gallon of stock. Yay!

    Also, Bourdain made me do it. He’s evil, I tells ya!

  • nondiregol

    Kay, I do hate my family. But I’m not going to poison them all on the same day—although my brother Fester has attempted it with some of his turkey experiments.

    I’ll go after them one by one; “try this partially opened moule si vous plais.” Or the famous “vongole degli morti.”

  • David Dadekian

    Mr. Ruhlman, thanks! Why in 10+ years of learning about cooking have I never read or heard that about aromats and cooking time? Always still learning! I love the pot in the oven idea, however, I usually do a couple of chickens at a time and bought a 16 qt. pot specifically for making lots of stock. I don’t know that I can get that pot in my oven (or if it would bow an oven rack or break my back). If it makes that much of a difference I could go back to smaller pots, if you advise it. Thanks again.

  • Kevin

    Good advice, as always. I just got scolded by a serious chef for not keeping more bones from a recent calf moose that entered my kitchen.

  • Gailsie

    Wow, timely topic.
    My husband decided he was making stock from the bones this year and has, in fact, deconstructed one turkey already. All day yesterday the house smelled yummy, my husband was purring away at the stove, all cares far, far away.
    I anticipate that our gravy will be fabulous. Not to mention all the other things we can make from the stock.

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @Bob delGrosso:

    “BTW, Why for goodness sake, is it a mistake to add garlic, onion, carrot and herbs to stock? Somebody?”

    Too effing funny, Bob — and a great question, too! :)

    IMO, and I don’t follow rules when it comes to cooking (I think rules, for the most part, and if and only if for the better, were born to be broken). And I hail from a culture whose previous generation (the one before my own), didn’t have the luxuries that many of us here would appear to have: namely, time, money and variety to indulge Stockology, if you will.

    To make a long story short, they — and I (and I do have the resources, but not the time, since busy is as busy does, and all the rest of that sh*t ;-) use garlic, onion, carrot and herbs in stock, and find nothing wrong with doing so.

    The first syllable of Ruhlman’s name, should have been a red flag of a clue, as to what his literary future would spell for him :) And to his credit, his rules for stock would appear to be the equivalent of Pepin’s La technique, except they are for stock etc.

    And, again, with all due respect, indigenous cultures don’t have time for these rules when it comes to cooking. But, they have heart, honesty and a homage that is paid, whenever a native dish is made. That’s where I’m from, and that of which I am proud.

    It’s all contextual, but, rules are made to be broken, so break some other’s and make some of your own in the process (to be broken by someone else, of course!)


  • Kay

    But what if you hate your family? Wouldn’t a coupla bouillon cubes and some Mrs. Dash be more appropriate for them?

  • Hank

    Thanks, Maggie! That might work. I will have to carefully label them, as I am psychotic and have stocks made from rabbits, chickens, deer, wild boar, etc, etc. You get the picture.

    Still wondering if anyone pressure cans…

  • Phil

    Awesome post, Michael.

    Nothing says “The day after Thanksgiving” in my house like the smell of turkey stock simmering most of the day. Perhaps the best soups I’ve ever made have that as my base.

  • Maggie


    You can freeze stock in zip-type bags. I freeze surplus stock in quart size bags with excellent results. Here is the method that I use. Pour finished stock into a 2 quart Pyrex-type bowl ( or any container) with a spout. Next, open a quart size freezer bag, and place the bag in a 4 cup size glass measuring cup. Pour 2 cups stock into bag and gently press out the air. Seal the bag and lay it flat on a baking sheet. Make sure you use a baking sheet with sides in case of a leak! Place in freezer…when they are frozen solid, you can stack them like bricks! I have a tiny freezer and this method saves a lot of space. Also…I’ve never had a bag leak…but if the bags are moved roughly about the freezer it could cause a puncture. This wouldn’t be a problem until you took it out to thaw. I thaw the bags in a shallow dish, just in case. Hope this is useful.

  • Michelle

    Well, Ruhlman, it was tough, it was difficult to hear, but someone had to tell the cold, hard truth and I for one must thank you for having the carcass to do it. I must admit, I feel like a common criminal, for back in the deep, dark portals of my disarranged cupboard lies a box of “you guessed it” stock. In honor of you, Ruhlman, I hearby promise to banish the use of all contraband chicken flavored liquid and forever pledge my undying love and allegiance to the venerable and honorable homemade stock.

  • Sandy

    Gawd, Ruhlman, you had to do it didn’t you. My husband stole the kitchen for most of the weekend so my broth didnt get made.

    Looks like Thanksgiving production just got moved forward a day. Thanks a LOT. Why I started hanging out here, I’ll never know.

    Sandy, heading off to torture that chicken carcass while cussing Ruhlman because its convenient.

  • palmsey

    I think Yolanda just meant that according to Ruhlman she shouldn’t have added them yet.

  • redman

    I’ve found that the week before turkey day is also a great time to make stock- turkeys are cheap in the store, and if you make a dark turkey stock with an extra carcass you have great brown turkey stock to use for your gravy on the day of the meal instead of using canned stuff or making an ad hoc stock the day of the with neck.

    you can roast the breasts of the first bird for extra white meat- always welcome leftovers- and save the extra thighs in freezer for some other use

  • Bob delGrosso


    There is one piece of advice that I give that will never change: cook it yourself and when you can’t, don’t worry about it.

    BTW, Why for goodness sake, is it a mistake to add garlic, onion, carrot and herbs to stock? Somebody?

  • veron

    Don’t shoot me , but I do use swanson’s occasionally when I do run out of homemade stock. It’s still better than plain water, I think. Besides , didn’t Cook Illustrated rank it pretty highly a couple of years ago.

  • Mahala

    I’ve been using the oven to cook many things that I’d normally simmer on the stove top. They can safely cook unattended while I’m doing my afternoon running with kids. It’s only logical that stock would do well, too. I can’t wait to try it.

  • Hank

    Mirinblue – I use giblets sometimes (when I don’t use them for other things) and they add flavor. Livers will put off a scum at the beginning though, because of the blood in them. Just skim it. DEFINITELY put the neck in there — that’s what it’s for!

    But, alas, turkey stock is VERY strong. You will know it is turkey no matter what you put this stock into. And turkey, IMHO, is a prima donna of the poultry world in that it does not play well with other meat flavors. I end up using it for risotto (or, better yet, farro!) served with turkey meat in some fashion OR as the only “meat” dish on the plate.

    Bob, Michael? Have you (or anyone else out here) ever pressure-canned stock? I freeze mine in quart Mason jars, but it is bulky and they sometimes crack from expansion, even when I leave more than an inch of headspace. This, of course, is a major bummer. Thoughts? Suggestions?

  • Mark in St Louis

    Someone may have touched on this already, but would you roast your mirepoix for a white turkey stock? If so, would you still add them with an hour to go, or should it be less?


  • truenorthern

    Making stock in the oven technique is intriguing but I don’t understand the rationale of such a slow process. Clarity? Maximum extraction? I don’t like to tie up my one oven so, if I need to reduce heat to less than 200F on my electric burners, I use a wok ring smaller than the base of the pot that I’m using. It gets the base far enough away.

    I also break down the carcass with a cleaver. The greater surface to volume ratio gives me less but a more concentrated stock. I can always dilute it, should that be required. Space is at a premium in my kitchen so I tend to reduce any stock I will not be using immediately down to glace de viande. Pour it into ice cube trays, freeeze it, break out the cubes and store them in freezer bags in the freezer until required.

    A word of caution too. Too slow a process will allow the growth of bacteria, some of which you really, really don’t want. Keep any food product greater than 140F or less than 40F.

  • ktdid747

    Can’t wait to try this! (thanks!)… My Thanksgiving tradition has always been to take the carcass(es) and make the broth (I can’t stand canned chicken broth and always go homemade so I agree with you there ;P) but I’ve never gone the oven route to make it.

    I usually make soup and then, the rest, I freeze in ice cube trays to use when I need them (which works GREAT, by the way) ;)

  • Yolanda

    Wow. I must be a pretty awful cook, because I find that my dishes do taste better when I use Kitchen Basics or Trade Joe stocks. In spite of that, I have stock cooking on the stove at this minute, made from roasted turkey wings. But apparently the carrot, onion, garlic, and herbs I’ve placed in there were a mistake.

    Following the advice of cooking professionals can be much like reading parenting books: the advice changes constantly, frequently conflicts, and always leaves you feeling inadequate.