I love, love, love to make my own homemade Chicken or Turkey Broth. For years, I made my own then I went through a period of time when I just stopped. A visit to my daughter’s house reminded me what a difference my homemade stock makes. Here’s my recipe for Best Turkey Broth, and it’s the same recipe I use for my Chicken Stock, too.
I still don’t mind “cheating” a bit here and there with a boxed broth or maybe a little Better Than Buillion, but there are some recipes I wouldn’t even consider making without my homemade Best Turkey Broth, whether it’s made with turkey or chicken. Hello, my Chicken or Turkey Noodle Soup and Pho Ga, Vietnamese Chicken Soup! It really doesn’t matter what you’re making, though, homemade chicken broth always makes it better.
About Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth:
I’m pretty sure I originally “stole” this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and one of their posts for using up a turkey carcass. I’ve altered it a lot over the years and kind of made it my “own” as they say. First of all, I use the same recipe whether I’m making Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth.
The resulting broth for either turkey or chicken is really spot on perfect. It’s just a beautiful thing. One taste will convince you! As a matter of fact, I was at a store not too long ago and they had someone passing out samples of a new organic chicken stock, bone broth they called it. I took a sip. Ever taste something so bad that your face just crumples up and you’re throat closes up and you’re like eehhheuuwaa and you want to spit it out?
What little dignity I had (and those that know me know that’s not much, lol) prevented me and I was glad I only took the tiniest of sips to start with. Not only did it not taste like chicken at all, what taste it had was awful. And there are some decent stocks and broths out there, and I’m grateful for them because I can’t make every drop I use. But this recipe is a good start.
Which brings me to another point – I feel good knowing that what I’m making or serving doesn’t have a lot of additives or strange ingredients. Ever looked at the ingredients in any store bought stock? Yeah, I know, right! Making your own stock will help you avoid a whole host of strange ingredients!
Making Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth:
There are a few key things that make Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth the best! And one thing I do isn’t in the actual recipe. I think a lot of “frugal” people do this, and it isn’t just about frugality because it’s not a huge money saver. I save the peels of onions, carrots, and the tops and bottoms (if the bottoms are in good shape) of celery along with any little bits and pieces of those vegetables that I don’t add to other dishes just for cosmetic reasons. I keep them in the fridge if I’m making the stock that week or in a Ziploc in the freezer if I’m using later.
Why these bits and pieces work so much better to flavor your stock than just a few veggies added to the stock is that they’re already broken down into smaller pieces. And that adds so much more flavor than you’d ever guess, along with a fantastic color. The small veggie pieces also float on top of the broth as the broth bubbles through – they naturally clarify the broth, much like consomme is clarified by egg whites.
As far as the wine, sometimes I add it, sometimes I don’t. The acidity in the wine is supposed to help break down the bones and marrow, and I generally add it only if I have leftover wine. Sometimes I add just a hint of vinegar or lemon instead. A little bit of acidity in this soup isn’t just for their chemical use to help break down the bones and marrow; a touch of acidity brightens up the soup.
Honestly, I’m never sure if bay leaves actually help flavor this soup or not, but I live in Minnesota so I don’t have access to fresh. I just dutifully add it. What does make a big difference is the parsley and either thyme or marjoram (marjoram is always my first choice: it’s magical) and the eight peppercorns. Why eight? I dunno. That’s just what I use.
Variations on Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth:
Depending on my mood, I might roast the chicken or turkey carcass to get a really deep, rich broth for my Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth. Roast at 450 degrees F. for about 40 to 45 minutes until browned, turning once and watching closely towards the end of the cooking time.
This is a weird one, I know: If your family, like mine, doesn’t eat the chicken wings when you have fried chicken, toss them in the freezer and add one or two to your broth as you make it. It doesn’t take much. Years after I discovered how good this makes the broth taste, I read in an old French cookbook a technique that started chicken stock with a bit of roux (flour fried in fat.) I’m assuming my chicken wing does much the same thing.
I absolutely love the flavor that a turnip or rutabaga adds to my homemade Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth. If I have one on hand, I absolutely toss it in. It brings a note of deep rich flavor and adds a wonderful color.
Trouble Shooting Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth:
I’ve been asked a few questions about making Best Chicken or Turkey Broth over the years. One is about flavor and the bottom line, for the best flavor, simmer for as long as you are able (within reason) and two to three hours is kind of a minimum. I’ll simmer it for about six hours if I’m around the house. And even more importantly don’t boil your broth! Just bring it up to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer immediately. Boiling will harden the marrow inside the bones and make it hard to extract.
The other concern is gelling. Some people are concerned when they see the soup gel in the fridge because they’ve never seen or made homemade soup. It’s all the collagen and it’s supposed to be that way. Your soup will turn back into liquid as it heats back up. If your soup doesn’t gel, or isn’t rich with at least some body, you’ve either boiled it too hard or not simmered it long enough.
Saving Time & Money on Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth:
Making your own broth really is a money-saving proposition in the long run, especially if you’re using any veggie scraps you’ve saved up, and best of all, it eliminates waste in the kitchen. And why not use what you’ve paid for? I also save the stems of my parsley in a Ziploc in the freezer and use them in my Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth when I don’t have fresh readily available.
It can be surprising how much meat can be on a chicken or a turkey carcass. Sometimes I’ll start the stock, then when the chicken or turkey is loose enough to easily “pick” I’ll scoop the chicken pieces out and remove as much as I can. That way the meat isn’t cooked to death in the long-simmered stock. It can go back in a soup if you’re making one or in a casserole if there’s enough. The bones go back in the broth to continue to simmer away.
I’m old, often tired, and I find sometimes it’s just easier to make the Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth in a two-part process. I’ll simmer it away, give it a strain and refrigerate it, along with meat or bones I need to pick until the next day. It’s a simple process to defat the soup after the fat rises to the top and thickens from the cold and the chicken is so much easier to handle once it’s cold. Save the chicken fat in a jar in the fridge. It’s most commonly called Schmaltz and is fantastic to saute potatoes or latkes.
Best Turkey Broth or Chicken Broth
- 1 turkey or chicken carcass, break into pieces to fit pot
- water to cover by 2 inches
- 1 large onion, halved
- 1 large carrot, broken
- 1 stalk celery, in pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 cups dry white wine or two tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 black peppercorns
- 5 sprigs parsley
- 5 sprigs fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
Bring all ingredients except parsley & thyme (or marjoram) to a boil in a 12-quart stockpot over medium-high heat, then immediately turn down to a bare simmer. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for at least two to three hours and up to six; look for a few bubbles to slowly rise to the surface every now and then.
If you have used the vegetable trimmings (see note) instead of or in addition to whole veggies, there will be no need to skim the broth. If not, skim any foam as it rises to the surface.
If there is a lot of meat left on the carcass you’d like to use, pull bones out as soon as the meat has softened enough to easily remove from the bones, usually about 45 minutes to an hour into the cooking process. Remove the meat and refrigerate it. Replace the bones and continue to simmer.
Add parsley and thyme (or marjoram) about at about two hours before you plan to stop cooking then continue to simmer till stock is rich and flavorful, about 2 hours longer. When finished, strain stock. Cool stock about 20 minutes, skim fat from surface. Use as a base for soup or portion and freeze.
- There is no salt in this broth, add to taste when finished.
- Using vegetable trimmings: save up the trimmings from any carrots, celery, and onion (skins and all) and use them to make a “raft” across the top of the soup. They will naturally clarify the soup.
- Watch the soup for liquid level, especially when simmering a long time.
- Safety: If you make large amounts of stock, cool it quickly by putting in smaller containers in the fridge, uncovered, until chilled. Metal bowls help the heat dissipates faster.
- Broth keeps well for about three to four days. If you haven’t used it or frozen it by then and it still seems fresh, bring it to a rolling boil before using.
If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use leftover turkey or chicken, be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Turkey. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Ham, too.