Serves 6 quarts
Here is our All-Purpose Turkey Broth– my mother’s original with my adjustments. You can use it in many recipes, especially with long-cooking pasta sauces and main course roasts and braises, as well as for all kinds of satisfying soups.
- 8 quarts cold water
- 3 pounds turkey wings (or turkey legs or chicken backs and wings)
- 4 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, cut in 1-inch lengths (about 5 cups)
- 4 big celery stalks with leaves washed, trimmed, and cut in 1-inch lengths (about 4 cups)
- 1 large onion (or several smaller ones) peeled and cut in 1-inch length (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium leek, rinsed thoroughly, trimeed, cut in 1-inch lengths (about 2 cups)
- 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 fresh plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), rinsed but left whole
- A handful of fresh Italian parsley (6 to 8 long stems with lots of leaves, left whole)
- 1 or 2 pieces (about 2 ounces) rind of Pamigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, if available, scraped and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 scant tablespoon kosher salt
For this recipe you will need a wire sieve for straining, or a colander and an 8-quart pot or a couple of smaller pots to collect the strained finished broth.
Heating, Skimming, and Cooking
Pour the cold water into the stockpot and pour it over high heat. Rinse the turkey wings and drop them in the water, followed by all the other ingredients as you prepare them. Bring the water to a full active boil, then lower the heat slightly to maintain a gentle rolling boil. For the next 15 minutes, cook uncovered, frequently skimming off the residue rising, set a cover ajar over the pot—I prop it up with a long wooden spoon resting on the pot rim—leaving a space for evaporation. Adjust the heat to keep the broth reducing slowly at a gentle boil. (Note the level of liquid in the pot when you put the cover in place, so you can tell how much is has reduced).
After an hour or more, mash the softened vegetables (if you want) against the side of the pan, especially the carrots and tomatoes. A good smush with a spoon or spatula is enough. Or (another choice) leave a few of the nicest carrot pieces intact to enjoy as a soup vegetable later on. But—a major decision—if you want to end up with an especially clear broth, do not mash any vegetables at all.
At this time, the liquid level should be noticeably lower—1 or 2 inches in most pots. If not, make sure the broth is boiling actively and leave the cover off.
After 2 hours or so, when the broth is reduced by approximately ¼ of its original volume, check its consistency and flavor. If you want it for sauces, roasts or other dishes, and it is light bodied with distinctly brothy flavor—though not strong enough to call soup—stop cooking now.
If you want it to have a stronger flavor and more body—to serve as soup or use for more intense sauces—keep cooking uncovered, until it has concentrated to the degree you like. (Or divide the broth: remove and reserve some of the light broth and cook the rest to intensify it).
Straining, Cooling, and Storing the Broth
When the broth is cooked to your taste, turn off the heat. Lift out the turkey wings with a spider or slotted spatula, and put them in a bowl to cool; extract any whole, attractive pieces for later eating, too. Set a sieve (either coarse, if you want body and color, or fine-meshed for a clearer broth) or a colander into the empty pot and strain the broth through it. Ladle out in stages if the pot is too heavy to pour from.
After the broth has drained through, press and scrape the vegetables against the sieve, mashing them well, then scrape the soft vegetable puree from the bottom of the sieve and blend it into the broth. But if you want clear broth, don’t press the vegetables at all.
If you are using the broth right away, skim the surface with a spoon or ladle, scooping up as much fat as possible; soak up the last floating slicks of fat by touching them with the edge of a paper towel. Otherwise chill the broth (either in the pot or in smaller freezer containers) and pry off the fat layer after it has solidified.
Store unused broth in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days; freeze for use within 4 or 5 months. Bring it back to the boil before using in other dishes or serving as a soup.
Don’t forget the turkey wings: separate and shred all the meat—discard the bones, skin, and cartilage. Enjoy the meat (and any carrots or other vegetables that you’ve saved).