Black Friday Turkey Stock – Something for Nothing!
So – we gave Thanks…
I was well enough that, with the planning and preprep, I pulled off a pretty good meal. (I could not have done that last year, or the year before… so I am thankful for that.)
And the cranberry relish was good. I ground equal amounts by weight of whole navel orange, peel and all, and cranberries. I think the food grinder makes the difference – it crushes, as well as cutting. It was tart, and just a little bitter, but very refreshing with the tender meat, rich gravy, and so on. We liked it.
After dinner, I cut up the rest of the meat – I have a sliced breast and a container of dark meat in the freezer, a container of mixed slices for leftover meals in the next few days ( Repeat of last night, with the rest of the stuffing and gravy. Turkey with white beans and spinach – I have spinach – over rice. Turkey in a cream sauce. Turkey with tomatoes. Not sure what I’ll do, yet, but there are many options…) And a container of all the odd little bits for soup.
And the bones, skin, wing tips, and scrap are in the slow cooker, simmering away.
I wanted to be able to talk about this in time for you all to do the same with your turkey carcasses… and you may remember that I roasted a chicken, a while back. I always make a stock from the bones, so I took pictures, this time, as the method is the same, and it is really easy.
Chicken or turkey stock is a wonderful thing to have on hand. You can use it as a base for soup, you can add some to the water you cook grains in, you can toss some into vegetables to cook them… I used this stock in my pumpkin soup and my stuffing, yesterday. And I freeze some in ice cube trays, to have small amounts. It’s interesting – people doing Paleo eating have discovered this (they call it Bone Broth) – but I’ve made it all my life.
And you don’t have to have roasted a bird. You can do this with any leftover bones and trimmings – a rotisserie chicken from the store, the chicken you simmered, even the wings you served during the football game. This is the closest I know to Something from Nothing… I just keep chicken bones in a ziplock in the freezer, and throw them in the slow cooker when I have a pot full.
Basically – dump the carcass, and the loose bones,
and any bones left over, and the skin, and any fat, and… any trim at all… into the slow cooker. More or less cover it with water. (It’s OK if a bit is sticking out at the top.) Add about a spoonful of salt (which helps pull flavor out of any meat left on the bones.) Add a couple of spoonfuls of vinegar (which helps pull calcium out of the bones.) Doesn’t matter what kind of vinegar – you won’t taste it. And put the slow cooker on. Overnight, as long as it will go, until you are ready to deal with it… I cooked the chicken just overnight, as there was still meat on the bones and I didn’t want it cooked to mush – I wanted to use it in soup. I stripped the turkey pretty well, so I’m cooking it most of today, too – that will get more of the calcium and protein out of the bones.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can do this in a pot on the stove (though you may not want to leave that overnight…) Bring it just to a boil, then set it at the lowest simmer you can. You are really looking for a long, slow, steady heat, just barely stirring the surface. You should check it once in a while – on the stove, some of the liquid will evaporate, and you may need to replace it.
Even with the shorter cooking, you can see what a rich broth this is. I always make it concentrated, so it takes less room in the freezer, and I have a more intense flavor.
When it’s as cooked as I want it, I let it cool a while (just to make it easier to handle – you don’t have to.) Then I take a big heatproof bowl, set a big fine strainer in it, and use a slotted spoon to get the bulk of the bones and such out. I let them drain a bit, so they’re not too sloppy, and throw them out – all the good is out of them, now. Then I replace the strainer in the bowl, and use a ladle to pour the rest of the broth through it. Sometimes I end up putting the strainer back over the pot to drip, discarding the contents when they stop dripping, put it back in the bowl, repeat… I don’t want to waste stock, and I don’t want my garbage to be a mess.
Then I pour it into quart and pint containers, and often an ice cube tray. The fat will rise to the top, and can be scraped off and either used as cooking fat or discarded, according to your own needs, or can just be used in any soup. (I usually discard some and use some – it has a lot of the flavor, but if there was a lot of fat on the bird to begin with, it can leave a greasy feel in some recipes. If there wasn’t a lot, it’s not an issue.)
My turkey stock will be soup, later, and we’ll have several lunches from it. I have onion, carrot, turnip… I recently found whole wheat egg noodles, and may use them (though I’ve never really been a noodle soup person, unless I’m making small amounts) or may use barley (which keeps better.)
And the abundance of Thanksgiving continues.