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The way to ensure abundant and delicious gravy on thanksgiving is to make a big batch of turkey stock today.  Roast a couple pounds of turkey wings, and any other inexpensive parts you may be able to gather, until they are  golden brown and good enough to eat.  Cover them with water and cook below a simmer for 6 hours or so uncovered or in a 180-200 degree oven.  For the last hour or two, add a large onion, 2 big carrots, two bay leaves, some peppercorns, thyme and parsley (if you have it on hand), and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.  Strain it through cloth and it's done.

To make gravy, you may want to fortify it with neck and giblets while the turkey cooks (or chop the giblets and saute them with some shallot to add to the gravy).  Save the fat rendered from the turkey and mix it with enough flour to form a thick paste, cooking this paste, or roux, to get rid of the raw flour flavor.  Use this roux to thick your turkey stock, adding more aromatics if you wish and any juices the turkey drops as it rests.

Here's last year's post on making turkey stock with your left over turkey carcass, whichis too abundant and too delicious to throw away.  (The pix here—thank you donna!— are  generic stock shots donna had on hand–abundant veg, called mirepoix, is essential to the flavor of stock.  At right is the temperature I cook a stock, 180 degrees, so that there's not even a simmer, but the pot is too hot to hold your hand to comfortably.)

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And because you may have abundant turkey stock, it's a great time to try making consomme—turkey consomme beats chicken any day.

Wishing all readers on this, one of the great and unifying American holidays we all share, a bountiful day with hopes that all have the opportunity to cook with one another and sit down at the table together to acknowledge a shared gratitude for what we have.

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44 Wonderful responses to “Thanksgiving: Stock and Gravy”

  • Guy Anderson

    Happy Turkey Day and happy cooking to the home chefs and it is almost over for us prochefs – then we will have to figure out – turkey soup – sandwich specials – and emplyee meals! Ha – Be safe everyone – Chef Guy

  • Russ

    Michael:

    Enjoy the time with your loved ones and thanks for bringing us all along on your food adventures !

  • guy (not chef guy)

    Last year I figured “why not?” and did the leftover carcass trick. The stock was incredible, and couldn’t be easier to make. Since then, I’ve done it with roasted chicken carcasses too.

    When talking about cooking with other people, especially those that lament not having enough time to cook, I frequently ask them if they have tried making their own stock. I usually get a no, so I describe Michael’s process, and suggest that a supply of real stock in the freezer is the way to go.

    Thanks, Michael!

  • JB in San Diego

    In Colicchio’s book “Think Like a Chef” he recommends boiling the bones for 2 minutes, then dumping out all the water (!) and refilling the stock pot and bringing it back to a boil. This removes all the scum-forming agents and no skimming necessary! But I’ve never tried the 180-degree trick, can’t wait to see how that works on Friday.

  • ruhlman

    bringing raw bones to a simmer first to get rid of the blood impurities is not a bad idea. i don’t think it’s necessary with poultry bones–skimming is fine. but with beef pork and veal it is a good idea. if you roast bones though, there is not need for the initial cleansing simmer.

  • Boonie

    copy edit:

    Might want to check your spelling of “parsely” Michael. Not trying to be a high school English teacher, but we expect more from a world class culinary author.

    Happy turkey day…

  • Sean Kelly

    Stock is “souper” easy to make in a crock pot. You can keep the temp right in the temperature range you want.
    Save chicken bones and cook up a batch whenever the collection in the freezer is large enough.
    Use a cleaver to crack open the bones to increase surface area of the bones.

    Some recipes call for spoonful of vinegar to dissolve a little calcium. I don’t notice any change in flavor when vinegar is added.

  • Sean Kelly

    Oh yeah, if any readers live in Seattle and are interested in veal stock, Don and Joe’s Meats at Pike Place (next to the annoying flying fish people) carry veal bones for $2.50/lb. Or you can go to Wholefoods and get them for $9.00 a pound.

  • CaptainK

    I made more chicken stock just last weekend, but I’ve never tried turkey stock. Now, if I could only convince my foodie son and daughter-in-law to let me take the carcass home tomorrow…

    Thanks for the inspiration and have a great Thanksgiving!

  • NancyH

    Michael – is there any reason why you wouldn’t include the neck and giblets in the stock making process? We did that with extra parts we got with our turkey last weekend (necks and giblets) and it made a delicious elixir, which became gravy the next day with the addition of pan drippings. Is this because “stock” is by definition made from bones, and “broth” from flesh?

    Oh – and another thing we learned this year – if you make stock (or whatever we made) the day before and have fat rendered from it – that fat, rubbed into the skin, makes an awesome lube for the bird.

  • FoodPuta

    Since this thanksgiving, I will be flying solo, I decided to just go with a Roasted chicken stuffed with Boudin sausage (wanted to make the Boudin myself, but WholeFoods doesn’t seem to want to lower themselves to carry pork liver, so I went with store bought), but using the Brine from Charcuterie.
    I have asked several co-workers to save their turkey carcass for me to make stock with though. I tried your method last year Michael, and ended up eating a couple bowls of it like a soup!

    Enjoy your holiday!

  • DJK

    Semi-related question:

    Does anyone have any insight on what distinguishes a good chinois from a bad one, for the purposes of stock, etc.? Is it simply a matter of getting what you pay for?

  • cherylk

    Rats! It’s 11:17pm and I’m just now reading this post. I’ll know for next year. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

  • Victoria

    Dear MR,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    This is the first year your father won’t be sitting at the table with you, but I know there will be a big toast for him. I will raise a glass to him when I drink to my own dad on this, the third Thanksgiving I am celebrating without him at my table.

    Thanks for this post. When it comes to stock, you are definitely the man!

  • Conway Yen

    DJK,

    As far as a chinois goes, it (unfortunately) really may come down to how much you pay. For straining stocks, sauces, purees, etc. you want a fine mesh. A fine mesh ensures that all the tiny bits and particles (bits of fat and coagulated blood in stock, fibers and cellulose from fruit and veg purees, etc.) get caught, especially if you’re trying to make a very clean, refined soup or sauce (carrot soup, for instance). In my experience (I prowl the aisles of every store that sells kitchen gadgets for fun. I lead a sad existence.), the “best,” finest-meshed chinois (what’s the plural form of “chinois”???) are found in high-end kitchen gear stores (Williams-Sonoma, for example). Other chinois that I have come across have mesh that isn’t nearly fine enough for my tastes, and some even had fairly large-sized holes rather than a mesh.
    But don’t worry. You have options. Unless you’re set on getting a chinois (which are pretty expensive), you can find fairly good metal strainers with a decently fine mesh that can substitute for a chinois. I bought a fairly good one at an asian grocery store for 9 bucks. It doesn’t work as quickly as a chinois, but I was willing to make that sacrifice.
    Alternatively, you can use any combination of layers of cheesecloth, a clean bandana or handkerchief ($1 or less at arts and crafts stores), or coffee filters to achieve the same or a similar effect. Obviously, just be sure to remove as many of the larger particles before attempting to strain through cloth or filter, since they can get clogged quickly, which kills your attempts at straining.
    Remember to never push the liquid through, to force it to strain faster. If you think about it, pushing (with a ladle, spoon, or spatula, etc) may force those particles through the mesh, which completely defeats the purpose of trying to strain your liquid in the first place. This is another reason why I didn’t buy the $70 chinois (too expensive for my poor ass) at Williams-Sonoma — it came with a wooden, cone-shaped . . . thing. The instructions on it said to push your liquid through with the wooden thing (it looked more like an awkward and painful sex toy more than anything), which is so obviously wrong to me (on many, many levels).
    Get a strainer or chinois of a sensible size. Make sure it is not too small, large enough for your purposes (which may not be apparent until you start using it), and not so large as to be cumbersome and awkward (a chinois is too large and awkward for my small and awkward kitchen).
    Finally, buy what makes sense to you. Buy what is most useful first and decide whether or not it is worth the extra expense on a higher-end, finer item. This applies for every item in your kitchen. For me, this means a $15 non-stick skillet (mostly for eggs. I’ve had it for 3 years and there’s hardly a scratch on it.), a 12″ cast iron skillet (less than $10 at a yard sale and I wouldn’t sell it for less than $100), and a 10″ All-Clad copper core fry pan / sauteuse ($185). This also means an $8 serrated knife from Amazon.com and a 285 dollar 10″ Shun Kaji chef’s knife (good Lord, I wish I got kickbacks for name-dropping/advertising). And obviously, as I mentioned, this means using a combination of a clean handkerchief inside a fine mesh bowl-shaped strainer (I use binder clips to hold the cloth in place). I think I get pretty good results.

    Apologies for the wordiness. I have a problem.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Michael, thanks for another year of wonderful posts containing info, lessons and advice.

    Best wishes to you and your family and to all the readers here.

  • Wilmita

    Dear Michael Rulman,

    A difficult first Thanksgiving without…for both of us this year Micheal, therefore I wish you and yours a happy one.

    I made the stock last year in an oven more 40 years old. This year I shall do it in my new , whoop-dee-doo, accurate temperature controlled, conventional/convection oven.

    I am certain it will be better than ever.

    Here’s to choosing life!

    -Wilmita

  • jscirish27

    Michael et. al; Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. As a professional cook, I appreciate the insight and passion provided here; your site is truly unique and extremely important. I am also fortunate enough to be able to cook, enjoy family, and type today because our little NYC joint is closed for the holiday.

    As to the chinois question, you want one that is solidly constructed with a very fine mesh. I have one that is made of a poly-fiber body with a fine Stainless Steel mesh that I really like. A store like JB Prince in NYC has a good selection of chinois (I got mine there) and you can order via phone or the internet. If you call and talk to the staff they would be more than happy to help you pick out one that suits your needs.

  • carri

    I thought for sure you’d sous vide your turkey this year,no? I guess some traditions are best left alone…roasting it is then!
    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there!
    May you all have warm company, great food and lively conversation! (sounds alot like this blog, Thank YOU Mr. Ruhlman!)

  • ntsc

    My wife started Thanksgiving day with over 2 gallons of ‘chicken’ stock (it contained a turkey carcass) on the stove gently simmering. At the end of the day, we had something like two cups left. One turkey had an underskin layer of chopped prosciutto, see ‘Dry Cured Ham’ in Charcuterie, chopped hazelnuts and enough butter to make Julia Child protest. The other was braised in Madeira.

    One of the appetizers we put out was a charcuterie plate, Tuscan Salami, Spanish Chorizo, Pepperone and a 1/2 pound piece of home cured ‘Prosciutto’, all from Charcuterie. It disappeared, OK the kids are all half Italian and like food so do their kids. Next year I may do double batches as I have almost none of this family of sausage left. This was even more popular than the side of home horse-radish cured salmon.

  • ntsc

    My wife started Thanksgiving day with over 2 gallons of ‘chicken’ stock (it contained a turkey carcass) on the stove gently simmering. At the end of the day, we had something like two cups left. One turkey had an underskin layer of chopped prosciutto, see ‘Dry Cured Ham’ in Charcuterie, chopped hazelnuts and enough butter to make Julia Child protest. The other was braised in Madeira.

    One of the appetizers we put out was a charcuterie plate, Tuscan Salami, Spanish Chorizo, Pepperone and a 1/2 pound piece of home cured ‘Prosciutto’, all from Charcuterie. It disappeared, OK the kids are all half Italian and like food so do their kids. Next year I may do double batches as I have almost none of this family of sausage left. This was even more popular than the side of home horse-radish cured salmon.

  • Don Luis

    “one of the great and unifying American holidays we all share”

    Actually, no. This is the World Wide Web, not the US of A web.

    No snark intended; enjoy the holidays.

    I will make turkey stock today.

  • Frank M

    It always helps to make sure you have enough containers ready to put the stock in when it’s ready!

  • Kirk

    Turkey consomme is a great way to use up the leftover egg whites from Thanksgiving baking. So many pumpkin pie recipes call for only yolks but then it is really a pumpkin custard pie.

  • Heather

    I spatchcock my turkey a day ahead and confit the legs and wings in duck fat with some shallots and garlic (I brine and roast the breasts separately). While that’s happening, I roast the carcass and then I can make my stock a day ahead to free up my burner on Game Day. I just use the confit’d shallot and garlic in the gravy, and it’s lovely. It only sounds like more trouble.

  • joseph

    After years of my beautiful wife’s ritual of boiling the carcass overnight, having to add water continually, and leaving in all the scraps, I persuaded her this year to let me follow the Ruhlman method. When we strained (cheesecloth) after 6 hours, and tasted the results, she was convinced. Thank you!
    Wishing a wonderful holiday season to everyone.

  • Victoria

    I don’t normally comment twice, but I must really thank you for this post. I didn’t have a chance to make turkey stock before Thanksgiving for my gravy, but as I now – thanks to you – always have some wonderful Zuni chicken stock in my freezer, I used that, and my gravy was perfect. But best of all, I did use the turkey carcass to make stock, and it was really wonderful. I added half of one of the legs and the two wings, and it really made great stock. I strained, strained, strained it, and it is beautiful. What a treat to have a fabulous smelling kitchen the day after Thanksgiving. Now I have a new tradition.

    I sincerely hope you and your family had a nice holiday.

  • justin

    Doesn’t sound like it was a good year to have a Kosher Thanksgiving though…..

  • Pat Barnes

    I reduce my stock by a 4:1 ratio.Right now I ahve 2 gal+2 cups reducing. I’LL wid up with 8.5 cups. Is this a good idea? I do it to save spacea and also because since it’s only 2 of us,we sometimes only need a little stock. Great ida of the 180 deg limit. This batch looks better than in the past. Made it with one of my honey brined home-smoked turkey carcasses.

  • Bob delGrosso

    NancyH

    Giblets, necks etc in turkey/chicken stock are fine (liver too) if you like they way they taste. There is no reason that I can think of why you would not put them in unless you were working for someone who told you otherwise.

  • Kate in the NW

    Happy Thanksgiving (late)!

    We just got back from visiting family in CA (am now saving $$$ – apparently we’ll need LOTS of it – to move to Mendocino…but that’s another story…) and guess what we did today?

    BOUGHT A BIG OL’ BATCH OF TKY WINGS AND NECKS TO MAKE STOCK/GRAVY!!!! One disadvantage of T-giving away is no leftovers…so we’ll make our own, fresh! You and your minions have converted me into a homemade stock snob. Thank you.

    PLUS – I found a great source for marrow bones and will be trying your recipe for that this week, much to the daughter’s delight.

    By the way – some nice onion agradolce is awesome on a leftover-turkey-on-rye. It’s become a T-giving classic at our house. Our best to you and yours this delicious holiday season!

    —Kate

  • Mantonat

    As long as you are on the stock topic (and since you mentioned Swanson’s by name in your stock recipe from last year), any comments on Top Chef’s use of Swanson’s and Butterball turkeys? I guess they have to make money, but I was particularly dissapointed that one of the weaker contestants basically got a free pass on the Foo Fighters episode because she did well with the butterball (which all but cooks itself).

    To make up for it, they should have a challenge where the chefs have to make their own stock and then make a consomme from it.

  • Natalie Sztern

    S0, I had the butcher take the beautiful 14 lb turkey and cut it up a la Grant’s video. I wanted desperately to sous vides the breast but could not figure or find the right temp of water nor how long to cook it according to its’weight, so I roasted it.

    Interesting in that I do not believe I got as much carved turkey from the cut-up pieces as I think I normally get from a whole bird.

    Never a reader should fret – the carcass is going to be roasted first and then ‘stocked’ –

  • carri

    mel h. Thanks! I actually did see that, I should have shared here sooner. my bad. I caught the link off of Alinea @ Home’s site…I was riveted…

  • Kelli

    A thoroughly agree with making stock ahead of time. I host Thanksgiving every year for about 14 people. There is never enough gravy strictly from the drippings. Plus, it’s extra work starting the gravy after the turkey comes out of the oven. I make my stock using the same roast / simmer method on Tuesday before, and have more than enough on hand to make gravy for the meal and leftovers. This year, as I was making the gravy, I commented that “maybe there’s too much gravy,” which was met by a resounding “NO! Never enough!” from my family. I am a make-stock-ahead-of-time convert.