My dad is normally the one who takes on the duty of “cleaning” out the leftover turkey or chicken. He patiently plucks out each and every last piece of juiy meat from the bones. Leaving nothing to waste—absolutely nothing. Supposedly he picked this trait up from his mom (my Memere.) She had the knack for making something from nothing. For example, after a lobster dinner (lobster was cheap back then, you know) she would take any “throw away” lobster shells, clean them out further, and produce a mouthwatering lobster stew for the following day. And so, from one generation to the next, this trait has been passed down.
This past Thanksgiving, I felt quite honored to take on this highly important task of cleaning out the turkey. And aside from asking the obvious question—why is there a whisk on my head?—there was also the question of what to do with the leftover bones and those bits of meat that refused to come off the bone.
The answer? A homemade turkey stock, of course.
The bones—and those last peices of stubborn meat—hold a whole lot of flavor. Together they make a broth that will wow your tastebuds, making you wonder why you ever bought chicken stock from the store in the first place. Oh…right…probably because there isn’t always a bunch of chicken bones just sitting in the freezer at any given moment. But this just gives you good reason to make a homemade stock whenever you can, so that you’ll always have it on hand for that opportune time.
The nice thing about making a broth from scratch is that you have complete control over what goes in and what stays out. Personally, I like to keep things simple with the basics. Garlic. Carrots. Celery. Onions. A few seasonings. When all is said and done, after the broth has been drained and just the juices remain, you have the liberty of creating whatever soup suits your fancy.
Since there was a big bag of leftover turkey meat, turkey stew seemed like the obvious choice.
With a whole wheat rosemary scone (click for recipe) on the side.
These are quick and easy to make, and are wonderful served warm with soup or toasted and spread with butter and jam.
So there you have it. The last of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. With a closing reminder to always hold on to those scraps of meat which might normally face the trash. You just never know how they might get put to use.
This is a two step process, but you can definitely make the stock ahead of time and freeze for later. It’s really nice to have homemade stock on hand, whether you decide to use it in a turkey stew or as a flavored broth to cook your rice, quinoa, or homemade stuffings.
Some people will freeze their stock as icecubes so that it can be used in smaller amounts. I tend to freeze it in bags of 2-4 cup servings depending on what recipe I plan on using.
- leftover turkey or chicken bones with some meat still attached
- onions, sliced
- celery, cut into large slices
- carrots, cut into large slices
- a few clove of garlic, crushed or minced
- pepper or a small handful of fresh peppercorns
- Place all ingredients in a large pot. Pour enough water to cover at least 3/4 of ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and continue cooking for 1-2 hours.
- Take off the heat, allow to cool, and either use immediately or refrigerate/freeze for later use.
- turkey or chicken stock
- cooked turkey meat
- oregano, thyme, garlic, and other seasonings
- Place stock, carrots, potatoes and preferred seasonings in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender but firm.
- Add turkey meat and continue cooking until heated thorough.
Question: Are you meticulous about putting anything and everything to use? What are some of your favorite ways to use up the last of the last of the leftovers?