Thanksgiving remnants, or how to make the best turkey stock ever.

Thanksgiving has been over, everyone has stuffed themselves silly and passed out watching the Lions (If you didn’t, well too bad for you, the Lions actually won this year). With the ending of Thanksgiving comes the second best part of Thanksgiving, the left-overs. This year I cooked ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I don’t know how I got out of doing anything but hey, I’ll take it. This year all I had to do was show up and eat. I think this resulted because nothing was planned. No one said anything about getting together for Thanksgiving even though I asked several times what everyone’s plans were. It turned out the in laws were traveling and my mom seemed to be avoiding the topic all together. The weekend before Thanksgiving I declared that I wasn’t going anywhere and we’d have a mini Thanksgiving with just the four of us, but then at dinner with my mom she announces that she picked up everything at the store earlier that day.

Ha! I guess it’s a good thing no actual plans were made.

Since my mom was cooking and not my dad (because he’s been dead for three years) the turkey was of normal size and not a gargantuan bird. We almost always had a 20+ pound turkey growing up, even if it was just us plus one. Even if my mom went out and picked up a normal sized bird my dad would go back out and find a turkey that put Godzilla to shame. There were always left overs. I would get so excited that I could take real turkey sandwiches to school for lunch, but the Turkey NEVER made it to Monday. I was always so disappointed. Random side fact I hate Turkey lunch meat and vary rarely eat it. The only time I eat it when I’m suck at some luncheon where all they have are turkey sandwiches, and then I’m just choking it down because I have to eat something other than frozen wholesale cookies.

The lack of gargantuan turkey resulted in zero turkey left overs. That totally sucks, but Husbands employer is making sure we are stocked well with turkey. I swear it’s one of the last companies that still gives a turkey out for Thanksgiving and I am quite thankful for that yearly turkey! Even without getting any fabulous leftovers I did score the turkey caracas. Yes I take the caracas. I see no reason to waste a perfectly perfect caracas to make some turkey stock.

Typically I’ll save the stock to make gravy or use in other recipes and of coarse left over turkey soup. At this point I only had enough turkey to make a batch of turkey noodle soup (and I had a bunch of carrots and celery that needed to be used up as well).

Making Turkey Stock from a Turkey Caracas:

  • Turkey Caracas – the meatier the better
  • Large onion cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 stalks of celery cut into 4/5 inch chunks
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • water
  • cheese cloth
  • large bowl or second stock pot

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, you may need to break the turkey caracas. It is not unknown for me to take a hammer to some of my larger caracas. Always an interesting time when Husband asks me why I’m walking into the kitchen yielding a hammer. Cover the caracas with water.

Turkey Stock

Here is the stock in the pot waiting to come to temp.

The key with making a good turkey stock is cooking it long and low. Now is the time to watch the stock, turn the heat to a medium heat. Keep a watch on it as you do not want it to boil!

Turkey stock - heating

Once the stock starts to get the little bubbles like the above picture cut the heat to a simmer, then simmer for a few hours until the meat on the caracas easily falls off.  Turkey sock if boiled will get cloudy. Keeping it just under a boil and simmering for a few hours will keep the broth nice and clear.

Once the meat falls off easily take the pot off the stove and let cool. It’s important to let it cool off since you need to handle bits of bones. Once cool enough pull out all the large bits of vegetables, a slotted spoon is great. Then start working on the bones. Pick off as much of the meat as you can if not all of it. Throwing out the bones, skin and bits of whatever other nastiness is in there. Put the meat in a separate bowl.

Once all the vegetables, bones, everything else you can get out, ready your strainer. Take the cheese cloth and tie it around the top of the stock pot or large bowl. The second container needs to be able to hold all of the stock. Make sure that the cheese cloth has some give in the middle, it should NOT be pulled tight across the top of the second container.

Start to slowly pour or ladle the stock from the cooking pot into the new one. This may sound like a very annoying extra step but it leaves you with the best homemade stock ever. This will get out any of the fine bone particles that may have fallen apart when cooking. It also helps pull out a good amount of the fat/grease from the stock as well. As you’re pouring the stock though the cheese cloth you will need to stop from time to time to let it drain, and if you have particularly fatty bird you’ll have to pull off the cheese cloth and rinse out the fat and other whatevers you strain out.

Sadly I do not have a photo of this step because I lost my cheese cloth (again!). I had to improvise using paper towels, which did not work out as well as I thought it would have. The paper towel ended up soaking up the liquid a little too well and started a stream from the paper towel onto my stove top. I should have used my trusty dusty kitchen towel – which I’ve done in the past when I don’t have cheese cloth available. If you do have to improvise this will ruin your kitchen towel as the greasy fatness never comes out well and ends up staining the towel. So, don’t use one that you might be overly attached to. I am not at a loss for stained up kitchen towels.

I turned my stock into Turkey soup by adding back in the meat cleaned off the bones, about six carrots, 4 celery, 1/2 large onion (all chopped). Simmered with a palm full of Marjoram, Rosemary, a 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of salt. I added in a half a back of No Yolks noodles – Extra Broad slightly under cooked and let them finish cooking in the soup. Serve with some crusty bread for extra deliciousness.

Tomorrow I’m cooking up our turkey, which started to thaw with the warmer weather in it’s impromptu freezer (AKA a car outside).

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