Taking Stock - After the Big Meal
The table is cleared. The mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce is stored away for later. Uncle Bob is on the couch nodding off while your favorite sports teams are battling it out on the field. Everyone is happy and satisfied with the feast.
Your beautiful Thanksgiving turkey is but a shadow of its former self, no longer browned and beautiful but bare and skeletal. Even so it has a lot to give. As you peel off most of the remaining bits of meat for turkey sandwiches and leftover favorites don’t be too particular. When you get tired simply transfer the remains to a large stockpot and let your perfect turkey dinner keep on giving.
Throw in an onion and a couple of ribs of leftover celery from the stuffing. Add a couple of carrots, some fresh herbs, salt and pepper. You can even throw in any bits that came inside the turkey that you didn’t use in the gravy, especially the neck, and pan drippings from the roaster that didn't go into the gravy. Then cover it all with water, bring to a boil, turn down to low and allow the pot to simmer.
A Job Well Done
My friend Alanna, at Kitchen Parade, browns hers first beneath the broiler. Sounds intriguing! Try it if you like; I might this year. Simply spread the turkey bits and vegetables on a foil lined pan, and broil some six inches below the element. As the turkey bits sizzle and some get dark brown and begin to char, turn the pieces and let them brown again.
That done, add the contents of the pan to the pot. Again, cover with water. Let the pot simmer while you finish cleaning up, then sit down to some nice conversation with your family. Check it occasionally. Stir; adjust seasoning; skim; leave cooking.
When the bones begin to fall apart and the broth gets rich, anywhere from a couple of hours to all afternoon or evening, turn off the heat. When it has cooled enough to work with strain it through a mesh strainer into a new pan, pushing hard to get all the liquid from the vegetables. Then discard the remains and put the liquid in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day skim away the congealed fat on top and heat the remaining broth to use for a soup base or as broth for Turkey and Dumplings. Or, if you have no wish to use it right away, pour it into freezer containers and freeze for later use.
Now sit back and smile at a job well done.