Hopefully, the advantages of roasting a turkey every once and again, even if it’s not a holiday, are obvious. Depending on how many people you’ve got around raiding the fridge, you could be picking meat off of that sucker for weeks. Possibilities for leftovers are endless: cold sliced turkey breast sandwiches (with swiss cheese and the bread spread with leftover cranberry sauce), hot turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy, turkey pot pie… etc.
I recently picked up a “post-holiday sale” turkey from the freezer bin at the grocery store, and my husband said, “How big of one are we getting?” I responded, “The biggest one they’ve got, of course!” Seriously, your level of effort is the same for a 22-pounder as a 10-pounder, and the leftovers will freeze well. So if you’re going to go for it, you may as well go all the way.
Now, this is not a post on the best way to roast your turkey. That is a holy war I’m not about to jump into right now. (I’m stilled nursing my wounds from suggesting to my mother that she shouldn’t stuff her turkey to prevent overcooking and dryness of the meat.) Rather, this is a post with a “recipe” for possibly the best leftover result of putting in that roasting effort – turkey carcass soup.
That’s right – when you’ve picked all the meat you could possibly want to pick off of that bird, there is still an odd collection of meat scraps, fat scraps, cartilage and bones that, when slowly simmered, makes a delicious stock. Don’t even think of tossing it in the trash! Here at Home Cooking Well, we’re dedicated to the food bang for your buck, and what better way to derive value than to use every last bit of your $0.69/lb masterpiece in the pursuit of deliciousness?
Admittedly, this is not so much of a recipe as a “throw whatever you like and have on hand in there,” but this is what worked for me tonight. Be liberal with your variations.
1 turkey carcass, as stripped of meat as you want
1 cube chicken boullion (or 1 tsp “Better than Boullion”)
3 carrots, halved lengthwise, then thickly sliced
4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, halved then sliced
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 c. brown rice
1 bouquet garni
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
generous grinding of black pepper
1/2 c. dry white wine
Put all ingredients in large crock pot. Fill with water to cover ingredients, or to 1-inch below the top of the crock. Simmer on low all day long. This can also, of course, be done on the stove top, though it’s not quite as busy-lifestyle friendly — just use a large stock pot, bring to the boil, and then simmer gently at least until rice is cooked (about 1 hour), but ideally 2 hours or more to properly infuse flavor.
Serve with store bought or homemade rolls – the big yeasty kind, for sopping up the soup.
Remember to avoid eating the bouquet garni or bay leaf (though neither will really hurt you) or the turkey bones (could hurt), or fish these things out before serving. If you have any suggestions about how to strain the bones out while still letting those delicious meat fragments cook off into the soup, I’m all ears.