Using It All

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, I thought I might leave the turkey recipes for you to find via searches here and abroad and, instead, focus on something I'm very passionate about: using it all. Too many people roast this giant bird, only to remove the meat from the bones and then throw away the carcass. Don't toss those bones! Instead, make stock. If you think that sounds like a lot of work and toiling over your stove, pull out your slow cooker and let's get to work!

When I roast a turkey, setting up my slow cooker is the first thing I do after I've carved it and the feast is done. The carcass, having been picked clean of the edible meat, still has a lot of flavor and nutrients to offer and stock is a perfect way to harness it. I add some onion, celery, and carrot. Then some herbs, both fresh and dried, before I fill the slow cooker to the top with water. Then I cover it, turn it on low, and go to bed. When I wake up, my nest smells amazing and my slow cooker has transformed its contents into a fantastic stock.

As soon as I've had my first cup of coffee (I would never try this before that!), I remove the bones, vegetables, and herbs (now they've given their all!) and strain the rest of the liquid through a fine sieve. The filtered stock gets ladled into clean quart jars, sealed, and stored in the back of my refrigerator for use in soups, stews, risottos, and all manner of sauces and other dishes. It makes for a delicious holiday season. So I present to you the recipe -- one more thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving!

Easy Overnight Turkey Carcass Stock

  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Salt, to taste

After removing all edible meat from the turkey put the bones, skin, cooking juices, etc. in your slow cooker.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and herbs on top of the bones and fill the crock pot almost to the top with tap water (leaving about ½” at the top). If you are missing any of the herbs or vegetables, simply omit them. The flavor might not have the same depth, but it can be made without all of the ingredients listed.

Turn the slow cooker on low when getting ready for bed and cook all night long or alternatively you could start it in the morning and cook on “low” for 8 – 10 hours during the day.

After the stock is done cooking turn off the heat and, using a soup ladle, pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all herbs/bones/etc.

Either refrigerate or freeze the stock for future use. I like to fill quart canning jars and store them, covered tightly, in the back of the refrigerator. One batch of turkey carcass stock tends to last me until after Christmas, when I'm sure to make another turkey!

  • Yields: 3-4 quarts turkey stock
  • Preparation Time: Overnight

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