During a trip to Pho #1 (delicious Vietnamese noodle soup!) around my birthday, I was reminded by contrast how wasteful the Western diet is. The menu included options for—along with more traditional American cuts of meat—tendons and organ meat. It got me to think about how much we carelessly discard, dishonoring the animal and losing out on nutritious substenance. Now, I’m not saying that I am ready to run out and learn how to cook kidney, but I did keep the thought in mind as we entered this season of excess.
So, this Christmas, I brought home the turkey carcasses from both households we dined with and set to work making sooo much super simple stock. Not only does stock make great use of any bones you may have left over from turkey (or chicken, or pork, or beef), it costs pennies to make and provides so much nutritious broth for other recipes! And, it is sooo easy. If you’ve already tossed your turkey carcass from this year, remember this next time, and meanwhile, place a big container in your freezer. Each time you eat bone-in chicken or pork ribs, simply toss the leftover bones into the container. You can also add carrot ends, onion tips, leek tops, or celery tops. When the container is full, make stock!
Over the past 2 evenings, I made four huge pots of stock—two with roasted turkey carcasses, one with a smoked turkey carcass I had frozen a while ago and one with a combination of pork rib bones and chicken bones I collected in the freezer. We won’t have to purchase broth for months, and these are so much more flavorful and have waaay less sodium than the kind you buy at the store. I plan on using the roasted turkey stock as a substitute for chicken broth, the smoked stock for greens, beans and soups like gumbo, and the pork/chicken broth as a base for Asian soups.
Super Simple Stock
This is really one of those “a little of this, a little of that” things, so feel free to improvise! As long as you have a decent amount of bones, some of the veggies, and water, you’re good! I don’t add much seasoning to mine while cooking so that I can add whatever I’d like to as I use each portion later on. The veggies don’t have to be pretty for this, either—They are just to add flavor and will be discarded once all of their flavor and nutrients enter the broth!
- 1 turkey carcass or large pot full of other bones (turkey, chicken or pork), well picked of meat, but with bits still on the bones
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 1-2 onions and/or 2-3 leek green pieces (use leek greens sparingly, they can be bitter)
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- If necessary, cut carcass into smaller pieces using kitchen shears or a large knife. Place bones in large stock pot or dutch oven.
- Halve carrots and celery. Peel and quarter onions. Peel garlic.
- Add vegetables to pot.
- Cover carcass and veggies with water.
- Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3-4 hours. Skim any foam that forms on top off occasionally.
- Remove large bones from pot with tongs. (If you are feeling extra ambitious, pick the leftover meat from the bones to use in turkey noodle soup!)
- Strain broth into large bowl or container and let cool in refrigerator overnight.
- Fat will separate to the top and solidify as broth cools—Skim it off.
- The broth will be somewhat gelatinous when it is cold. This is good! Gelatin is from bones (yep, those Jello Jigglers you munched on as a kid—bones.) Gelatinous broth means you got all the good nutrients from the bones. When you warm up the broth to cook with, it will liquify again.