If you’re anything like me you have a turkey carcass wrapped in foil that you have no idea what to do with. It probably has a leg, a couple of wings, and a breast that have not been touched. I’m not going to just hack at the turkey until I think it isn’t going to be any good to eat though. Hopefully, you won’t either!
The first thing you want to do is get the meat off of the bones. The legs and wings are pretty easy to deal with. You can remove them just like you would on a chicken, and then pick the meat off the bones. The breast that is still intact on your bird may be a bit more daunting. It is not as hard as you think.
To deal with the breast use your chef’s knife and cut straight down, parallel to the keel bone, and then follow the contour of the rib cage. This will cut off the majority of the the breast. It is not hard, but it can take a bit of practice. Once you have it cut off you can lay it down on a cutting board and slice it for serving.
If you decide to make stock, (and you should) it is really very easy. Take the carcass, skin, bones, and whatever leftover bits of meat are clinging to it, and place them all in a pot. Throw in some garlic, onions, celery, and carrots, some bay leaves and thyme, and cover with cold water. You should not salt your stock. If you decide to reduce it you will end up with a sauce that is too salty. You can always add salt when you want to use it. Put the pot on the stove and bring it up to a simmer. That is all, but you don’t want the stock to boil or it will be cloudy. The simmering water will break down the collagen in the bones and you end up with gelatin. This is a good thing, and your stock will be nice and viscous. (I was always freaked out by the brown jelly on cooked cold turkey as a kid, what did I know? I get it now!)Simmer your stock. After a few hours, strain out the solids and cool it down. When your stock is cool it should have the consistency of jelly. From there you can do lots with it. You can make sauces, soups, you could freeze it to use later. Freezing it can be very helpful since there is a good chance you may not use all of the stick you have before it goes bad. If you freeze it in small portions you can add it to things when you need it.
Hopefully this will inspire you to tackle that turkey in your fridge! Stock is very easy, and we both know you have the raw materials already. Just go ahead and do it! You won’t regret it.
I spend a lot of time thinking about soup. Its not so much that I eat soup all the time, or have some unnatural fascination with the stuff. It is more that soup is one of my biggest tasks at work, and that I try to have a wide variety of soups through the week. Things get repeated because they work well. (In this case “work well” can have a few meanings, durable, taste good, easy and quick to put together would be chief among the meanings.) At work I pretty much have free rein to do what I want, and generally nobody has a problem with that. There have been a few missteps along the way though. I have really grown to enjoy soup, both eating and making it. Up to the point where I had to actually make soup I never really got it, but that is probably because most of my experience was with canned soups.
Now that it is colder I am starting to think about heartier soups. I love potato soups! There is so much room to vary them, and although potatoes taste great they kind of work as a blank canvas in soups. Generally these are pureed soups, but I have made soups that are not. The trick to a lot of my soup making is leftovers. When there are little scraps of food that don’t really have a purpose they tend to end up on one of my shelves in the walk-in. That is where I keep soups, scraps, and items that I need for my station. Today I’ll talk about one of my favorites. I like to call it baked potato soup! There is no actual recipe as such, it is just a general idea. This is NOT the delicate pure white potato soup that you generally see, it is certainly not vichyssoise (although I really do enjoy vichyssoise.), and it is better than anything Campbell’s has ever put in a can!
Give this a try sometime. I’m not going to give you quantities because I just don’t have them, and if I told you what I do at work you’d end up with more soup than you could possible eat!
oil or butter
leftover roasted potatoes (I end up with red skinned potatoes, but I am pretty sure you could use whatever you have.)
cooked bacon, diced (less than the onion, it’s just there to give you a nice flavor)
liquid (chicken stock, veggie stock, water – clear-ish is what you want, tasty would be nice too)
a bay leaf or two
shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
That’s all that goes in the soup. You’re going to need a way to puree this one. A blender or food processor will be your best bet here. First heat your pot and add the oil or butter, and get that hot. The add the bacon and onions, add a little salt too, sweat this until the onions start turning clear. Dump in your roasted potatoes. I like to kind of mix things around, although I don’t really have any idea if it does anything in this case! Add your liquid and bay leaves. My only advice here is to just cover everything. Make sure all the potatoes are in the water (or whatever), but you don’t have tons of extra liquid. I’ll try to level them out and then add the liquid. Bring this up to a boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer until the potatoes are nice and tender. They don’t have to be mush, just tender.
Once you’ve got your potatoes tender, your going to need to strain this. Obviously, keep the liquid. Spoon the potatoes, onions and bacon into your food processor. Skip the bay leaves though, and either toss them in the trash or add them back to the pot. Puree the potato mixture until smooth working batches. (Make sure you have the lid on whatever you are using tightly, you do NOT want to wear potato puree!) Return the potatoes to the pot, and add the liquid back, and stir. Return the soup to a boil, and back to a simmer. Add your cream, again, no real guide here, I just stir it in until I like how it looks, and I can taste it. Cheese I just put some in, and taste for it. You’re not going to need a huge amount. Adjust everything with salt and pepper, and enjoy!
The great thing about soups like this is that they have nice body, and don’t need any kind of thickening, because the potatoes do that for you. So, gluten-free, thick, tasty, hearty, warming soup for a cold day!