Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Turkey Stock.

I cook for leftovers.

Thanksgiving is the ultimate setup for a smorgasbord of leftovers.  After the stuffing is depleted, the green beans have gone bad and the turkey is well-picked of meat it's time for carcass disassembly.  By hand, I pick off the remaining meat into separate bowls for white and dark because I use them each differently to their advantage.  Giant pieces of fat and soft skin are discarded but the rest is put right into a slow cooker crock to begin turkey stock preparation.

This was my first Turkey roasting experience but I've had plenty of practice making chicken stock from leftover grocery store rotisserie chickens.  The process is the same but the time difference is noticeable   It took an hour just to deal with the carcass and another half hour to prepare the stock.

The slow-cooker method is the only way I have ever made stock.  Simply put in the poultry parts, onion, celery and carrots (only a rough chop is needed) then season with garlic cloves, whole peppercorns and a bay leaf or two.  At this point I put it in the fridge overnight.  The next morning all you do is fill the crock with water, set to low for about 4 hours then simmer a few more.  Because I am frugal and hate to waste, I have a covered tub in my freezer where I throw the ends of the aforementioned vegetables as I acquire them to use for stock.  They are only needed for flavor and are strained out and discarded anyway.

I have two programmable slow cookers, a large 6 quart and a smaller 3 1/2 quart; I love them and ended up needing both for the turkey which was originally 9 pounds.  Later in the day the tedious task of scooping and straining begins.  If anyone has a less time consuming method than mine and wants to share it, please do so.  I place a large mesh strainer (like this) over a large batter bowl and scoop out the solids with a slotted spoon.  When the strainer fills I press the contents down to extract as much liquid as possible and then put them in a plastic bag to discard.

(As I was straining this batch I found meat pieces I missed, or was unable to get to, that I set aside in bowl.  I used the meat to make turkey salad sandwiches which tasted okay, a little bland.  I felt great about salvaging every last piece though, it was very "frontier" feeling.)

With this turkey broth batch I filled not only my two quart batter bowl (which is what one rotisserie chicken generally yields) but also my 4 and 2 cup Pyrex measuring cups.  They went into the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap overnight to solidify any fat left on top which is scooped out later.  Usually I use most of the stock the following day for a soup, braise or other dish.  Any remaining stock is poured into covered plastic containers and then frozen.  Large yogurt tubs work great for this purpose.

In this Thanksgiving turkey's case, I made the stock yesterday and used 6 cups today for Turkey and Wild Rice Soup which is my next post.

[No photographs for this post because turkey carcass creates greasy fingers which is not compatible with a camera.]

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