Thursday, December 13, 2012

One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure

I grew up in an era when almost nothing was wasted when it came to food. When it came to Thanksgiving I always preferred  to stay at home for dinner. One of the main reasons was that my mom made a great turkey dinner. The other reason was strictly selfish. If we went somewhere else for dinner there were no “left-overs” to have when we went home. 
Laura's Turkey ready to carve
One man's junk is another man's treasure! As soon as all of the meat was carved from the turkey mom would put the carcass in a brown paper bag. The bag was not going into the trash however, it was going to collect any excess fat from the turkey. Later, or the next day she would put the carcass into a stock pot and cover it 3/4 of the way with water. She would then add rough cut carrots, onions, and celery and bring the water to a boil to make soup. Mom would use the left-over turkey meat to make open-face turkey Sandwiches with gravy  Chicken a la King, or turkey tetrazzini.
Now where's that knife?
This year we were invited to our nieces for Thanksgiving dinner. Since I knew we wouldn't be home for Thanksgiving we made a turkey dinner last week. My mother-in-law went up early to help and everyone brought some side dishes. When we arrived I learned that she made two fresh turkey's weighing about 38 pounds total. One of them was already carved and one to go. This one had the stuffing in the turkey. After getting all of the dressing out, I carved half of the turkey and my niece carved the other half. 
This is making me hungry again
After carving the bulk of the meat off of the turkey in beautiful slices, my daughter harvested the remaining meat off of the carcass to make a stock for reheating turkey, or to make soup. I only found some celery to use and started a pot of water with some celery in it and added the turkey carcass to the pot.  About 1-1/2 hours later I removed the carcass and bones and let the stock cool
Doesn't this look good?
Our niece was really prepared to send her guests home with left-overs. She had even purchased plastic to go containers and zip lock bags just for that purpose.
Making turkey soup is a lot like making broccoli. At the beginning, the smell of boiling turkey is not very appetizing. After simmering for hours it starts to take on a smell of really good soup. It is amazing how mush meat comes off of the bones after boiling.
As the stock cooled, some of the fat would rise to the top. Mom skimmed this fat off using a piece of cheese cloth on a slotted spoon. Skimming the stock would make it clearer. If she didn’t make the soup right away, she would refrigerate the clarified stock once it had cooled. In the refrigerator more fat would rise to the top of the stock and turn solid. Mom would scrape this excess fat off before she finished making the soup. So it really was low fat soup at this time.  
When mom was ready to finish making the soup, she would reheat the stock. The longer that you cook the stock, the more concentrated and intense the flavor becomes. While the stock was on the stove, mom began chopping onions, celery, and carrots. She would add these to the stock and simmer until they were soft and tender. Mom would then add the meat that she removed from the bones to the stock. Depending on her mood, or availability, she would add some cooked broad noodles, rice, barley, or her homemade soup dumplings to the stock. At this time she would add some chopped parsley as well. Finally she would adjust the salt and pepper as she went along. If the noodles, rice, or barley soaked up to much of the stock she could always add bullion cubes and water, or a can of chicken stock. At this stage of the soup process, the aroma made the whole house smell incredible. So next time someone asks “who wants the turkey or chicken carcass, grab it and make some homemade soup. Enjoy!   
1         whole                           Turkey carcass
            as needed                    Water (to cover turkey in pot)
1          cans (10.5 oz.)           Chicken Broth (optional)
1          cup                              Onion (chopped)
1          cup                              Celery (chopped)
1          cup                              Carrots (dices, sliced, or baby)
3          cups                             Noodles, barley, rice or dumplings**
2-3       tbsp.                            Parsley (fresh chopped)
            to taste                        Salt
            to taste                        Pepper
NOTE: ** The noodles, barley, rice were precooked and added at the end so that they didn’t soak up the stock while cooking.
Place the carcass into a large stock pot and put in enough water to cover it. Add about 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the water to come to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.  Remove the carcass and all of the bones with a slotted spoon and allow to drain. Pick off any remaining meat on the bones and set to the side. Allow the stock to cool. Pour the cooled stock through a fine strainer or cheese cloth to remove any remaining particles in the stock. If you refrigerate the cooled and strained stock for a couple of hours, any excess fat will rise to the top. Scrape off the excess fat and you will have the beginning of a low fat soup stock. 
Chop the onions, celery, and carrots while reheating the soup stock. Once the stock is hot, add these and simmer until the vegetables are soft and tender. To the stock add the reserved meat. If you are using noodles, rice, or barley, cook them first according to the package directions. If you are making mom’s homemade soup dumplings, add them directly to the stock.
Finally add the chopped parsley and adjust the salt and pepper. Cook for one hour. If the noodles, rice, or barley soak up to much of the turkey stock, add bullion cubes and water, or a can of chicken or turkey stock. Enjoy!   
Mom’s Dumplings
6 whole Eggs (beaten)
1-1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Tsp. Salt
In a separate bowl mix well beaten eggs, flour and salt. Beat these ingredients together until glossy and thick. Five minutes before serving the soup, drop spoonfuls of dumpling mix into the soup.
Cook until the dumplings rise. Serve immediately

© TMelle 2012