by Paula Marcoux.
It is said there are people who go to the trouble of roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, and then throw up their hands at the thought of making broth from the carcass. If this is you, and especially if you have gone to the expense of acquiring a local, organic and/or humanely-raised bird, harken unto me: it takes less actual effort to make a pot of fantastic, versatile, and healthy stock than it does to read one of these blog-posts.
Read on to find out how…
This is all you do:
Select a large pot. Remove and store away any leftover meat, then put the skeletal remains, skin, etc., in the pot as compactly as possible. Sometimes this involves some satisfying crushing and tearing, since the area where the stuffing used to be takes up too much room in the pot as is. Do not be squeamish about throwing in the drumstick that Uncle Fred gnawed on – quite a lot of boiling is about to occur.
Perhaps as you prepared vegetables earlier, you set aside leek tops and carrot trimmings. If not, take matters in hand now by adding onion (my grandmother would stick a clove or two into each one) or leek, a big handful of parsley, a couple carrots, some celery. (Have a look at the relish tray on the dining table before you open the crisper drawer). You can use other aromatics like garlic or ginger, but I like to use a restrained hand at this stage, so that the broth will be ethnically versatile. Add a bit of salt, but assume you’ll correct the seasoning much later.
It is to be hoped that you used the interesting spare parts that arrived with the turkey to start broth for your gravy, but if you didn’t, you can toss them into your stockpot now (all except the liver, which you may cook and use separately – another blog-post for another day). The neck is full of great flavor and collagen (the stuff that makes the broth jell when cold).
Cover the whole mess with cold water (if your turkey and pot are huge, consider carrying the water to the stove and filling the pot in situ, to save your back – heavy!), and bring to a gentle simmer. Now pay attention, because this is almost the only part you can screw up: do not boil it hard, just the gentlest simmer. Skim off the foam which rises to the top and discard.
Cook 3 or 4 hours, until the flavor is entirely rendered from the remains. Ladle through a strainer, letting all the broth run out of the bleached bones and flaccid carrots and all the indiscernible rest of the stuff (usually dogs and cats become very attentive at this point).
You’re not done simmering. You probably have a fairly vast quantity of not-very-intense liquid. Return it to the heat, and cook it down another hour or longer (a more aggressive simmer is acceptable here, but heavy boiling is still to be avoided, as it will turn the stock opaque and coarsen the flavor). You want to reduce it to a manageable amount, with great taste and body. At this point you can really condense it for the sake of convenient storage, and assume you’ll remember to dilute it later. And don’t worry about the fat; it’s easy to remove from the cold stock just before using.
Pour the stock in jars, and chill or freeze. It’s money in the bank.
Okay, so it’s a bit of a job, but consider these additional tips:
Break down the carcass, wrap and freeze it for future rendering, if this is not the best time for stock-boiling.
If you have a large slow cooker, let it do all the work for you. My sister Denise puts it all in the pot, and lets the magic happen overnight. Think of delicious broth for breakfast – surrounding poached eggs, garnished with garlic slivers fried in olive oil!