Using the Thanksgiving Turkey for more than the meat!
So, you have just spent the whole day preparing, cooking and eating a huge Thanksgiving turkey. Your guests have picked the bird clean of it’s delicious, juicy meat and all that remains is the carcass. So, what do you do? Do you throw it away? Do you put it in the woods for the wild animals? No. You make turkey stock/broth!
I used my parent’s Thanksgiving turkey carcass since I didn’t make one myself. The bird was huge, even with the meat gone. I first attempted to boil it in my largest cooking pot but, it was not going to work. Plan B? I had to borrow a large stockpot that would be large and deep enough to hold both the bird and the water. Once I had the stockpot, there was no stopping me!
I began by placing the entire carcass into the stockpot and filling it with water until the carcass was covered. I then turned the stove on high heat and started adding spices and herbs. I’m not sure what seasonings and rubs were used on the bird when it was whole so I chose to keep my seasonings simple until the stock or broth was nearly done. I chose garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.
I then allowed the contents to boil on high heat for about an hour. After the first hour, I reduced the heat slightly (medium-high heat) and continued to boil the contents for another couple of hours, adding more water when the level would expose the bird. Throughout the process, the turkey carcass and seasonings will infuse with the water thus making stock or broth flavored by the boiling contents.
After about four hours of boiling, you can turn the heat off and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Next, using a wonton net, slotted spoon or strainer, remove all bones and other chunks from the broth and dump into a plastic bag. Once all chunks are removed, taste the stock/broth and use your judgment as to what seasonings or herbs it needs to finish it. My stock was nearly perfect, but I felt a bit more salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley would finish it off. And it did!
My recipe for turkey stock/broth
- Turkey carcass from a large turkey (or any size turkey you have but it needs to be the whole turkey carcass)
- Enough water to cover the bird in the pot (mine was a couple gallons)
- 1 Cup of dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of parsley flakes
- 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
**seasonings and herbs are measured for a large bird in a large pot, may adjust to taste and to accommodate a smaller bird and smaller pot, more seasonings can be added later as well**
Once the stock is flavored the way you want it to be, you can then decide what to do with it! I always freeze some for use in a recipe in the future. Often times there are recipes that call for the use of a chicken or vegetable stock and I don’t always have it on hand. So, I figure having some delicious turkey stock ready to go in the freezer is a good alternative. The broth can be used to make soup, obviously. Chop up some of the leftover turkey meat or any cooked meat you wish, add in some carrots and other veggies and cook through, serve warm! Turkey stock is a great ingredient to have on hand so make it, refrigerate or freeze it and use as you wish!