Don’t throw away those bones
Written by Lia Grabowski | Photos by Jonathan Boncek
So you’ve roasted your turkey, let it rest, and carved it up for the Thanksgiving feast, but what about all those scraps? Turns out, what’s left on the cutting board is the stuff of gold. Making stock from turkey bones can set you up for months of hearty soups and stews; it’s simple to make, but results in a flavor fuller than store-bought boxed versions (not to mention is more cost effective and less wasteful). If you cook your turkey on a bed of aromatics instead of a rack (which you should, because they soak up all the drippings and flavor as the bird cooks), add those too, along with any juices left after making gravy. Throwing caution to the wind, some cooks toss whole veggies into their stock, but certain bits—top ends of carrots, onion skins— can make the stock dirty and bitter.
As the stock simmers, the bones release natural gelatin, which gives the stock body and causes it to solidify when it cools; this is what distinguishes stock from broth, which is made with just the meat. The bones also give off fat, the vegetables particulates; these produce foam that rises to the surface. So keep your eyes on the pot, as you’ll want to occasionally skim it off. It takes hours of simmering for the bones to release flavor, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Once it’s done, you’ll want to strain the stock into containers sitting in an ice bath to cool it quickly; the sudden change in temperature prevents bacteria from growing (dividing it into smaller containers helps with this too). Refrigerate it overnight to give any fat a chance to rise to the top, then skim once more in the morning. After that, freeze the stock in ice cube trays for easy access or portion into zip-top bags and freeze flat to save precious icebox space. It’ll last about three months frozen—perfect timing for all those winter soups and stews you have in mind.