Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's Give Thanks Part V: 1 Turkey Carcass 3 Meals

I really hate the word carcass. But when I consulted my handy thesaurus for less graphic sounding alternatives, the options were pretty morbid themselves; body, cadaver, corpse, remains, shell....its not pretty.
But I needed to be specific that these are not recipes for leftover turkey, these are recipes that utilize the bones and the bits of meat that cling to them. One 20 pound turkey carcass can yield 3 recipes, and depending on your serving sizes and size of your family, at least 6 meals. 
My method for brined turkey is here, but if you did not brine your turkey, you will want to add some extra seasoning, which will be listed at the end of the post. If your family serves the wings and drumsticks on the bone, you will not be able to do all 3 recipes, so just pick your favorite and make one nice pot of soup. Also, you will probably want to start this process in the morning, as it is kind of an all day thing.
1. You will begin with 3 large pots and a very sharp knife. Remove the wing, leg and thigh bones from one side of the bird and place in a pot. Do the same for the other side, adding those to the second pot. Finally, put the entire body of the bird into your third pot, cutting into several pieces if necessary to fit. Cover all 3 with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for as long as is needed for bones to be completely bare. It took mine about 4 hours. As mentioned, if your turkey was brined you will not need to add anything to your water and bones, the saltiness and seasonings will be sufficient to make a wonderful stock.
2. Remove all bones and cartilage from each pot and continue simmering as you add the remaining ingredients to each one.

For Herbed Noodle Soup add:
2 diced carrots
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
chunks of leftover meat (if more meat is desired)
2 cups farfalle or other noodles (add after vegetables are tender)

For Spicy Sicilian Soup add:
2 diced carrots
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 can Rotel, do not drain
chunks of leftover meat (if more meat is desired)
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta (add after vegetables are tender)
Black pepper to taste

For White Chili add:
2 cans navy beans, drained
1 can cannellini beans, drained
2 packages "White Chicken Chili" seasoning
chunks of leftover meat (if more meat is desired)

Simmer each of these until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is al dente. For the White Chili you need only simmer until flavors are combined and beans are heated through. Because I serve soup with sandwiches or salads for dinner, I then separated each recipe into 2 gallon sized bags, then froze them flat on a cookie sheet so that they can be neatly stacked in the freezer. We eat all of our leftover turkey meat with the leftover sides or on sandwiches, so I did not add any additional meat to my soups and they are still very rich and hearty. A lot of meat comes off of the bones since I am not very thorough about "picking" the turkey. Talk about being resourceful! With the original holiday dinner,  our leftover meals, plus the soups and chili, one turkey has yielded 10 meals for my family! 

*If your turkey was not brined, you will want to add the following to each pot of water and bones: 1 whole stalk of celery, 1 whole carrot, 1 quartered onion, salt and pepper to taste. Remove the whole aromatics when you remove your bones.


  1. Oh what a great idea to do with a leftover turkey! :) And don't worry... I don't think carcass is too morbid at all, it is what it is! I just found your blog and have loved getting to know you better... hope you don't mind if I follow along!

    new follower :)

    (P.S. Do you have a GFC button so I can follow you "officially"?)

  2. I'm so glad that you are enjoying it! Thanks for following. Looking for my GFC gadget right now....hmmm, maybe I accidentally got rid of it while updating my lay out.