We always get at least one extra turkey at Thanksgiving because the prices are so good. And when we did, we realized we still had a 23 pound bird in our freezer.
To make room for this year’s extra turkey, we had an early Thanksgiving feast. I really enjoyed this week of good eats. We had easy, tasty protein to add to our rice bowls, salads and sandwiches. We also could split the favorites of the classic meal into many different meals throughout the week.
As an added benefit I can freeze some so I have safe roasted turkey on the ready for my daughter, who has several food allergies. It’s great to pre-prep a quick snack or meal for her.
I like to cook my turkey in a roaster. I always make a large pot of stock from the neck and gizzards, liver and heart while the meat is roasting. I put the neck, the ‘innards’, fresh sage, garlic and a quartered onion to simmer in a large stockpot. I let it bubble away all afternoon and used it for gravy, basting and stuffing.
After I’d made gravy for our early turkey dinner, I canned the stock that was left and had five quarts of stock just from the stockpot.
Since it was such a large turkey for the four of us, John sliced it down, while I picked off all the usable meat for some turkey salad and other future dinners.
Then I took the bones and returned them to my now clean roaster with some more onions, garlic and this time a couple carrots and celery stalks. I filled the roaster with water and let it simmer all night through the next day.
It was some work to get the fat off the top, but I found that cheese cloth or a paper towel along the top skimmed well. (A gravy separator will work well too.) From the simmered bones, I got another thirteen quarts of stock.
It only takes 25 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure to can stock. In years past I have frozen it and while it may be a bit quicker to freeze stock, I have had to dodge large frozen blocks of it falling out of the bulging freezer.
Then when I would go to use it I would need to defrost it and often the container it was may have been cracked from an escape attempt, and the whole thing was just a production.
With canned stock, it is just easy breezy ready to use. I just pop the top and go. It’s definitely worth the time invested to clean the jars and do the canning properly.
I also plan to make some vegetable stock with the veggies that tend to be on sale for the making of thanksgiving feasts. I also freeze any of the celery or carrots that aren’t crisp enough to eat or use the trimmings from other dishes over time.
It is super simple because you can just toss the cutting and leftover bits into a container and pull that out when you are ready to make veggie stock.
When you add the garlic and onions, don’t stress about peeling perfectly. I just pour mine through a strainer to get all the big chunks out. I leave the garlic whole, and quarter the onions.
So for much less than what the turkey stock alone would have been at the grocery store, I got gallons of turkey and veggie stock.
Plus we got a fresh roasted turkey, yummy turkey sandwiches, and all the other favorite leftovers.
I can season the stocks to taste when I am ready to use it and I know every ingredient. It doesn’t get more perfect or basic than that.
One recipe that I love to make with the stock and some frozen turkey is dumplings. Just google gluten free vegan chicken dumplings if you need to avoid wheat, milk or egg. We have to avoid those things, and searching for vegan recipes makes things simpler. I just don’t tell the vegan dumplings that they’re cooking up in my meaty turkey stock!
If you don’t have food limitations, make your favorite dumplings, and toss them into a pefect, homemade stock. Really in a rush? You want these pot pie noodles. They’re great, and locally made.