Illustration by Pierre Lamielle

Illustration by Pierre Lamielle

At a reader’s request I’m reposting on how to make perfect stock, by slow cooking it in the oven.  It’s a very low-maintenance, easy way to make stock—just stick it in a low oven and forget about it. I’d meant to post on Friday but the weekend has gotten away from me, and now most people have either discarded their carcass (sadly) or put it to use.  But there may be a carcass or two hanging around.  Also, since this method works with a chicken carcass as well, any time of the year, and because Pierre sent me two turkey illustrations, better late than never! (Pierre has just published a funny, fun, thoroughly unique cookbook, called Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook.  Congrats Pierre, excellent work!)

Turkey Stock: Oven Method

Put all the turkey bones in a pot. The more meat left on them the more flavor your stock will have. You may want to break them apart so that they fit more efficiently in the pot. Cover them with an inch or two of water. Put the pot in the oven and turn the oven to below 200 degrees (180 degrees is best). Leave them in the oven, uncovered, for at least 8 hours and as many as 16 (I don’t think you can over cook this stuff; beef bones, you can, the stock can get overly boney).  If you have an enormous pot of water and bones, you may want to leave bring it to a simmer, and then put it in the oven.  Remove the stock from the oven and add to the pot:

2 large Spanish onions, cut up

4 large carrots, cut up

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon pepper corns, cracked with a s saute pan (optional)

5 or 6 cloves of garlic (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

several sprigs fresh parsley and thyme (optional)

Bring to a simmer on the stove top, then turn the burner to low and cook for an hour on the stove top, or return the pot to the oven for a few more hours.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or once through any kind of strainer, then again through kitchen cloth.  Chill, remove the fat from the top.  Freeze in pint deli cups.  Or make the following very easy soup!

Turkey and Leek Soup

This is a simple soup that shows how easy good food is when you have some fresh stock around. Leeks make everything better!  Use the leek tops in your stock if you have them; use only white and pale green part of the leek in your soup.

3 or 4 leeks well-cleaned root end and dark leaves discarded, halved and cut into half-slices.

2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

6 cups turkey stock

2 cups left over turkey, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups croutons (preferable homemade, sauteed in butter or olive oil till crispy)

Saute the leeks in butter over medium low heat until very tender, 30 to 45 minutes.  Season them with a three finger pinch of salt (or two). Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey and bring it back to a simmer.  Serve garnished with croutons.

Serves 4 to 6

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22 Wonderful responses to “Turkey Stock: Oven Method”

  • Natalie Sztern

    Oh I love this new look…it’s like opening a Christmas present or in my case Hanukah…!! I hope we don’t lose Donna’s pictures…tho I doubt that.

    As for turkey gravy: I have been doing a simple survey of the people I know and not a one does a turkey gravy (maybe its a Canadian thing) BUT everyone does a stock…

  • tom hirschfeld

    I used to make stock this way until recently. I now use a pressure cooker. One hour and it is done. I was skeptical at first, I always thought gentle simmer for hours was the only way to get a clear stock, but the stock is crystal clear. Then when done I can the stock in the same pressure cooker. Trying to get away from plastic so glass jars are great and they store in the pantry. No more falling out of the freezer smashing ones toes. Anyway just and alternative.

  • JB in San Diego

    I used this super-simple method with 4 leftover carcasses from a church dinner – it took up three pots on the stove. I added the aromatics (celery, carrots, etc) just before the last hour in the oven. But then after straining it I decided to reduce the volume – so I boiled it for over an hour. I wonder if I lost a lot of my aromatic flavor to evaporation? Maybe I’ll make the soup and find out.

  • Caitlin

    Since reading Essentials, I have been making my chicken stock via the oven and love it, so made turkey stock this weekend with this method too. And then I went the tortilla soup recipe, but I too waited until today to post … oops!

    Oh, and Ann, if Michael doesn’t respond first – it’s no lid. One time I accidentally covered it, and my 4 hours were a waste – with no evaporation, not much happened in there…

    Love the new look!

  • MattG

    This year, I premade my stock like this based on the previous post that described the approach It not only relieved stress by allowing me to make gravy at my leisure, it saved me when I miscommunicated directions to a helper meant I didn’t have any other juices to use!

  • Susie Godsey

    Tried to check out new format last night and couldn’t…”no server” or something. Anyway just an FYI…Good Looking change…much easier to read and also easier on the eyes…not so bright!

    Like Ratio! Now I guess I have to get your other damn book!

    Good job.

  • Chuck

    We got a slow cooker one year for Christmas. It is the perfect stock maker. Definitely uses less energy than the oven. You’d be amazed at the amount of gelatin in a chicken stock after twenty hours in the crock pot.

  • dsi r4

    I just love soup. Looks so delicious and tasty. I definitely going to try this. Its mouthwatering recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kristine

    I made stock this way last night for gravy to make Turkey Pot Pie. Woke up this morning and it smelled liked I’d roasted a turkey. Never has my stove top stock smelled this good. And I hadn’t even added the aromatics yet. Thanks so much for the tip.

  • Peggy

    Three days. My turkey stock sits in the oven at 190° for three days. I don’t add the vegetables until the last 24 hours, and the herbs until the last 4. I do add the feet once they’ve been cleaned. By the end of the third day, there is no connective tissue left, it has been dissolved into the stock. Once it is cooled, the stock is more like jello than soup, which testifies to the collagen and gelatin in the final product. Medicinally, there’s just nothing better for aching joints.

  • Jan

    Next time I’m in a house at holiday time, I will definitely try this route. Ilive on a sailboat in the tropics, so oven time is limited to an occasional pie. I did really appreciate the encouragement to go ahead and make stock a day or 2 before the big day. Like another reader, I did it in a pressure cooker. While it was not a perfect stock, it made a wonderful gravy and my husband was thrilled about that. So thanks for the nudge!

  • Mike

    Michael,
    My wife and I made soup from the carcasses of two turkeys l/o from Thanksgiving. We both noticed a distinctive and not agreeable odor as we prepared the stock, then soup. She did the original dinner and initial work on the soup prep, so we weren’t on this together til I left some of the finished soup for her last night, with an urgent note to taste it before taking it to work for lunch. This morning she tasted and, in a head-slap moment, recalled we had a problem last year with a heavy, somewhat “salt” (not table salt) taste in the same situation. I realize that water (and perhaps salty solutions) are injected into some birds, and some are brined. The taste doesn’t seem to be ordinary salt. (We are both somewhat chemlab trained and realize there are “salts” other than NaCl) Some birds are frozen by immersion in propylene glycol solution (non-toxic anti freeze) and I suppose this could be the culprit. We are both quite experienced at broths and have only encountered this issue in the last few years; Kosher, frozen and fresh birds. Have you heard of anything like this?

  • Christine

    Happy Holidays!
    I’m new to your site. In fact I just found you in October. The great writing, yummy recipies and beautiful photography made me “favorite” your site almost instantly. So, here’s the however…

    While the new layout of your site is very user-friendly, I feel the new look does not showcase food or photog favorably. I’m a graphic artist and I have to say, your original colors were much richer and more food/photo friendly. The overall sepia tone/gray is a downer. Sorry for the harsh comments. Thank you for all you do.

  • John Jezl

    I remembered this tip from last year. While I didn’t make dinner this year (and dad always makes turkey soup with the carcass), I did take advantage of the prices and got at “fresh” unbrined turkey and made tart cherry turkey sausage and herb brined smoked turkey breast from Charcuterie. Once I stripped the meat from the carcass, I roasted it off and made stock out of it.

    Two questions…

    I’ve just started pressure canning stocks (though I still use the oven method for making them as opposed to pressure cooking them). Should I expect any flavor degradation in the finished product vs. freezing?

    Also, I noticed a 200 degree oven was recommended. I keep a thermometer in my stock to maintain it at 190 degrees and find that I need to set the oven closer to 225-250 degrees to keep the stock from dropping in temp. Does this make sense or do I just have a lousy oven that is completely inaccurate at low temperatures? (well, I actually do have a lousy oven that’s inaccurate at ALL temperatures, but not sure if that’s the real cause here)

  • Love&Sandwiches

    I LOVE the illustration! It makes me want to roast a turkey all over again just so I can have a party in my pot with the carrots and onions! Yum! Where can I find a copy of Pierre’s book?

  • Veronica

    This is the best stock I’ve ever made. I’ve made stock with carcasses before but they didn’t have this much flavor. This is the only method I will use to make stock from now on. Thank you, Mr. Ruhlman, for sharing this!

  • Terry

    Hi Michael, thanks for the recipe. Can you explain why you don’t add the aromats from the start? The answer may well be in your Elements of Cooking, but I moved house and my books are still in boxes…

    cheers, Terry

  • jackiecat

    Sadly, my oven couldn’t hold the lower temp! It’s right on according to an oven thermometer for the higher temps, but when I checked it after an over night cooking of the stock, the stock was just body temp. Tossed it! Too sad!

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