Here's the Genius Reason to Keep All the Bones from Christmas Dinner
Whether you serve turkey or a standing prime rib roast for your Christmas dinner, when the festivities are done, it is time to make stock. Sure, you can make a basic turkey soup or beef barley with those bones (and carcass), but I prefer to think a bit further into the future.
Because the one thing that is universally true is that Christmas roasts need gravy, and gravy needs stock, and making the stock is the only really time-consuming part of making gravy. Many of us often end up relying on store-bought stock for our gravy making, which is fine, but a bit uninspired.
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By making and freezing stock from this year's holiday carcasses, you will already have the building blocks for next year's delicious gravy! Since we tend to go turkey for both meals, I use this year's Christmas turkey stock for next year's Thanksgiving gravy, and then make stock from the Thanksgiving carcass to use for Christmas, and then the cycle repeats.
How to make next year's stock from this year's holiday turkey
For me, I keep my other stock ingredients simple: carrot, celery, onion. I save parsley stems from all the garnish from the holiday meal which are great in stock, plus a bay leaf or two.
Here's all you have to do:
1. Place all ingredients plus the bones and carcass in a large stock pot and add six quarts of cold water.
2. Heat over low heat for 3-4 hours until you have a rich stock.
3. Strain and return to the pan over high heat and reduce by half to make a concentrated stock that is easier to store.
4. Cool to room temp, then chill overnight in the fridge before freezing in pint containers. Label your containers so you don't confuse it with any other homemade stocks you've got on ice!
Pro tip: I don't defat my stock, since I like to be able to use that fat to make the roux for the gravy, and since it floats to the top, it is easy to remove from the frozen stock before using. But you can always defat if you prefer.
Another pro tip: If you want to get even easier, and not store the carcass or bones in an already stuffed to the max fridge full of leftovers, you can go the slow cooker route. After your dinner, while you are cleaning up, dump the carcass and aromatics in your slow cooker, fill with cold water, and set to low. By the time you come down for breakfast, you'll have rich stock ready for straining, and then you can either reduce or not as you choose. Talk about a belated Christmas gift!