I’ve gotten this question a lot recently.  What are the three things or techniques that separate the professional cook’s food from the home cook’s food?

I want to talk about Number 2: the second most important difference is the fact that professional kitchens make their own stock.

I cannot say this strongly or loudly enough: DO NOT use canned stock/broth.  Use WATER instead.  I repeat.  You DO NOT NEED to buy that crappy can of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth!  It will HURT your food.  Use water instead.  When that recipe says 1 cup of fresh chicken stock (or good quality canned broth), please know that your food, 90 percent of the time, will taste better if you use tap water instead of that "good quality" canned broth.  Water is a miracle.

Last time I was doing a recipe for a book with one of the most lauded chefs in the country—he said to the recipe developer/writer, yes, ok to use canned if you don’t have fresh.  I said, “Really?”  He said, “yes.”  I said, “When was the last time you used canned stock?”  When he didn’t respond, I said, “Have you tasted canned stock?”  He said he hadn’t that he could recall.

I repeat: your food will taste better and fresher if you use that wonderful and inexpensive fluid at the end of your tap rather than anything that you can buy in a can or a box.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I have to say, by the end of Thursday, tens of millions of households will have the most miraculous ingredients for stock right at hand–turkey bones that have been lovingly roasted.  And most of these households will have three more days of holiday to put them to use. That roasted turkey carcass, will make an extraordinary rich delicious poultry broth.  Far superior to chicken stock.  Infinitely versatile.  Health-giving!  Yea, verily, I say unto you!

Chop up that carcass or pull it apart so that it fits into your biggest pot.  Cover it with water, enough so it’s covered by an inch or so of water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Skim off anything that rises to the top that you wouldn’t want to eat if you saw it floating in a bowl of soup.  Then, this is important, stick the pot in your oven at about 180 degrees F (or as close to that as possible).  And forget about it for fours.  Or five.  Or six.  As long as it’s not bubbling you’re good. It should not be bubbling, but it should be too hot for you to hold your hand against for more than an instant.

An hour before you want to take it out of the oven, add a couple carrots and a couple big Spanish onions, cut up, and continue cooking in the oven for another hour (if you have celery, parsely, thyme, garlic, bay, peppercorns, these are good to add as well, esp the thyme).  Strain through a colander.  Then, and this is important in my opinion, strain it through a kitchen cloth, cheese cloth if you have it, or any kind of cloth (I use ones that i can wash and reuse because I’m a cheapskate and hate to keep buying cheese cloth).  Straining through cloth makes a huge difference (chinois won’t do it in my opinon).  Now it’s ready to use or chill it and take the fat that congeals off the top.  Great to try a consomme with.  Make a risotto.  Soup, bien sur.  And it freezes great.

Don’t toss those wonderful bones!


136 Wonderful responses to “Thanksgiving: THE best time to make stock”

  • Jeff

    What a coincidence, I just sat down from skimming the fat off the chicken stock that I made last night. It may be kind of strange, but I find making stock very relaxing and calming.

  • JD

    Hmmmm….consomme….what does that even mean in these troubled times?

    I will agree and say that crappy 79¢ “broth” is really just chicken-scented salt water. And the low-sodium cheapo broth is….nothing.

    However, I think that some of the more expensive products that label themselves as “stock” are pretty good. The Kitchen Basics brand, which comes in convenient 8oz “juice boxes”, is a big helper, especially when you’re trying to give more depth of flavor to a dish that you’re preparing in a hurry.

    That being said, yeah, there is no substitute for homemade stock or demiglace, and I’ll definitely be swiping the carcass from my mother-in-law’s table before it can go in the trash can. I’ll use half of it for delicious turkey soup. The other half I’ll reduce even more, then freeze in ice cube trays for adding a few extra tablespoons of flavor to recipes over the next few months.

  • Kathryn

    You know, I’ve never tried to make stock, but I just might have to steal the turkey remains from my aunt’s house this weekend. I hate canned broth — it’s always just too, too salty.

  • Annie

    Michael, my cuisine rests firmly on a basis of Swanson’s low-sodium chicken broth, but I don’t use it in place of water–it’s broth, not stock. I learned the difference from reading your books!

  • David Dadekian

    I have stock in the refridgerator and freezer at almost all times, but I know sometimes after making risotto (4 cups used) I run low and the Trader Joe’s Organic (same price as non-organic) stock is slightly better than water. Kitchen Basic also works in a pinch. I’ll never debate the wonders of homemade stock, which I’ll be making this weekend after I wipe out what’s in my fridge making Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really easy to make and I’ll add a huge vote for straining through cheesecloth.

    One question, is there that much value in adding the onions, carrots, herbs, etc. toward the end? I’ve never done that but will this weekend. Thanks.

  • Genuwine

    Thanks for the stock advice and recipe. I admit, I’ve already “stock”ed up on turkey broth but can’t wait to make your recipe and start using it.

  • jsmeeker

    I feel like a criminal now….

    I freely admit to use the Swanson’s boxed low sodium (or sometimes their Organic) chicken broth fairly frequently. I just do.

    Of course, I do make stock at home. But I only have a pot so large, so I can only make so much. Plus, I pretty much have to do it on a weekend day. And doing that seems to kill my whole day.

    Is it time to suck it up and just make more stock more often? employ both of my largest pots at the same time to produce more at once? I could reduce the heck out of it to save freezer space.

  • Matthew Bin

    It’s a long-standing family tradition to make stock from the turkey carcass, and then to have turkey risotto the weekend after Thanksgiving. For me, that beats a turkey dinner, hands down. I hope others follow your advice… having stock on hand is truly a great thing for a home cook.

  • Burnt Lumpia

    I’m happy to say that I make turkey stock every year, but I’ve never thought to leave it in the oven. What a great tip! That sounds a lot better than having to watch the pot on the stove all day.

    I have a question though. Should I put the lid on the pot in the oven, or leave it uncovered?

  • kevin

    Two words: lentil soup

    Turkey stock makes the best lentil soup you’ve ever had (and smoked turkey stock is even better).

  • Marlene

    Funny, I just took veal stock off the stove. I’m with Jeff in that I find making stock an extremely relaxing thing to do. Our Thanksgiving (Canada) has long since past, but I certainly made stock from the carcass!

  • nondiregol

    I have to agree that making stock by sucking the life out of bones is my favorite kitchen task. Yesterday I roasted bones for tonight’s onion soup gratinee. I need to get the chill out of my own bones.

    The only reason that we have turkey on Thanksgiving is because the effing pilgrims were a bunch of turkeys. That said, I will cook turkey on any day but Thanksgiving. The stock is good for a hearty mushroom and barley soup.

  • logicalmind

    I’ve been making my own chicken and beef stock for years. I have a large freezer in the basement full of various size containers. I am in the process of acquiring veal parts to do a veal stock as per your book. But I have to confess on how I sometimes cheat, and how I do it.

    Yesterday I was making a broccoli soup. I cut up the broccoli florets and peeled the stems. I then cooked them in a large pot of salted boiling water. Without shocking them I put them into a blender with enough cooking water to blend and made a nice smooth puree. FWIW, I set the cooked stems aside and diced them to later garnish the soup. The taste was very broccoli but it was lacking body. I did two things. I added some msg, sold as Ac’cent in stores. And I added some xanthan gum for viscosity. These two additions turn a watery body-less soup into something extraordinary. That’s one way to turn water into a sort of cheating stock.

  • The Foodist


    I remember my Ex’s mother saying once to me:
    “Why make stock, you can buy good canned stock”

    I thought to myself “Are you crazy?!”

    Good pointers on post-turkeyday stock!

  • hannehanne

    Thank you for this. I make stock with my turkey every year, but I always feel vaguely inappropriate, just because I find so few recipes for turkey stock around. I just bought your book and I plan to use your model for stock (I think I’ve always boiled mine too much). Canadian Thanksgiving is already past and I’ve used up most of my turkey stock, but maybe I ought to do the turkey thing again for Christmas…. until then, there’s always chicken.

  • kitchenbeard

    Micheal, I’ve been making stock in my slow cooker for a while now. It allows me to set it off on the counter before work and come home to it done. Your thoughts?

  • Kovalic

    It’s stuff like this that makes coming to this site a joy.

    What is your opinion of using something like the organic broths they sell boxed (for want of a better word – you know the kind of containers I mean) at places like whole foods? As bad as the canned stuff (which I never use).

    Now, IMHO, the worst POSSIBLE thing to use is…

    …stock cubes. Urgh. A surefire way to destroy any soup…

  • Tim M.

    I’m going to dinner at my in-laws in the afternoon, then my parents in the evening…Twice the bones for double the stock! Looks like my Friday will be productive.

  • EdTheRed

    I used water instead of store-bought broth just last night to make a pan sauce from a small slow-roasted blade roast. You were right on about water (with some aromats) doing a better job (and also about the dollop of mustard in the finished sauce). I actually *had* a freezer full of veal, chicken, and beef stock from last weekend’s pre-Thanksgiving stock-making binge, but I’ve got big plans for all of that. 😉

    hannehanne: For post-Thanksgiving turkey stock, if you want a recipe, the 1997 (All New, All Purpose) Joy of Cooking has a decent one (I think they call for adding the aromats early in the simmer, though, so if using the Ruhlman method, you’d want to hold off on adding those until 30-60 minutes from the end).

  • Schlake

    I keep containers of homemade stock in my freezer at all times, and make 170 mile round trips to the grocery store just to buy the stuff I need to make stock out of.

    In a future post, I would greatly appreciate it if you could elaborate on 1) why baking at 180F is so important, and 2) the nuances of onion types in making stock.

    I simmer my stock so that just a bare hint of bubbling occurs, and I’ve never considered baking it at 180F. What happens to the stock above 180F?

    As for the onions, I’m perpetually at a lose to know which kind of onion to use for anything, not just stock. Lately I’ve just been using red onions for almost everything because I think they have more flavor and better vlafor than the white or yellow ones.

  • Scotty

    I’ve actually got the second of two turkeys I am cooking for a drop off catering gig in the oven. They only want breasts, so you can imagine where the carcasses (Carcassii?) are going!

    Pursuant to delGrosso’s comment, can you make stock without putting it in the oven?

  • Bob delGrosso


    You know I was breaking them: stock in the oven is actually a very clever method. Even heating is very critical in stock making and doing it in the oven seems to nail that.

    Ah, but you were breaking them too. Right?


    I know your question was directed to Ruhlman but here’s my two cents:

    I’ve never seen mass produced stock in any form that was any good. If you cannot make it yourself the best you can hope for is to find some small shop that makes it by hand from good ingredients. Ruhlman is correct on this. If you have to chose between using canned or boxed stock and water, you are better off with water.

    Water is cheap, usually will not kill you, and you can always “juke” up the flavor by adding vegetables and meat and tuning it into stock!

  • EdTheRed

    Schlake: cooking the stock in the oven is just a means of ensuring an even heat during the simmer. By setting the thermostat to a certain temperature, you can ensure that the temperature of the stock won’t go much below or above that temperature (you’ll have to check it occasionally, since no oven is perfect, so small adjustments may be necessary). You also are hitting the stock with heat from all sides, not just the bottom of the pan, which ensures even cooking and prevents things from burning on the bottom of the pan over the course of a long simmer (especially important when you’re making veal stock, which takes a long dang time).

    The 180F guideline is there because if you go too far over that temperature, you’ll start to extract harsher flavors from your bones/meat/aromats. Sort of like what happens when you brew coffee at too high a temperature. *cough* *Starbucks!* *cough* That, and you risk extracting the essence of your ingredients too quickly, which would still result in a decent stock, but one without the multiple layers of flavor that you’re setting out to create. I wouldn’t worry if, over the course of 4-12 hours, you see the occasional bubble.

    I’ve been using the oven simmering technique for various stews, chilis, and curries for several years, but I hadn’t thought to use it for stock until I read Ruhlman’s veal stock recipe. It did indeed work very well.

  • mirinblue

    Michael (or Bob deGrosso)
    Any thoughts on adding the livers, gizzards, heart, etc. to the water base with the bones? This is how I always do it and how my mother did it too! Does this tend to “foul” the stock in some odd way? Recomended or not?
    Thanks and Rock on Brothers~

  • Snoozer

    I bow to the master. I wish I had more freezer space to devote to homemade stock. I make a kickass chicken soup just like Grandma’s, for noodles and matzo balls. It can be used as stock in a pinch, just careful with the salt in the recipe. Next time I will try Michaels advice re adding the aromats late in the cooking. But if we are going to compare canned/boxed chicken broths, College Inn *kills* Swanson. It’s the only thing I’ve ever bought that remotely tastes someone cooked a chicken in it.

  • Claudia

    I’ve spent the last two days on stock. Then demi-glace. Then glace di viande. My world is brown, brown, brown . . .

    but good, good, good. Thanks, Michael. For years, I’ve been substituting veal stock or demiglace into recipes that called for beef broth, and it has made all of the dishes . . . . well . . . almost magical. While the hubby is totally mystified by all the brown stuff in the freezer and/or fridge, I think he’s finally figured out that that just might be why his favorite veal marsala is so damn good, and I no longer have to defend the contents of my refrigerator. Veal stock. Suitable for just about any purpose. Dab some behind your ears – what the hell. (!)

  • Bob delGrosso


    I think a small amount of offal adds depth to poultry stock. I personally would not add a whole raw turkey liver to a stock made from a single turkey carcass. I typically add 1/2. Liver is bitter, and a little bit of that makes it interesting, but too much is well, too bitter. Certainly I’d put in the whole heart and gizzard. Yum.

    The only way the entrails would foul the stock is if there is bile in the liver (nasty greenish-bluish stuff), too much liver (bitter), or they have not been rinsed and are loaded up with bacteria which will make the stock cloudy.

    That said, it’s not common practice for high end Francophilic restaurant chefs to add guts, because they tend to like poultry stock that is very delicate. I’m pretty sure the CIA does not condone entrails in poultry stock,except perhaps on Asian Kitchens. (Memory fails me. Ruhlman? Pardus?)

  • Hank

    Mirinblue – I use giblets sometimes (when I don’t use them for other things) and they add flavor. Livers will put off a scum at the beginning though, because of the blood in them. Just skim it. DEFINITELY put the neck in there — that’s what it’s for!

    But, alas, turkey stock is VERY strong. You will know it is turkey no matter what you put this stock into. And turkey, IMHO, is a prima donna of the poultry world in that it does not play well with other meat flavors. I end up using it for risotto (or, better yet, farro!) served with turkey meat in some fashion OR as the only “meat” dish on the plate.

    Bob, Michael? Have you (or anyone else out here) ever pressure-canned stock? I freeze mine in quart Mason jars, but it is bulky and they sometimes crack from expansion, even when I leave more than an inch of headspace. This, of course, is a major bummer. Thoughts? Suggestions?

  • Mark in St Louis

    Someone may have touched on this already, but would you roast your mirepoix for a white turkey stock? If so, would you still add them with an hour to go, or should it be less?


  • truenorthern

    Making stock in the oven technique is intriguing but I don’t understand the rationale of such a slow process. Clarity? Maximum extraction? I don’t like to tie up my one oven so, if I need to reduce heat to less than 200F on my electric burners, I use a wok ring smaller than the base of the pot that I’m using. It gets the base far enough away.

    I also break down the carcass with a cleaver. The greater surface to volume ratio gives me less but a more concentrated stock. I can always dilute it, should that be required. Space is at a premium in my kitchen so I tend to reduce any stock I will not be using immediately down to glace de viande. Pour it into ice cube trays, freeeze it, break out the cubes and store them in freezer bags in the freezer until required.

    A word of caution too. Too slow a process will allow the growth of bacteria, some of which you really, really don’t want. Keep any food product greater than 140F or less than 40F.

  • ktdid747

    Can’t wait to try this! (thanks!)… My Thanksgiving tradition has always been to take the carcass(es) and make the broth (I can’t stand canned chicken broth and always go homemade so I agree with you there ;P) but I’ve never gone the oven route to make it.

    I usually make soup and then, the rest, I freeze in ice cube trays to use when I need them (which works GREAT, by the way) 😉

  • Yolanda

    Wow. I must be a pretty awful cook, because I find that my dishes do taste better when I use Kitchen Basics or Trade Joe stocks. In spite of that, I have stock cooking on the stove at this minute, made from roasted turkey wings. But apparently the carrot, onion, garlic, and herbs I’ve placed in there were a mistake.

    Following the advice of cooking professionals can be much like reading parenting books: the advice changes constantly, frequently conflicts, and always leaves you feeling inadequate.

  • Mahala

    I’ve been using the oven to cook many things that I’d normally simmer on the stove top. They can safely cook unattended while I’m doing my afternoon running with kids. It’s only logical that stock would do well, too. I can’t wait to try it.

  • veron

    Don’t shoot me , but I do use swanson’s occasionally when I do run out of homemade stock. It’s still better than plain water, I think. Besides , didn’t Cook Illustrated rank it pretty highly a couple of years ago.

  • Bob delGrosso


    There is one piece of advice that I give that will never change: cook it yourself and when you can’t, don’t worry about it.

    BTW, Why for goodness sake, is it a mistake to add garlic, onion, carrot and herbs to stock? Somebody?

  • palmsey

    I think Yolanda just meant that according to Ruhlman she shouldn’t have added them yet.

  • redman

    I’ve found that the week before turkey day is also a great time to make stock- turkeys are cheap in the store, and if you make a dark turkey stock with an extra carcass you have great brown turkey stock to use for your gravy on the day of the meal instead of using canned stuff or making an ad hoc stock the day of the with neck.

    you can roast the breasts of the first bird for extra white meat- always welcome leftovers- and save the extra thighs in freezer for some other use

  • Sandy

    Gawd, Ruhlman, you had to do it didn’t you. My husband stole the kitchen for most of the weekend so my broth didnt get made.

    Looks like Thanksgiving production just got moved forward a day. Thanks a LOT. Why I started hanging out here, I’ll never know.

    Sandy, heading off to torture that chicken carcass while cussing Ruhlman because its convenient.

  • Michelle

    Well, Ruhlman, it was tough, it was difficult to hear, but someone had to tell the cold, hard truth and I for one must thank you for having the carcass to do it. I must admit, I feel like a common criminal, for back in the deep, dark portals of my disarranged cupboard lies a box of “you guessed it” stock. In honor of you, Ruhlman, I hearby promise to banish the use of all contraband chicken flavored liquid and forever pledge my undying love and allegiance to the venerable and honorable homemade stock.

  • Maggie


    You can freeze stock in zip-type bags. I freeze surplus stock in quart size bags with excellent results. Here is the method that I use. Pour finished stock into a 2 quart Pyrex-type bowl ( or any container) with a spout. Next, open a quart size freezer bag, and place the bag in a 4 cup size glass measuring cup. Pour 2 cups stock into bag and gently press out the air. Seal the bag and lay it flat on a baking sheet. Make sure you use a baking sheet with sides in case of a leak! Place in freezer…when they are frozen solid, you can stack them like bricks! I have a tiny freezer and this method saves a lot of space. Also…I’ve never had a bag leak…but if the bags are moved roughly about the freezer it could cause a puncture. This wouldn’t be a problem until you took it out to thaw. I thaw the bags in a shallow dish, just in case. Hope this is useful.

  • Phil

    Awesome post, Michael.

    Nothing says “The day after Thanksgiving” in my house like the smell of turkey stock simmering most of the day. Perhaps the best soups I’ve ever made have that as my base.

  • Kay

    But what if you hate your family? Wouldn’t a coupla bouillon cubes and some Mrs. Dash be more appropriate for them?

  • Hank

    Thanks, Maggie! That might work. I will have to carefully label them, as I am psychotic and have stocks made from rabbits, chickens, deer, wild boar, etc, etc. You get the picture.

    Still wondering if anyone pressure cans…

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @Bob delGrosso:

    “BTW, Why for goodness sake, is it a mistake to add garlic, onion, carrot and herbs to stock? Somebody?”

    Too effing funny, Bob — and a great question, too! 🙂

    IMO, and I don’t follow rules when it comes to cooking (I think rules, for the most part, and if and only if for the better, were born to be broken). And I hail from a culture whose previous generation (the one before my own), didn’t have the luxuries that many of us here would appear to have: namely, time, money and variety to indulge Stockology, if you will.

    To make a long story short, they — and I (and I do have the resources, but not the time, since busy is as busy does, and all the rest of that sh*t 😉 use garlic, onion, carrot and herbs in stock, and find nothing wrong with doing so.

    The first syllable of Ruhlman’s name, should have been a red flag of a clue, as to what his literary future would spell for him 🙂 And to his credit, his rules for stock would appear to be the equivalent of Pepin’s La technique, except they are for stock etc.

    And, again, with all due respect, indigenous cultures don’t have time for these rules when it comes to cooking. But, they have heart, honesty and a homage that is paid, whenever a native dish is made. That’s where I’m from, and that of which I am proud.

    It’s all contextual, but, rules are made to be broken, so break some other’s and make some of your own in the process (to be broken by someone else, of course!)


  • Gailsie

    Wow, timely topic.
    My husband decided he was making stock from the bones this year and has, in fact, deconstructed one turkey already. All day yesterday the house smelled yummy, my husband was purring away at the stove, all cares far, far away.
    I anticipate that our gravy will be fabulous. Not to mention all the other things we can make from the stock.

  • Kevin

    Good advice, as always. I just got scolded by a serious chef for not keeping more bones from a recent calf moose that entered my kitchen.

  • David Dadekian

    Mr. Ruhlman, thanks! Why in 10+ years of learning about cooking have I never read or heard that about aromats and cooking time? Always still learning! I love the pot in the oven idea, however, I usually do a couple of chickens at a time and bought a 16 qt. pot specifically for making lots of stock. I don’t know that I can get that pot in my oven (or if it would bow an oven rack or break my back). If it makes that much of a difference I could go back to smaller pots, if you advise it. Thanks again.

  • nondiregol

    Kay, I do hate my family. But I’m not going to poison them all on the same day—although my brother Fester has attempted it with some of his turkey experiments.

    I’ll go after them one by one; “try this partially opened moule si vous plais.” Or the famous “vongole degli morti.”

  • Skawt


    Thanks for confirming something that lux and I have been doing for the last 7 years – we take our picked-over carcass with roasted mirepoix in the cavity, quarter it, and then simmer it for a while. And we then do what Maggie suggested, which is to put 2 cups of stock into ziplock bags and freeze them. One 12lb bird is enough for a gallon of stock. Yay!

    Also, Bourdain made me do it. He’s evil, I tells ya!

  • ruhlman

    i’m so happy reading people talking about stock. and from leftovers. it’s a satisfying yield. a 2-3 pound roasted chix carcass will give you a quart of stock. i love that. a 12 pound turkey? a gallon. i remember turgoen saying to our class, after he made turkey consomme, “I’m never going back to chicken again.”

    –about roasting mirepoix, great for brown stocks, excellent, and they require 30-60 minutes to flavor stock.

    –veron, and if you haven’t been to veron’s excellent blog, pls click her link, i must say respectfully: no, it isn’t better.

    –yolanda! do it with the garlic! and onion! and carrot! and herbs! i asked my wife to pick up some extra necks and wings at the store today to do EXACTLY what you did today.

  • NRF

    I purchase organic, free range chicken parts from a butcher shop that sells only “ethically farmed” meats and poultry.

    Starting with about 15 pounds of meat and bones in two large stockpots, I heat slowly to simmer. When the water begins to circulate, I skim the muck then add aromatics and leave on low heat for some hours. Larger solids are strained out then the liquid is slowly poured through a fine sieve lined with small squares of cheese cloth. The filtering material is changed frequently.

    If high heat has been avoided, the resultant stock is reasonably clear. It goes into the refrigerator overnight to settle sediment and congeal fat. The stock is frozen in 500 ml containers that are thawed in the microwave whenever needed.

    I use this excellent stock in most every gravy, pan sauce or soup. Made in fairly large quantity, each batch lasts many weeks. I don’t find doing this inconvenient because one doesn’t have to pay much time or attention.

    There are two important factors. Don’t use Republican chicken – find tasty free range poultry. Secondly, keep the heat very low. I like the idea of using the oven as suggested in the article above.

  • Katie

    How long can I freeze the bones before I make stock? I’ve made stock before, but I’m going to several Thanksgiving dinners this week (not all on the same day, otherwise, I’d explode) and I want to steal the carcass from all, just for stock purposes. But I’ve only made stock ‘fresh’ — can you freeze the bones? Is that a dumb question? Forgive me if it is. In my head, I would like to think one can freeze the bones for a few weeks, roast them, and then make stock…but maybe not. Help?

  • Marlene

    I often freeze bones and carcasses to make stock later. I have a vacumn sealer which is useful for longer freezes, but if you wrap everything well, then put into ziplock bags, you should be able to go a couple of weeks to a month before you have to make your stock. Currently in my freezer are chicken, pork, beef and veal stocks. I’ve a turkey carcass in there which has been frozen for a couple of weeks and which I will defrost and make stock with this week. I usually pick up extra turkey wings and thighs to add to the stock pot as well.

  • Jen

    While I agree that many canned broths suck, there are some very decent organic free range broths out there (W. Foods carries) that are better than just adding flavorless water…

  • artnlit

    As someone who is a complete newbie in this area, I am pleased to say that I learn a great deal here, even if some of it is a bit over my head. Thanks Michael, for also explaining that one can use water – seriously. Oh and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and all here. Cheers, Bonnie (artnlit)

  • Claudia

    Michelle, congratulations on kicking your canned broth dependency – and for anyone else who’s managed to beat back the demons of, say, pre-peeled/sliced garlic, minced garlic in jars, etc., and those struggling to remember to prep their “meez” (mise en place). Bourdain and Ruhlman have made us better cooks. Happy TG, all.

  • mirinblue

    I often freeze bones from chickens, hams, turkeys, beef and save shrimp shells, lobster shells and other bits of ephemera to use in my stocks. While I try to use the bird carcasses fairly soon (couple of months) I have kept a ham bone for about 6 months! And a damn fine ham stock was the result!

    Bob delGrosso-thanks for the advice about the innards, I will cut the liver in half and saute the other half to chop into the dressing or gravy. We fight over the bits if you can believe it! Odd, but true!

    Michael-as we are addressing water as an ingredient in and of itself, can you give thoughts about the quality of the water? Many public sources are chemical laden and often well water can contain iron, sulfur, methane and more. Do you use filtered water only?

    To everyone here-Happy Thanksgiving and (stock making) to you and your loved ones.

  • veron

    Okay, michael, I’ll give good ole’ tap water a try again. I’m really curious about your stock chapter in the elements of cooking. Oh god, I’ve got a whole list of cookbooks waiting on my amazon wishlist and I think I’m going to need a new book case…

  • Jeff

    I just don’t believe that that water is better than canned or boxed stock (I use the Campbells Organic chicken stock which I think tastes ok), but I will try it just to make sure.

    What I tend to try and do since I am lazy is go to the Soup and Stock Market at the Milwaukee Public Market and buy stock from them and freeze it for later use. The quality is great and it doesn’t require any effort on my part.

    One of these days I will try to make my own.

  • Adele

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Okay, I admit to having a spatial reasoning problem, but I keep looking at my largest pot, looking at my oven and trying to figure out how I’d fit it in. Even if I take out one oven rack and put the other on the lowest rung, it’s an incredibly tight fit, and my next largest pot doesn’t seem big enough. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • Jennie/Tikka

    You know, for those of you fortunate enough to live within driving distance to a Bristol Farms – they do sell veal-duck demi-glace frozen in 8oz. quantities. Comes in SERIOUSLY handy! The brand is a recognizable one we all love: D’Artagnan. They also sell rendered duck fat, which I’ll be using liberally this Thursday!

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    For the Stockologists in the house — both “made” and in the process of being made:

    Of course, my stocks in class always tasted far better than my classmates’. No one could figure out how I coaxed such heaty flavor out of a few chicken bones, or made such wonderful fish fumet with fish racks and shrimp shells, all in the limited time available. Had my instructors given me a pat-down before class they might have learned my secret: two glassine envelopes of Minor’s chicken and lobster base inside my chef’s coat, for that little extra kick. They never figured it out (Bourdain, p. 38, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly).

  • Dana

    Okay, if you say tap water is better than any of the store-bought broth/stock out there, I trust you, and next time I will (deep breaths) use that instead. Don’t you need to add something, though, to make up for the lack of salt/seasoning??

  • Claudia


    You’re so right. Aside from D’Artagnan, Citeralla’s stocks and demis are fabulous and great, if you really can’t get the old stockpot out that week.

  • allie

    personally, I find swanson a little pricey unless it’s on sale, I usually go for the generic brand 🙂

    unfortunately, cooking for two doesn’t generally involve a lot of carcasses, and at present I have neither the time nor the freezer space for such an undertaking. perhaps someday…

  • Skawt


    Every time you roast a chicken, save the bones. Even the ones that have been gnawed on. Rinse them in wanter, put them in a ziplock bag, and freeze them until you’re ready to use them.

    Quick tip: chicken wings have an amazing amount of gelatin. Making stock from a bag full of saved wingtips make an excellent, glutinous stock. Since lux and I will make wings every couple of weeks, every few months we have a large supply available.

  • Skawt


    Yes, the 12-lb bird I was referring to was a turkey. I normally stuff it with a mirepoix of celery, onion and carrot, along with a dry rub as well as a compound butter under the breast skin. With all of the aromatics and seasoning in there, the only thing I need to do for stock is simply quarter it and dump it into a stock pot with water, simmer, skim off the gunk; then I bring it to room temp, put it in the fridge until the schmaltz (rendered fat) rises to the top (and save it for matzoh balls), then bag the rest and freeze it.

    Michael Symon has an interesting take on roasting a bird similar to mine, except that he cooks his mirepoix before stuffing it into the bird. So I’m considering something similar, and using fennel and leeks instead of celery. Should be interesting, although I don’t know when I will next have occasion to be cooking a big bird.

  • CammackTheCook

    I will be saving a fried turkey carcass AND a roasted turkey carcass to make two stocks. Any guesses on how they will differ? I will prepare them identically and let you all know-

  • Katie

    Thanks to those who replied about the freezing of the bones for stock purposes…I’m a good cook, but still a little ‘green’ when it comes to a lot of things…that said, I’ve got some great frozen bones in my freezer at this moment.

    Meanwhile, can we all groan for a moment about waking up far too early on Thanksgiving morning for cooking purposes. Ew. Why can’t dinner be at dinner time on this day…why must it be in the afternoon?! (end of rant…I just wanted to sleep in).

  • DJK

    Michael, for those of us in Cleveland, would you recommend the stock sold at The Souper Market? If their stock is as good as their soup, I’d think that might be a more practical option.

  • Knorr the Swiss

    You know Micheal, you seem like a nice guy, but I think you are getting a touch food snobby on us when you state “water is better than canned stock”. Are you nuts ? Are your tastebuds going mushy ? Or, are you now the “go to” guy when it comes to gravy making.

    I see your point about using cans or mixes. Not everyone has 4 hours or more to roast bones and make stock. Sometimes a can or packet will have to do. Don’t make it a federal crime to not make your own. Loose the snobbiness . I ‘ll bet you have a can or two lying around.

  • ruhlman

    knorr, you misunderstand. with regard to canned broth, I’m not saying make your own stock instead, i’m saying use water instead. i know everyone doesn’t have the time or inclination to make stock. What bothers me is the knne-jerk reaction to add badly flavored processed food to what could otherwise be a fine stock or soup.

    And yes, sometimes you do have to add a half onion and carrot to the pot to boost the flavor.

  • Frances Davey

    My opinion is that there is a lifestyle that fascilitates making stock. If you don’t roast stuff (we roast a chicken once or twice a week), you don’t have a leftover carcass to deal with. If you don’t have a leftover carcass or bones to deal with, you have to get some bones and roast them for the sole purpose of making stock. To me, that isn’t the point. It’s the using of everything that is particularly gratifying. And not for an inferior result (which some consider “leftovers” to be inferior or even useless), but a vastly superior one when compared to store-bought stocks.

    If you roast stuff AND use stock, to me it is common sense, not snobbery, to use the roasted bones to make stock. If you don’t have a lifestyle that lends itself to the process, you may be perfectly (and understandably) satisfied with store-bought stock. In our house, we like the idea of doing as much as we can on our own. It just seems like the sensible thing to do.

  • Keri

    DJK – I have used the Souper Market veal stock quite often. I like it a lot and usually have a half gallon or so in my freezer. Great shortcut. I make my own chicken stock regularly, but almost never have stuff for the veal stock.

    I haven’t tried the vegetable yet, but might on my next trip. FYI … the stock is also sold frozen at Heinens sometimes.

  • mlinkin

    I couldn’t agree with this topic more! My teenage daughter wanted to help plan the menu for Thanksgiving this year and just being the three of us, she said let’s just do a roast chicken (not that she likes or would even eat it). Almost before she got those words out of her mouth she screamed – “NO, wait, without a turkey there won’t be any turkey stock for me.”

    This kid doesn’t eat turkey for the most part but she would eat the whole pot of turkey stock if I didn’t stop her – she starts on it just a couple of hours in before it is even really stock. She’s been eating the stock all day and when she went to leave to go to a friend’s house to spend the night, I had to stop her from taking a thermos of it with her.

    I made one pot with the extra necks I picked up last night and some turkey drumsticks I had gotten last month for less than 3/$2 that I simply roasted with salt & pepper then removed the meat and added to the pot.

    Second pot of stock from the actual turkey is on now. I save everything to make all kinds of stocks but turkey stock is PURE GOLD as we call it around our house. Not to mention how wonderful it makes the house smell.

  • Michelle

    I’ve got a really stupid question: this year we had a really wonderful smoked turkey (and I assume this will make good stock) but my question pertains to the actual carcass itself and what is still attached, are you supposed to clean the bones entirely, or is it okay to leave little bits of meat and fat still attached? And also there is a large amount of smoky skin, which seems dreadful to waist, do I add it to the stock too?

  • Skawt


    Leave those bits of meat and fat on. Those will add flavor to the stock. You can then cool the stock in the fridge after you strain it, and then scrape off the solidified fat that rises to the top.

  • Melody

    See, now, I’d think that one wouldn’t want to include the skin from a smoked bird in a stock pot? My high-heat bird from two years ago filled the house with smoke and was fabulous on it’s own, but the gravy made from the drippings sucked, tasted like that noxious liquid smoke crap.

    It always amazes me when I hear the opinion that only pro chefs and foodies make their own stock. It’s easier than making a good hard-boiled egg, fer cryin’ out loud. I, my family and just about all of my friends have always made it, and we’re just normal midwesterners – hotdish people. What a world.

  • Melody

    See, now, I’d think that one wouldn’t want to include the skin from a smoked bird in a stock pot? My high-heat bird from two years ago filled the house with smoke and was fabulous on it’s own, but the gravy made from the drippings sucked, tasted like that noxious liquid smoke crap.

    It always amazes me when I hear the opinion that only pro chefs and foodies make their own stock. It’s easier than making a good hard-boiled egg, fer cryin’ out loud. I, my family and just about all of my friends have always made it, and we’re just normal midwesterners – hotdish people. What a world.

  • Tom

    Here’s a question for anyone who wants to answer from someone inexperienced at making stock. I cooked my turkey stuffed with herbs, lemon and garlic. When I put the carcass in water to make the stock, should I take all of those out?

  • jaye joseph

    I’ve also got a smoked bird from this year. I’m about to give smoked turkey stock a shot using Ruhlman’s method. I was thinking that a smokey-chipolte type soup would be great with this. Now I’m not so sure about using any of the skin. Of course, I think the only skin is on the wings so stripping it shouldn’t be too tough.

  • Jerm

    Thanks for the post, and the blog. Been thinking about this post a lot over the last few days. We didn’t get to roast our own turkey this year (cry), maybe I should go see if there are any on sale today… Anyway, just wanted to stress that while water may be better, it has to be drinkable. I had a risotto a few months back that someone made with local water, and the slightly brackish quality of the the water when undiluted became a retch inducing mess when concentrated.

  • JD

    Tom – Just remember that whatever goes into the stock pot will be present in the final product. If you leave the lemons in I think that your stock will have a fairly narrow band of possible uses.

    My pots are in the oven now, though, and it’s starting to smell delicious…

  • Michelle

    I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one out there with a smoked bird this year. That smokey/chipotle sounds great. My favorite flavors! I’ll have to try that one! Let me know if you come across a good recipe, Jaye.

  • evil chef mom

    I just finished my stock. It tastes great and the house smells wonderful. My kids thought I was crazy when I started skimming the stock this afternoon but by the end they were helping me chop the onions,celery, and carrots. Who knew making stock would make the whole family come together?

  • Stock Newbie

    When do you add salt to the stock? Mine (second batch I’ve ever made) is chilling in the fridge, and it tastes kind of bland. Was I supposed to salt it long ago? Can it be saved? Any guidelines on how to add salt, such as 1/2 tsp. at a time? Thanks.