Turkey Stock to Waste Not, Want Not

Simple Turkey Soup

By making your own stock you get an immensely healthy soup that can be made into a simple meal with broken up gluten free spaghetti noodles, sliced carrots and torn kale.

I don’t bother with New Year’s Resolutions and from the fodder that is cluttering up my Facebook and Twitter feeds, nor do most people. It leads me to think that nobody actually makes New Year’s resolutions. They are as much a myth as a really great New Year’s Eve Party.

What did you do on New Year’s Eve? I stayed home, made an inelegant beef stew for dinner (which was delicious) and drank wine with my husband while watching ‘Rome’ on DVD. Kind of a raunchy choice but I do love that series. Sure, there is a lot of gruesome violence and way too much sex to ever watch the show with your parents, no matter how old you are, but Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus have the best bromance to grace television screens, Attia is a wonderful blend of heroine and villain,  and James Purefoy (Marc Antony), is dead sexy. All in all, it is was a great way to spend the evening.

As the new year begins, I will continue to do what I committed to myself I would do better in the fall. Stop wasting food. I’m terrible at meal planning, which combined with greedy purchasing habits at the grocery store, lead to a lot of produce going in the garbage. It didn’t help that my fridge was being clogged up with zucchini’s and eggplant from our CSA. Because I stay home full-time for now, it is important that I contribute to the family budget by not throwing money away with wasted food. This is important for everyone, of course, not just stay-at-home parents.

In keeping with my resolve to not waste, I wanted to extract everything I could from our expensive, local, free-range, Christmas turkey. This means, turning that roasted beast into stock with the carcass.

I confess that I do not make perfect, chef quality, stocks. They seldom come out clear but they are packed with flavour and nutrients and they make delicious soup that needs very little added to make the stock a meal. I’m not going to include a recipe in this post because that really needs specific measurements. Making stock needs guidelines, not specificity.

I used a large, high sided stock pot to make the turkey stock.  I got mine at a restaurant supply store because I needed a very tall pot when I was canning rhubarb syrup in Weck juice jars. None of my canning pots were tall enough to cover the jars with water during processing. I usually just use my pasta pot with the colander insert. We had a 20 lb turkey and there is no way the carcass was fitting in that pot. I was a bit foolish and didn’t break up the carcass before putting it in the pot. I realized my mistake when the water wasn’t covering all of it. My husband took it out and broke it down for me. I’m a total pussy when it comes to bone breaking. It’s pathetic.

Guidelines For Making Stock

  • use a tall pot, not a big dutch oven style pot
  • do not put the lid on, let the stock gently evaporate to concentrate flavour
  • do not let it boil; a very gentle, steady simmer what you are looking for
  • use fresh vegetables because any bitterness in old vegetables, particularly celery or carrots, will concentrate in the stock and make it inedibly bitter
  • straining the stock with paper towel in conjunction with a fine mesh sieve will catch the little gross bits and also absorb the fat
  • return to strained stock to a clean pot if you want to concentrate the stock for easier storage
  • add the salt after you strain it and finish concentrating the stock since you can’t get rid of excess salt
  • if you use a turkey carcass that had stuffing, do your very best to clean any bread from the cavity
  • you can start the stock in the evening, turn it off at night and store the pot in a cold place (such as the garage in winter). You can finish off the last couple of hours in the morning.

Steps For Making Homemade Turkey Stock

  1. Break up cooked turkey carcass into two or three pieces and put it in a large, high-sided stock pot.
  2. Add aromatic vegetables and some herbs. I prefer: a large leek, 1 onion, 2 or 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 2 tsp peppercorns, and a bay leaf or two.
  3. Cover turkey carcass and vegetables with cold water and bring to an extremely gentle simmer on the stove.
  4. Let the stock gently simmer for 6-8 hours. I prefer to simmer it for a good 8 hours.
  5. Occasionally skim any scum or excess fat off the top.
  6. Scoop out as much of the bones and vegetables out of the pot as you can as that will make it easier pour the stock through the colander in the next step.
  7. When the stock has simmered as long as you want, place a colander over a very large bowl and pour the stock through the colander into the bowl. If it doesn’t fit in one bowl, then use multiple bowls.
  8. Clean your stock pot so you can use it to strain the the filtered stock through a dampened paper towel fitted into a fine mesh sieve.
  9. Pour the stock from the bowl (use oven mitts with a grip) into the clean stock pot through the sieve.
  10. If the paper towel gets too clogged up with fat or particles, switch it out for a clean one halfway through.
  11. If some particles get through in the first run through the paper towel and sieve then repeat the process of steps 9 and 10 using the bowl.
  12. If the stock is more watery than you like, or you have more volume than you can store, simmer the stock in a clean stock pot for another hour or so to reduce the stock.
  13. Once the stock is reduced to where you want it, now add salt to taste.
  14. Chill the stock and use within a week or freeze what you won’t be using right away.

Note: For the soup pictured above, I thinly sliced a carrot and broke up lots of gluten free spaghetti noodles. Just when I served the soup, I tore up some kale and dropped it in.

What are your stock making tips? Do you have plans to waste less this year? How will you do it?

Stock making equipment with descriptions on what each is for.

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