Mmmmmeat jello. Mmmmmmm.
So. Regular readers are aware that I have recently read and reviewed Michale Ruhlman's new book, the Elements of Cooking. In the first chapter, the subject of stock is dealt with. Having worked in restaurants where we cooked veal stock seemingly nonstop, I was pretty familiar with the basic principles; I've made my fair share of stock over the years, but it had never occurred to me to cook the stock in the oven, until I read Elements. But it did make sense - the heat would be even and the stock would never boil, first of all. When we were getting ready to put our Thanksgiving turkey in the pot for stock-making, I said to Husband that I felt I had a moral obligation to my readers to test the Ruhlman method, and cook the stock in the oven. He looked skeptical, but acquiesced.
And so, into a 16 quart stock pot went the carcass (with only the leftover aromatics which had been stuffed in its cavity for roasting) and enough water to cover, and into a 180 degree oven went the stock pot. For 10 hours. After which time I chopped up some leftover celery, a big onion, and a head of garlic and threw those into the pot (we were out of carrots). I added a few peppercorns and the stock continued for another hour and a half (the Ruhlman method only adds aromatics for the last hour of cooking). I then strained the stock (the hardest part of the process) into a smaller stock pot (it made about 8-10 quarts). Now it was my turn to be skeptical. The stock looked pale, and the turkey carcass looked fresh - usually the stock and aromatics look as though they have been depleted, but these ingredients looked as though they could take another turn with a fresh batch of water. But I had to go to work, so I put the strained stock in the fridge and left.
When I got home, I was planning to strain the stock through a paper filter, when I found quite a surprise. As I carefully took the stock from the fridge (I had a nightmare where I spilled it everywhere), I noticed the stock was jiggling. This is stock. Good stock jiggles. See the surface, with reflection:
So, why does good poultry stock jiggle? because you have extracted lots of collagen and goodness from the bones; this provides unparalleled richness and mouth feel. Yum. The only drawback was I had to warm the stock to ungelatinize it before I could strain it again.
We turned the first quart of stock into a really, really amazing soup (yes, I'll give you the recipe this week) and the rest of it is going into the freezer where it will certainly find its way into risotto over the next few weeks.
So, here is my advice to you: make some stock. Husband and I are fond of tossing all of our chicken carcasses into the freezer, and then when we have 5 or so accumulated, we turn them into stock. All future birds will definitely be stockified using this method. (here's another little tip - we like to add at least one carcass from a Weiland's smoked chicken, it just adds that certain something).
Did you try Ruhlman's method - or any other - for your turkey stock this year? How were your experiences?