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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The turkey carcass

Is that turkey carcass still hanging out in the fridge? What are you waiting for? That's a great pot of soup just waiting to happen. All great soups start with great stock.


Anyone can make great stock. Stock is always made with bones. Since most people pick the carcass clean, that's exactly what you are left with after Thanksgiving. I often throw in the neck too but this year I used them to make a quick stock Thanksgiving day for the gravy.


The method is simple and the same for any white stock where the bones are not roasted. Put the bones in a large soup pot. Cut the main carcass into pieces so it fits nicely. Peel an onion and cut into eighths. Peel a couple of carrots and cut into chunks. Clean two stalks of celery and cut into chunks. They all go in the pot. If you have drippings from the turkey pan, these can go in too. A cleaned leek is also nice if you have one. The typical aromatics are a smashed clove of garlic, 6 whole peppercorns, a bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh parsley and a sprig of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried). If you are neat, you can wrap all of these in cheesecloth for a nice bouquet garni. I usually toss all of them in the pot since they will get strained out after cooking.


Cover everything in the pot with cold water. Set on the stove on medium. As the water comes up to a simmer, you want to spoon off the foam that floats to the surface. This will assure a clearer stock. Another tip for getting a clearer stock is don't ever let it get hotter than a simmer. After the water gets to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for at least 2 hours. You can let it go 6 hours if you want.


Take 2 pieces of cheesecloth big enough to cover a large strainer. Wet them, wring them out and place in the strainer. Put the strainer over another large pot or bowl and pour in your finished stock. If you are going to make soup right away, you are ready to go.


If you aren't going to use the stock right away, it's important that you cool it quickly. Put it in the fridge, or your garage if it is cooler than 40 degrees F. I have a couple of small energy drink bottles that I fill with water and freeze. I put them in the stock to cool it down even faster.


You can freeze turkey stock for at least 3 months. It's always nice to have a cache of turkey stock from Thanksgiving hiding in the freezer for a lovely pot of turkey soup in February.



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