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.
Last night I was thinking, what would make a really good dinner? Something warming, tasty, simple, and filling without being too much. I decided soup. I ran down a few choices for Amy, lentil, potato or black bean.(I pretty much had everything on hand for any of them.) She picked potato. I delivered what is probably her new favorite soup! Loaded baked potato soup. It is very simple, and very satisfying. We both have some leftovers, and she’s even got some to run to her mom.
So, what do you need? I can’t really give you quantities on a lot of this, because it wasn’t measured.
Potatoes, I had seven, peel them, and cut them into small-ish pieces
bacon, 2 slices, split lengthwise, and then cut into small pieces
1 red onion diced, you could use a white onion here
1 TBSP vegetable oil
chicken broth and water
2 bay leaves
cheddar cheese, I used about 4 ounces
heavy cream (whole milk would work too, or both which is what we had)
First, in a large pot heat the oil over medium heat, and add the bacon. You’re looking to render the bacon, so you want to brown it, and cook down a large percentage of the fat. This will give you a nice flavor. Once the bacon is browned, add the onion, a little salt, and cook until the onion is translucent. Next add the potatoes, broth, water, bay leaves, and bring up to a boil. I used roughly 50% broth. Basically what I want to do is to cover everything, but that is it. Once you have a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover it, and let it go for about 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t need to cook the potatoes until they are mush, basically you want them to be tender.Once the potatoes are tender turn off the heat. You have a few options at this point. You could strain the soup, reserve the liquid and process the solids in a food processor, puree with a hand blender, puree in a blender, or use a potato masher. However you do it you want to end up with a smooth soup. I used a potato masher, and really liked the results. It was a bit more rustic than a blender would have turned out, but it was also a lot less mess, and hassle. You may also want to fish out the bay leaves at this point. They aren’t poisonous, but they are not a lot of fun to eat.
Once the pureeing is done, return everything to the pot, and turn the heat back on. You’re going to finish the soup. Start by adding the cream. I add it until I get a nice color, and flavor from it. Next add the cheese. How much is kind of up to you, and how much you like cheese with your potatoes! Taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning with salt, and white pepper. Bring the soup up to a boil, and serve. That is really all there is to it. You could easily adapt this to be a vegetarian soup by dropping the bacon, and using veggie broth or all water, and since the potatoes do all of the thickening this soup will ever need the gluten-free situation is well in hand.Bowl it up, and enjoy! Also, keep in mind if you have leftover potatoes that you want to use up, this is a perfect place for them! In that case, all you have to do is get them hot, and soften up a bit. That will save you some time. This soup is very easy and perfect for dinner on a cold night! OK, maybe you CAN handle the soup!