Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving: Turkey Stock & Gravy

Growing up, I used stock from cans. I didn't know better. But one day I tasted homemade stock and was hooked. The developed flavors of meat and vegetables was incredible. So now I make stock all the time and freeze it. It's great for soups and just about anything. In this case, it's great for gravy.
But first, the stock. I usually take the leftover turkey carcass as my meat base. But if you don't have that, use a smoked turkey leg. I get mine from the butcher but I've seen smoked turkey legs and wings in supermarkets so they're more readily available now. With that, add 4 stalks of celery, 4 carrots, 2 onions, and the stems of a bunch of parsley. Keep the leaves for garnishing your dishes. Honestly, you can use scraps to make stock. Collect carrots peels, onion skins, celery cores, and parsley stems. They freeze well too. Collect it until a 1 gallon plastic bag is filled.

Anyway, place everything in a large pot or dutch oven. Add about 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns. Then add enough water to fill up the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer and reduce until half of the liquid is gone. Taste for development of flavor. I don't salt my stock. I salt when I use it for whatever dish I'm making.
Let stock cool, strain, and box up. It freezes really well. You'll consistently find frozen stock in my freezer.
So one of the main uses for stock during Thanksgiving is gravy. I already have the stock premade. So now add that extra oomph like using the vegetables from the bottom of the pan from the roast turkey.
I scrape it all into a medium sized pot including the juices, fat, and whole vegetables. Avoid the really charred pieces. Bring to a boil then add stock. Then take an immersion blender and blend everything together.
You'll get something like the below once everything is blended. The vegetables thickened the sauce on its own. No need for flour or cornstarch here. This will be one of the most flavorful gravies you'll ever taste. It's just all vegetables, meat juices, and stock. Of course, salt to taste but it usually doesn't need salt.
Now here's a nice trick. Turn off the heat and allow the gravy to cool. Once cooled, all the excess oil will come to the top. Yes, it'll still separate even when the gravy is this thick. Skim the oil off. What's even easier is if you can chill the gravy, the fat on top will solidify and make it even easier to remove.

Turkey Stock

1 smoked turkey leg or 2 smokes turkey wings
4 celery stalks, halved
4 carrots, halved
2 onions, halved
1 bunch of parsley stems
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

1. Place first 6 ingredients into large stock pot or dutch oven. Fill pot with water. Cover and bring to boil on high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 3-4 hours until liquid is reduced by half.
3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain all solids.
4. Place in freezable containers. It will keep for a long time.


Turkey Gravy

1 qrt homemade turkey stock
1 half sheet pan of leftover vegetables, juices, and fat from roast turkey

1. Scrap leftover vegetables, juices, and fat from pan into medium pot. Do not use very burned pieces as they will be bitter.
2. Bring to boil, add homemade stock. Bring to boil. Lower heat to medium and use an immersion blender to break up the vegetables completely until gravy is smooth. Salt to taste.
3. Remove from heat and allow gravy to rest and cool. The fat will separate and float to top. Skim off all fat.
4. Reheat and serve.

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