Stock for Gravy
Do you make turkey stock? If so, what method do you use? If not, how come?
Extra Credit: Share your favorite turkey stock or gravy recipe
If you are like my family, and flavorful gravy is a highlight of the meal, you'll need to make or buy turkey stock. I always recommend making your own, but some butchers sell high-quality turkey stock that you can buy. Please stay away from the thin, salty, grocery store brand "broth". It will not result in flavorful gravy.
There are many ways to make a stock, depending on what you are planning on using it for, but at its most basic, it's just water, meat, bones, vegetables, herbs and spices simmered for a long time. If you have a pressure cooker I highly recommend using it, it produces a richer, deeper stock than simmering it...plus you don't have to tend the stove for an hour or two!
My go-to stock method, especially when I'm making gravy, is to get a whole turkey and remove the breasts, legs, and thighs, which I will cook later. If you have already roasted a whole turkey, you can use all the bones leftover once you've removed most of the tasty meat from them. If you are using a pre-cut turkey, you can buy an extra package of turkey wings to use.
I like to broil or roast the bones in the oven until the skin and meat begins to brown. This browning adds a lot of deep flavor to the stock but if you want a lighter stock you can skip the roasting.
To start the stock, I will sauté some aromatic vegetables until they develop some color. Then I add some herbs and spices, the roasted turkey pieces, the neck and gizzard and cover it all with water. You can simmer it on the stove for 1 to 3 hours or cook it in a pressure cooker for about 60 minutes.
Once it's done, strain the bones and vegetables from the stock and it's ready to use. You can also freeze the stock and use it later. I usually freeze it in Ziploc freezer bags that are laid flat so it's easy to break chunks off over the next month.
The vegetables, herbs, and spices you use will depend on what you want your stock to taste like. A basic combination is carrots, onions, and celery with a bay leaf or two and some coriander, cloves, and peppercorns.
Some people really like the sweetness red pepper adds and most any vegetables, herbs, and spices will work, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. I know some people who don't use anything except for the bones themselves because they want the essence of the turkey to shine through.
I generally just strain my stock using a colander but for a more refined stock you can use a chinois or cheesecloth to remove more of the particles.
In addition to being perfect for making turkey gravy, the stock is wonderful when a few tablespoons are added to sautéed vegetables or stir fries. It's also a great base for a turkey, vegetable, or meat soup.