Domestic Goddess Cooking Tip – Turkey Stock-Recipe Included (2019 Updates!)

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Are you making Thanksgiving for a crowd, want a turkey stock that makes enough for your stuffing (see Netties Stuffing) and a boat load of gravy?

Domestic Goddess Tip of the Day: Clip the tips off the wings, leaving the drummie and meaty finger.

You can also add saved up chicken necks or chicken wings to your stock to ‘Oomph’ up the flavor. I always cook the Neck, Gizzards and Heart in the stock, (But do NOT add the Liver. Cook your liver separate in a small skillet with a little butter, then dice it up and add back to the gravy, along with the neck meat, diced heart and gizzard. Cooking the liver in the stock can impart a bitter taste. Trust me, it’s quite delicious and a great way to get the fam to eat organ meats)
The flavor that resides in the poultry fat is water soluble. So, by adding the fatty wings, you pull out the flavor and can then skim & throw away the fat.

(2019 Update) Over the past couple of years, I have increasingly seen my meat departments carry packages of necks, wings and gizzards BEFORE the holiday! It’s so totally awesome! Now, I head out to the grocery a week in advance (you can freeze the stock, so you could make it a month in advance if you can find the meats)
For this batch I now use 3 quarts water, add 2 necks, 2-4 wings, back bone (if included), and the gizzards (not liver). Using the added meats really increases the collagen and richness of the stock, I highly recommend to ‘go big’ and make a full stock pot of stock, then you have stock for your dressing, gravy and soup the next day.
Then again, you may want just enough for the big meal itself. Its a flexible recipe, add a bit more or less of the herbs depending on your tastes. I now add a couple palm fulls of herbs de provence and strain the stock after cooking, squeezing as much goodness out of those bones.

Here is my ‘go-to’ flexible recipe for Turkey Stock:
3 quarts of water
3-4 large Carrots, rough chopped
3-4 Stalks of Celery, rough chopped
1 Large (or 2 medium) Onions, rough chopped
1/2 a bunch of Parsley (the stocks of parsley are a great way to pinch a penny and use something people usually throw-away)
2-3 sprigs of Fresh Sage (or 1 tbsp dried)
2-3 sprigs of Fresh Thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
Turkey Neck, heart, giblets and wing tips or whole wings, don’t forget the tail is good to clip and use in your stock also.
whole peppercorns

Let it simmer, lid off for at least an hour, maybe 2. I usually end up with about 8 cups of stock. If you do this the day before (like I do) while your turkey is brining overnight, strain and store overnight in the fridge.

(2019 Update) I make this now about 5 days in advance. When cold, the fat will rise to the top and is easy to peel off. This stock makes a gravy your family and friends will rave about…so make sure you make a big batch!

Rarely does anyone eat the the wing, while the cartilage and fat add a lot of flavor. So try this little trick of mine!

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Got Turkey? Brine it!

This next spring will be the big 2-5 celebrating hubby’s and my wedded bliss, which means I have been making Thanksgiving for going on 25 years, give or take a year or two away from home. That means, I have tried many brands of turkey and tried many variations of preparation. After some ok, mediocre, or pretty good variations, I have settled on the trick of brining my bird every year, which results in a perfectly seasoned, very tender, juicy and flavorful turkey. I also think I’ve perfected the cooking method, but we’ll leave that for another day.
(see How to Cook a Turkey)

First of all, do not use a pre-seasoned turkey like Butterball or Jennie-O. Those have already been injected with a solution to yield moist & seasoned turkeys. I have done the injection method from scratch, but I find it hit or miss.
I prefer not to ingest some of the additives, and I also like to control what goes in to my food. Brining allows me that control.

For this recipe, I use an all-natural, hormone-free, free range organic turkey, but just natural is perfectly fine. I like to try and support local farmers, so I find stores that carry fresh turkeys grown locally. Most people steer away from natural, free-range turkeys because they can be dry and tough. This method will ensure a tender, moist bird you can be proud to put on the table. An added benefit is the highly seasoned, flavorFULL gravy that results.
(Note: Do not add salt to your gravy until you have tasted it. The drippings will be naturally salty from the brine, so be sure to taste test and season the gravy. I have never had to add salt to my gravy since I started brining.)

Let’s begin.

First of all, pull together your brining solution. I saw this trick on an episode of Alton Browns “Good Eats” and it honestly is the best Thanksgiving tip ever. Use a construction cooler. You know, the orange kind you can buy at the hardware store? I bought mine a few years back and use it every year, sanitizing it after each use. (bleach, soap and hot water) I just mix the brine up directly in the bottom of the cooler and plop the turkey in:

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That is one happy turkey!
Then follow that with a 7 pound bag of ice. I use bagged ice because it’s easier and I know that the ice is pure and clean tasting, not having any off odors or tastes that love to settle in home ice makers.

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Finally, put the lid on tight, and stuff in an out of the way corner. I do this the day before Thanksgiving, usually late afternoon, early evening. The next morning, I pull the turkey out, rinse it off, pat it dry and let it stand covered for an hour before rubbing with herbed butter and baking. You can also use the handy-dandy pour spout and drain the water out directly into your sink! Your bird will sit in the brine for 8-12 hours, so back into your cooking time, allowing for some time for the bird to dry and come to room temp. The largest bird I’ve done this way was 20 pounds. Anything bigger and it won’t fit in the cooler.

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Seriously, how easy is that? This method frees up your refrigerator, which is usually full to the brim anyway, and yields a truly yummy turkey and incredible drippings. Give it a try, and tell me how it went!

Honey Turkey Brine

1 gallon Very Hot Water
1 pound Kosher Salt
2 quarts Vegetable Broth
1 pound Honey
1 7-lb bag of ice
1/2 package Fresh Sage, roughly torn (you can use 1 tbsp of dried added to the hot water)
1/2 bunch of Fresh Parsley, roughly torn (do not use dried)
2-3 tbsp Herbs de Provence, added to the hot water to release the flavors.

Combine the hot water (and if using – dried herbs) and salt in the construction cooler. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pour in the vegetable broth and honey. Add half the ice and give a stir.

ALLOW TO COOL!

Place turkey, breast up – feet up – in the cooler. I submerge the bird as best as possible to get the brine in the cavity. Dump the last of the ice over the top. cover and let brine for 8-12 hours.

*Note: You can use a vegetable boullion also like Better than Boullion. The additional salt will not be a problem.