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Darlings, I know it's way past Thanksgiving, but folks are still cooking turkey (heck, I've another one in my freezer just waiting for January!). And someone asked me what to do with giblets and carcass, so... Here it is!

If you don't mind the extra work and mess, you've some awesomeness awaiting you with all that leftover turkey (or a whole chicken, for that matter). Sure, you can do the usual leftover stuff—turkey and dumplings, turkey soup, turkey salad, turkey tacos, turkey curry, so on and so forth. But you can make the most amazing broth with all those parts most folks toss out as unusable.

First, know you'll need two rather large cooking pots—one to cook the stock, one to strain the stock into once it's done cooking. DON'T think you can drain it into a glass/pottery pot, please. The sudden introduction of boiling-hot liquid can cause it to crack, and them you'll lose your pot and your broth!

Now: go over that turkey carcass for all the little bits of meat you can find. You won't get all of it—not-yet—so don't spend half a day on it. Just get everything you can with a small knife and fingers. Put all those little pieces in the fridge for later.

Put the rest of the carcass in a pot large enough to hold it and the bunch of other stuff included below. You'll notice my measurements are... not exact. That's because I tend to dump herbs and spices until I think it's about right, based on what I've done before. So use the amounts as a general recommendation, and adjust to your own tastes. In my experience, it takes at least five tries to get a recipe close to matching your own particular tastes, so feel free to play!

The other stuff that goes in the pot includes:

  • The giblets that were packed inside your turkey. Don't cut these up. Just dump them in. On the other hand, if you have loving pets who deserve holiday treats—and mine always do!—you just put the neck in the pot for broth and distribute all else as treats.

  • Two large onions, quartered

  • Four to six celery stalks, leaves and all, cut only enough to fit in the pot

  • Four or five carrots, tops and all, cut only enough to fit in the pot

  • (Why not chop them smaller? Because you want to be able to strain them out, and that's a pain when pieces are little!)

  • Tablespoon, maybe a little more, of salt. Sea salt is most awesome. If you want an exact measurement of salt... Umm, about a Tbsp per gallon of water used?

  • Cloves of garlic. I use four or five. If you're using pre-minced garlic, maybe dump in a heaping tablespoon. You know your garlic needs better than I do.

  • Tablespoon-ish of sage (or 3 Tbsp fresh)

  • 1/2 tablespoon-ish of marjoram (2 Tbsp fresh)

  • 1/2 tablespoon-ish of rosemary (2 Tbsp fresh)

  • (The above three measurements are total approximations, especially with the fresh herbs. You have wiggle-room, though, so unless you're totally against a certain flavor, don't worry about being exact.)

  • 3 whole bay leaves

  • Some black pepper. (I'm not a pepper fan, so I skimp here, It's up to you.)

Once you have all that in the pot, add enough water to cover the carcass. Kinda. I had a such a huge turkey this year, I couldn't cover the carcass without nearly overflowing the pot. So I waited until the broth had been cooking for an hour—enough to soften the carcass—then was able to break it apart enough to fit under the water.

Put that huge and heavy pot on the stove and turn up the heat. As soon as it just barely starts to boil, turn the heat way down to a simmer. You do not want a rolling boil, folks.* Cover it up and leave it alone. Leave it along for a long, long time. Like, at least three hours. It will smell amazing.

Okay! End of three hours!

Now you need another really big pot and a big colander. Put the latter inside the former. Pour all the yummy-smelling stuff through the colander. Breathe deeply. Set the colander aside to cool for a bit. Don't throw anything away yet!

You could call the broth done at this point. I don't. I put it back on the stove, uncovered, at a simmer for another hour or so. The additional cooking deepens the flavor, in my opinion.
Now your broth is done. Yes, some folks like to strain it until it's a clear broth. Me, I don't see a reason for that. Some folks put it in the fridge overnight, then skim all the fat off the top. Nah, that takes out a ton of flavor, and some nutrition as well!* All I do is freeze it in containers of a size that'll fit my recipes. I freeze most of it in large containers because I love making soup and gravy, but freezing a couple ice cube trays of broth gives you small amounts to use for cooking vegetables, rice, or mashed potatoes.

Once the stuff in the colander is cool enough to touch, begin Round Two of carcass-picking. Most times you'll be amazed at how much little bits of meat you'll find. Lots of folks skip this step—it's a hassle, and it's messy—but when I was dirt poor, that last picking meant another whole meal.

Or, if your loving pets did not receive treats earlier, or if they deserve more treats—and mine always do!—distribute those little bits of yummy meat accordingly.

No bones for loving pets, though, right? I know you know that. Consider it a legally required PSA.

Once you've done, or chosen not to do, the last pick-over, toss out everything from the colander. Yes, everything. You've cooked the hell out of it. Let it go.
And please tell me how it turns out!

Final note: This is one of the ways I was able to keep my growing adolescent son filled with nutritious food when my food budget was around $35 a week (plus veggies I'd grown or canned/frozen). I could get three to four meals worth of protein for us out of one big $7-$8 chicken, and had enough broth left over to up the nutrition of bean or vegetable soup for another meal. Besides, from my turkey this year, I came away with 1 1/2 gallons of homemade broth. Were I to purchase poultry/chicken broth from the store, that would cost me around ten to twelve dollars, I think.

* Many recipes recommend skimming the broth while it's cooking to get rid of what they call "scum." That stuff that gets a little frothy on top of broth is not scum. It is protein from the bones. And honestly, once I stopped getting my broth up to a hard boil and let it simmer instead, very little even showed up. Sure, the protein is still there in the broth, but the teensy particles remain diffused. Of course, if you want a crystal clear broth, all of that stuff—along with the fats, the herbs, and everything else must be strained out. That's "professional" broth. I like the homemade stuff instead. :)



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
Have you ever made turkey hash? My mom used to make it after Thanksgiving.
Dec. 7th, 2015 03:06 am (UTC)
No, and I'm kicking myself for not having thought of it! Do you have a favorite recipe?
Dec. 7th, 2015 03:10 am (UTC)
I don't. I'm not much of a hash person because of the potatoes I can't eat. However, my kinds like hash and I was hoping you had a recipe, LOL.
Dec. 7th, 2015 03:20 am (UTC)
Hee! I bet I can find one, of my mother will have one. I'll ask!
Dec. 7th, 2015 03:22 am (UTC)
Thank you!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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