Those of you who read my recipe blog know that I don’t write much about technique. As a matter of fact, I typically assume you already know how to cook when I publish my recipes, and often just lay out a list of ingredients. Last night, my friend Boyd Marts asked me about making lots of gravy, and that bit of advice-giving led me to this post. Stock is something people just don’t make enough, and they should. It’s easy as sin, and in the case of your turkey dinner, an essential component. Whenever I clean vegetables, I put the trimmings in the freezer so they are on the ready for the next batch of stock.I recently learned to add onion skins to stock. They bring more onion flavor and make stock an appealing golden hue.
So why is stock so important today, the day before Thanksgiving? You’re going to use it for two things tomorrow: moistening the stuffing, and making the gravy. By making it today, you get ahead of the busy day tomorrow, and the main ingredient in it is the vegetable trim from making your stuffing, so you’ll get those veg all ready to go as well. The stock pictured above is everything I cut up today: onion, fennel, shallot and celery trimmings, and the turkey neck. I’ll prep my fresh herbs for the biscuits and the stuffing later today, and those stems will go in as well. I also add whole black peppercorns. You can put the turkey organs in there as well, but I’d skip the kidneys for the obvious reasons.
So—why do stock in a crock pot? Simple. You can ignore it all day, and it’s guaranteed to come out perfect. The low heat gently extracts the flavor from your ingredients, and it will be crystal-clear. When you make stock on the stovetop, it can accidentally get hotter than boiling, which releases proteins in meat, and makes the stock both look and taste muddy. (The fix, which is a bother, can be found here.) By making it in the crock pot, you’re assured a clear stock.