Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Stock Up! #ThanksgivingLeftovers #Recipe by @Leslie Karst

So you've roasted a beautiful bird for Thanksgiving, and now you have this enormous turkey carcass sitting in your fridge. My advice? Don't toss out the bones once you've cut off and frozen all that extra meat--make stock! Although it is fairly time-consuming, it's not at all difficult, and you'll be glad to have all that luscious stock in your freezer to use for months to come.

And it will be WAY better than most stocks you buy at the grocery store.

So here's a guide for stock-making, based on what I learned as a culinary arts student, lo those many years ago.

The first step (if you don't have a Thanksgiving turkey carcass on hand), is to save all the bones you use until you have enough to make it worth your while to make a batch of stock. If I’m cutting a bird up into separate pieces, I save the backs and giblets. And if we have a whole roast chicken, I save the carcass afterwards. Even when we eat the individual pieces, I save the bones left on the plates—it’s gonna be cooked for a long time, for heaven’s sake—after dinner. (I sometimes have to admonish helpful dinner party guests not to throw the bones into the garbage.)

I keep a plastic bag in the freezer for the bones, into which I add more as I acquire them. When I have enough for a batch of stock—and a free morning or afternoon—I get to work. (Note that this guide works for any poultry bones, be they turkey, chicken, or duck. And hey, if you have any pork or beef bones sitting around, throw them in, too!)

Basic Stock Method


poultry bones, either raw or cooked

chopped onions, carrots, and celery


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Take your bag of backs, bones, and giblets out of the freezer and pour them into a large roasting pan and let them defrost for about an hour. 

Meanwhile, chop up your mirepoix: coarsely chopped onions, carrots and celery. Most recipes call for 50% onion, and 25% each for the carrots and celery, but feel free to use whatever proportion you like. The more carrots you have, the more golden-orange your stock will be.

For the chicken stock pictured here, I used about a cup of each, which I poured on top of about 2 quarts loosely-packed chicken backs and bones. (Note that the exact amounts aren't important; a ratio of around 4:1, bones-to-veg is about right.)

Place the pan in the oven and check it every 10 minutes or so for browning. As the top layer browns, turn the bones and mirepoix with a spatula, so that other parts can brown. After about a half hour, they should be ready for the stock pot:

Dump the bones and veggies into a large stock pot, then pour a cup of water into the roasting pan. Using a spatula, scrape up as much of the bits stuck to the bottom as you can and pour all this into the stock pot over the bones.

Next, pour cold water over the bones to cover them by a couple inches:

not enough water

the right amount of water

Notice how brown the stock already is, from roasting the bones first. Yum!

Bring the stock up to a boil, then turn the heat down as low as possible and let it simmer, periodically skimming off any scum that rises to the top:

Let it simmer, uncovered, for three or four hours. You can poke down bones that are floating to the top, but try not to stir it too much, as this results in a cloudy stock.

Add more water as needed, to keep the bones covered in liquid.

Turn off the heat and let the stock cool, then strain the stock from the bones. It’s easiest if you take out most of the bones first with a large slotted spoon or tongs, and then pour the stock through a sieve. (Don’t use a chinois, as the bones can rip the fine mesh of this expensive variety of sieve.)

If you have the time and inclination, after the stock has been strained pull any remaining meat off the bones and save it for taco filling or some similar use. The meat doesn’t have a lot of flavor left after the long simmering (that’s the point—the flavor is supposed to transfer to the broth), but it works fine if you add a lot of seasoning (e.g., garlic, chili, cumin) and fry it up in oil. I really hate to waste food, you see; I learned this from my Mom, who grew up during the Great Depression.

Look at the beautiful color the stock has when it’s done (and it had a deep, rich flavor too):

Pour the cooled stock into freezer containers (I use old cottage cheese and yogurt containers), and keep frozen until needed:

frozen stock

You can see that there’s a layer of fat on top. It’s easy to scrape off once frozen, and can either be thrown away, or used for frying something (guess which I do).

You can also freeze the stock in zip-lock bags. Lie them down in a roasting pan until they’re frozen, and then they can be stored in the freezer standing up.

Alternatively, instead of freezing the stock, you can reduce it even further until it coats a spoon—at which point it’s called glace de viande (“meat glaze”) —and freeze it in ice cube trays, for later use in sauces and stir fries.

🌱  🐓  🌿


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:

“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)


Such a deal! The Lefty Award-nominated Murder from Scratch is a Kindle Deal of the Month, for only $1.99 through the entire month of November! 

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are also available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!