What exactly DO I do with a turkey carcass?
This was a question I asked for years, right before I surreptiously dumped the whole greasy mess into the trash and hoped that I wouldn’t be kicked out of the League of Responsible Dutch Women. Fortunately, my very NOT-Dutch father-in-law came to my rescue with this easy method of dealing with a turkey carcass and coming out waaaayyyyyy ahead.
I’m posting this now because this takes a very little bit of preparation and is so worth doing.
First of all, I start with a big, heavy, deep stock pot on the counter right next to the turkey as it’s being carved up for dinner. Into the stock pot goes:
- giblets (which I can’t stand to deal with any other way)
- meat scraps
- basically everything–even those things that you can’t eat (like the bones)
- enough water to cover the carcass
Before I even sit down for a holiday dinner, that stock pot is on the back burner, starting to simmer. After dinner, if there are dribs and drabs of gravy that don’t get saved as leftovers or if there are leftover drippings from the pan, all that goes into the stockpot.
I bring the pot up to a boil and then turn it down as low as I can. I keep the pot covered, the burner on, and enough water in it to keep the carcass covered. I let this pot simmer overnight on the stove for 18-24 hours total. I don’t want the pot of stuff to cool down but I also don’t want it to boil. I want a steady simmer. This, of course, extends that holiday turkey smell in your kitchen for another day too!
Then I take a colander, line it with cheesecloth (leaving the ends of the cheesecloth hanging over both sides), and place the colander over a large bowl. Then I pour the contents of the stock pot into and through the colander. The cheesecloth in the colander catches all the chunks and lets the liquid (stock) flow through into the bowl.
After all the juice has drained through, I gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and…..DUMP the whole thing in the trash! The large bowl is full of the richest, yummiest stock that I then freeze in small containers and use for soups and potpies.
If you use the cheap cheesecloth you can buy in the baking aisle of the grocery store, you probably need to have at least two layers in the colander. I have, on occasion, used unbleached muslin to strain. Then I washed the muslin afterwards.
This might sound like it’s a lot of work because it takes about 24 hours, but it really isn’t. It takes a long time, but requires very little effort. I can’t begin to tell you how much better this homemade stock is than anything you can buy in a can.