Don’t Throw Out That Bird … It’s Soup Time!

November 21, 2008 – 6:16 pm

This may be something you haven’t seen since you were little and had Thanksgiving Dinner at your Grandma’s house, but this frugal cooking tip may be worth resurrecting.  Making soup stock out of the leftover carcass of the turkey seems to be a process that’s gone by the way in the last several years or so.  It’s time we brought it back.  The following is a bare bones - excuse the pun - explanation of how to go about boiling those bones for stock.

In order to get your turkey carcass ready, thoroughly scrape the stuffing out of the turkey and put it in a separate container in the refrigerator.  Then, of course, remove all the big, usable, pieces of turkey meat from the bones.  You’ll save those for casseroles, sandwiches, and soups.  Do Not remove the skin, fat, or gristle from the carcass,  as this adds to the flavor of the stock.  Don’t worry, you’ll be skimming the fat off the stock when it’s all done.

Grab your biggest soup pot and place your turkey carcass and all the drippings, skin, etc. in the pot, breaking the carcass into smaller pieces if necessary until it all fits.  Throw in a couple onions, celery stalks, peppercorns, and salt.  Don’t go crazy with the peppercorns or salt because when you use this stock for soup, you’ll be seasoning again.  Now cover your ingredients with fresh, cold water.  Put on the burner and bring it to a boil, uncovered so it doesn’t get away from you.  Once it comes to a boil, turn it down to a nice, slow slimmer, cover loosely (tip the lid) and continue to simmer for a good couple of hours, stirring once in awhile. 

When you’re tired of watching it simmer, remove the pot from the stove and let cool enough to handle.  Then, place a colander or strainer in a large bowl and pour contents of turkey pot through to strain out everything.  Throw out all the bones and vegetables.  They will not have any flavor left and will be basically mushy.  You’ve saved enough turkey meat to add to a future soup recipe when you took the good meat off the bones before you boiled the carcass.

Now, you should be left with a bowl of stock.  Put the stock in the refrigerator uncovered and leave it overnight.  The next day, you will have a layer of fat on top.  You can spoon that off of the surface and throw it away.  You don’t need that extra fat for anything. There’s enough fat and flavor left in the stock to please anyone.  If you wish, you may strain the stock again to remove any tiny flecks, but it’s not necessary.  If you choose to, strain carefully through clean cheesecloth into a new bowl.  Then, divide the stock between freezer containers, freeze what you want and put the remaining stock in the refrigerator to use up in the next week in creating wonderful, homemade turkey soups.

Believe it or not, you will be hungry for turkey again.  Turkey soup will be especially tasty when you’ve used your own ingenuity to create the stock.  Aren’t you a clever and frugal Mom!

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