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Turkey Stock, Rendered Turkey Fat, and Turkey Gravy

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Folks have been asking me how to make stock and gravy for our heritage turkey recipe, so I have basically copied a couple other recipes to reflect how I do it. Making the stock ahead of time is very important, because if you are following our recipe for heritage turkey, you may find that you don't have much in the way of pan drippings, since the salt + koji + gentle cooking means less moisture is released from the meat. That means you need a good stock to take the place of any pan drippings.



1. Turkey Stock -- Make at least one day before you plan to cook your turkey (adapted from this recipe)


Ingredients

  • Turkey neck, wing tips (removed from your turkey), pelvis (from removing the legs), and backbone (if you have spatchcocked the breast)

  • Giblets (optional; if you are not a liver fan, leave the liver out of it)

  • Bits of extra fat from turkey cavity (optional, see Section 2)

  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) canola or vegetable oil, plus more for drizzling on bones

  • 2 to 3 large carrots, cut into chunks

  • 3 large celery ribs, cut into chunks

  • 2 large onions, cut into wedges

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 quart of good-quality low sodium chicken or turkey stock (or water)

  • Parsley sprigs and/or thyme sprigs

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 5 black peppercorns

  • Kosher salt

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Drizzle turkey bones and parts with oil, tossing to lightly coat. Sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast until the upper side is nice and golden brown, and your house smells awesome. (Check turkey often, since browning times can vary depending on the size and condition of the bones.)

  2. While the turkey parts are browning, cut your veggies into large chunks and toss with oil. Pull the baking tray out and flip them bonies over. Tuck your veggies into the spaces remaining on the pan, sprinkle more salt, and return to oven to bake more. You want the turkey pieces to be really nice and brown. (Alternately, if you don't have space on the sheet, you can brown the veggies in the pot you will be using to make the stock.)

  3. Once everything is brown and toasty, put it all (turkey bones and aromatic veggies) in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot. Add a few sprigs each of parsley and/or thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

  4. Pour about 1/2 cup (120ml) HOT water into each rimmed baking sheet and, using a metal spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from aluminum foil. Pour into stockpot.

  5. Add enough stock to just barely cover all the solids in the pot; if the chicken/turkey stock on hand is not enough to cover, then add water until bones and veggies are covered. Set over medium-high heat, and bring to a bare simmer. Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, occasionally skimming fat and scum from surface, until stock has reduced slightly and is deep and rich, 2 to 3 hours.

  6. Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer, let cool, then transfer to containers and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 6 hours; discard solids. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Before using, remove any turkey fat that has risen to the top and solidified; use this (along with turkey fat rendered from any globs of fat from turkey cavity) to make sauté veggies for stuffing/dressing, or to make roux for your gravy.

2. Rendered Turkey Fat (Optional) -- Work on this at the same time you are working on your stock


Ingredients

  • Any bits of excess turkey fat that you have found in the body cavity of the turkey, around the gizzard, and in the neck

Steps

  1. My preferred method (relies on making stock day before or having a really good fat separator): Toss the fat bits in with your turkey parts when making the stock above, allowing to brown and crips and render out in the oven. Include them and any rendered fat when transferring to stock pot. Once your stock has cooled to room temperature, strain and place it in the fridge; the rendered fat will float to the top and form a solid layer, which you can lift off and then use in cooking.

  2. Alternate turkey schmaltz method: Chop your fat into small pieces. Place the pieces in a cold frying pan over low heat, letting the pan gently come up to temperature. Gently cook the pieces, stirring occasionally, until all the fat has melted out and the pieces of flesh are browned and crispy. Drain the fat and set aside.

  3. Use rendered turkey fat to amp up the turkey flavor of your gravy (by using in place of or in addition to butter), your stuffing (by using to cook your onion-celery-veggies), or anywhere else you want more turkey goodness.


3. Simple Turkey Gravy -- Work on this after your turkey is done cooking, and while it is resting


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, rendered turkey fat, or a combination of the two

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 4 cups of turkey drippings from the roasting pan (without the fat) & turkey stock

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Chopped cooked giblets (optional), shredded chopped meat pulled from the neck (optional)

Steps

  1. Melt turkey fat and/or butter over medium high heat in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden blonde, about 2 minutes.

  2. Gradually whisk in turkey stock in a steady stream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until reduced to 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired mix in chopped giblets and/or chopped neck meat. (Note -- I usually refrain from adding all of the turkey stock in one go, in case the gravy comes out too thin; if it's too thick after 10-15 minutes of simmering, I add more stock, and then adjust seasoning).

  3. Serve immediately or store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week, reheating over medium-low heat before serving.

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