I’ve known for a really long time that it was pretty much sacrilege to throw away the bones and carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey (or any roasted poultry, for that matter). However, I totally cop to being lazy for an equally long time. After spending days preparing for Thanksgiving, the last thing I want to do the next day or the day after that is spend more time in the kitchen. However, last year I finally bit the bullet and made sure I saved all of the turkey scraps, carcass and all, once we were done cleaning up Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of days later, I threw all of it, along with a bunch of vegetables and aromatics, into a pot and let it simmer for a couple of hours. The house smelled fabulous, and once everything was strained, I had about four quarts of homemade turkey stock. I froze a couple, gave one to my grandparents, and started using the other right away.
The stock is so flavorful, and, to my surprise, it really didn’t take much time at all. You really just throw everything into a pot and let it go. I think I spent the afternoon catching up on Homeland episodes while the pot simmered ;-)
This Thanksgiving, don’t throw away the turkey carcass or leftover bones! If you aren’t going to make the stock immediately, put everything into a zip-top bag and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or freeze for a week or two. Then, while you’re relaxing or getting the house decorated for Christmas, throw everything in the pot and let it work its magic. When it’s done, you’ll have some fabulous turkey stock, which is perfect for any recipe that you’d use chicken stock, or in any of these dishes that are perfect for using up leftover turkey: Turkey, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup, Turkey Pot Pie, or Turkey Tetrazzini.
Do you have a favorite recipe for using up Thanksgiving leftovers?
Don't throw away that turkey carcass from Thanksgiving! Use it to make a flavorful homemade stock that you can freeze and use for months!
Turkey carcass and bones from 14-pound turkey
large yellow onion
(peeled and cut into large chunks)
(cut into large chunks)
sprigs fresh parsley
sprigs fresh thyme
1. Place the turkey carcass and bones in a large stockpot and cover with at least 5 quarts of water, or enough to ensure that the water covers it by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any fat or foam that rises to the surface.
2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Reduce the heat to low so that the stock is at a very slow simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.
3. Add the parsley and thyme to the stock and simmer for an additional 2 hours.
4. Pour the stock into a large bowl through a fine-mesh sieve and discard all of the solids. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until a noticeable skin forms on the surface. Using a spoon, skim off the layer of fat, then let the stock cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove the layer of fat that has collected on the top of the stock, then portion out the stock into quart-size containers or freezer-safe ziploc bags and store. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up 6 months.