Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank You, Good Turkey

I always make my own broth from a cooked chicken or turkey, and I had a whoppin', big ol' turkey carcass to work with after Thanksgiving.

First I sit at the table with a nice glass of wine and spend some quality time with what's left of Tom (Tomasina?) Turkey picking the bones and getting off all the meat I can. This meat gets wrapped and goes in the freezer for future meals. (My mom used to LOVE the job of picking a bird carcass. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit this trait from her so whenever I have to do the job, I can't help thinking of her and sending a plea skyward, "Mother, where are you when I need you?")

Meanwhile, back at the carcass . . . and wine. I put everything in the soup pot: gristle, bones, skin, yucky looking stuff I have no desire to eat. After all, that's where so many of the nutrients are, and I don't want to waste one bit of it.

All goes into my biggest stock pot. I asked for (and got) this pot for Christmas last year from my husband. I think it cost about $700 (that might be a slight exaggeration). When it's full of bones and water, I can't lift it. (Don't laugh at the picture. It's one of the better ones I've ever had taken.)

I fill the pot to within a couple/few inches of the top with cold water. Then I throw in some chunked up veggies to flavor the broth. For this big batch, I used three big onions, six stalks of celery and five carrots. I also sprinkle in (no measuring involved) any herb or spice that goes with fowl. Parsley, tarragon, sage, marjoram, rosemary, thyme . . . whatever strikes your fancy. Also salt and pepper, of course.

Two or three days of slow cooking (covered) . . . all day . . . simmers all the goodness out of the bones and into the broth.

Finally, I let the whole kit and kaboodle cool and strain it before putting into quart containers for the freezer.

What a haul! I got two and three-quarters gallons from this batch. That will make many pots of flavorful, nutritious soup for us. And it really does taste sooo much better than anything you can buy in a can or mix up from granules and water. Trust me. It does.

(Notice the candles in the above picture? Leftover from Thanksgiving Dinner. I never did get all five candles to stand up straight in the holder. Ah, yes, total class and ambience.)


  1. LMAO! ok the first pic got me laughing, now I will go back and actually read...

  2. Erin - Hey! I thought I told you not to laugh!

  3. As for the candles, I always melt a little wax at the bottom of the holder and stuff them in there straight until they harden right. That being said, I don't even use tapers anymore since my kids would probably tip them over running around the house, lol. I usually try to do the carcass thing, but since we were in MN, my brother got the carcasses this time. Speaking of picking turkey, my mom and I were carving the thing up before dinner, and I realized I HATE disassembling birds! Popping those joints out was grossing me out and this year I saw something I had never seen before: FAT! Mom got a locally raised turkey so that was good, but the thing had so much fat on it I remarked "Are you sure this isn't a duck?" lol... she said "I was thinking the same thing". Then later I couldn't figure out why the turkey had 4 wings and she had to smack me as she said "There was 2 of those duck-turkeys"! I have a long way to go before butchering my chickens ..... :)

  4. lol! Love the pic.

    I enjoy picking over roast chicken carcasses, I think because it is so rewarding and you get to eat the best bits!

  5. Hi, Erin - Yup, that's what I always do to get candles to stand up straight in their holders. But I think I've learned my lesson . . . these were cheapie candles and after I tried two different times on all five candles, my husband volunteered to help. He brought in his smallest blow torch to get the ends really drippy and soft and THAT still didn't work! The wax hardened and then simply . . . let loose of any part of the candle in contact with it! VERY weird.

    Too bad you didn't get a turkey with four drumsticks instead of four wings! ;o)

  6. Hi, Heidi - So good to hear from you!

    Thanks for the compliment on the picture. ;o) And, ah, would you be willing to come to my house the next time I have a carcass to pick?



    I think you are a charming, lovely woman. I also think the picture of you with that pot helmet, lid shield, and massive knife is, well, fantastic. Very Monty Pythonesque.

    (I, too, am no big fan of poultry-picking. We had a lovely local 14-pounder this year and guess what my job is tomorrow morning?)

  8. Love the pot on the head pic! Too funny! I'm with you-I hate getting the carcass ready for broth. Bet the wine helps though!

  9. I like to freeze at least some of my chicken/turkey stock in ice cube trays (and then dump them all into a Tupperware or Ziploc for longer-term storage). Then, if I need a smaller quantity than a quart (or whatever), I have it!

    This way, I'll add some flavor to rice, etc. by using broth to cook it in instead of water.

  10. P.S. Mom, maybe we should make this "pot picture" your new profile pic! ;)

  11. MaineCelt - Yes, I am a charming, lovely woman . . . as you can readily tell by the picture.

    (My sympathies are with you and the carcass this morning.)

    Hi, Sue - Who knew people were divided into the two groups of Like-to-Pick-the-Carcass and Hate-to-Pick-the Carcass!

    Chicken Mama - Why, why, WHY can't I remember to do that? More times than I like to admit I defrost a whole quart because I only need part of it and then let the rest sit in the refrig until it grows hair. Oh, you be so wise!

    P.S. I've already thought of that . . . great minds!

  12. You let it cook a few days? Hmm. I usually do it for six hours or so. Maybe I'll try it longer next time. Would that longer time work with beef broth too?

  13. Hi, Jo - Yup, a nutritionist I work with advocates always cooking your broth (chicken/turkey or beef bone) three or four days. She says that long is needed to get all the goodness out of the bones. (Gotta confess I usually only do 2 or 3.) Each night, I refrigerate it and then take it out in the morning for another days cooking. Be sure to keep your heat as low as you can get it so vital enzymes and such aren't destroyed by high heat. Sometimes my broth comes out like Jello . . . it's that thick. But so full of good stuff for us.

  14. Too, after refrigerating it each night, you can skim off the fat the next morning before heating it again. Double bonus!

    P.S. How apropos: word verification is 'recips'. Kinda like 'recipes'. But not.

  15. Chicken Mama - BUT, don't forget that we NEED a certain amount of (saturated) fats in our bodies for everything to function correctly. That's why fat-free diets don't make people thin. The right kind of fats (like you would get from broths made with organically raised fowl or animals) are essential for good health. So if you wish to take off some of the fat, leave at least a little for flavor . . . and health.