Mise en place for turkey stock/gravy. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

It’s Friday in NYC, a week before Thanksgiving, and I’m concluding last leg of what seems a forever road trip, concluding at Miami Book Fair tomorrow (I’m told I was on NPR Morning Edition today but haven’t heard and will be on The Chew on Tuesday cooking kreplach with my pal Michael Symon). Per our tradition we’ll be driving to the Hudson Valley to celebrate Thanksgiving with Donna’s big and growing family—something like 21 adults, a few teenagers, and a few great grand-kids. Donna volunteered me for the gravy because, gravy is a no-brainer, I love making stock, and frozen, it will travel well. (Recipes for stock and Friday Cocktail below.)

A no-brainer if you make excellent turkey stock now! I’ll be doubling or tripling the below recipe this year. When I’m home I’ll be roasting drumsticks, wings, and necks. (I read in the Times that the venerable Jacques Pépin picks the meat off the neck of the turkey and adds it to the gravy. I might try that this year.) Roasting them will give your stock a nice flavor. All that golden brown roasted skin above? Equals flavor.

I’ll take enough meat off the drumstick for dinner, then throw the bones into the biggest pot I own, and put it in a low oven overnight. The following day, I’ll remove the bones (12 hours in hot but not simmering water should do the trick!), add the vegetables and aromatics, and cook them, again without a bubble but with the pot too hot to hold your hand against, for another couple hours. I’ll then strain the stock through a basket strainer and, because it’s cold here, I’ll chill it outside, remove the fat, then strain it through one of my reusable All-Strain straining cloths, so that it’s very clean on the palate. (All that will remain is to thicken it with a turkey fat–based roux while the turkey rests. I’ll post on that next week.)

I’ll taste it. I may reduce it further but usually it’s pretty good by now. I happen to have some veal stock on hand from another project. I’ll add that because veal stock puts everything over the top.

I’m unaccountably lucky to be able to work from home, so this is easy for me to do today while I’m working. But the weekend is here, so if you plan ahead, pick up some turkey bones and roast them over the weekend, then cover them with water and put them in an oven at 200°F or below overnight. That’s how great gravy begins.

And it’s Friday, and cold, so maybe a hot TurkShot will be an end-of-week libation.

Easy Turkey Stock

Yield: 2 quarts stock

  • 2 large turkey drumsticks
  • 2 large turkey wings
  • 2 Spanish onion, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut in pieces
  • 4 celery ribs, cut in pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, cracked beneath a pan or with a mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • fresh parsley and thyme (optional)
  1. Roast the turkey pieces (you should have 5–6 pounds/2–3 kilos) in a hot oven, 425°F/218°C at least, till it looks delicious. Scatter the onion, carrot, and celery in the same pan, and take them out when you take out the turkey. Don’t let the veg burn. (You can cut the meat off the bones for dinner if you wish; but the meat will add lots of flavor to the stock.)
  2. Put the turkey bones in a big pot and cover them completely with water, 3–4 quarts/liters, and put the pot over high heat. Turn your oven to 180°–200°F/80°–90°C. When the water comes to a simmer, put the pot in the oven for 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (if you don’t have enough room, remove the turkey bones—they will have cooked out by now). Bring to a simmer, then reduce the temperature to low and cook for another hour or so. Strain into a clean pot. Cool, then refrigerate.
  4. Reserve any fat that’s congealed on top for the roux on Thanksgiving day. Reduce the stock to 1 1/2 to 2 quarts/liters if it’s not already at that level.


The Friday cocktail hour recipe is a savory drink.


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces turkey stock
  • splash Worcestershire
  • splash Sriracha (optional for heat)
  • twist of lemon

Serve hot.

To serve this turkey stock–based cocktail cold, add 2 ounces tomato juice, use Sriracha or Tabasco for heat, and serve over ice.

If you liked this post on turkey stock, check out these other links:

© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.