With chickens and turkeys, the breast meat and wings are considered the most desirable, but that doesn’t mean we cannot find use for the backs, thighs, and drumsticks. In fact, we are going to use the whole bird!Tips:
Tip: Rendering Poultry
If you ever roasted a chicken or turkey, you probably skimmed off plenty of fat to make gravy. Don’t waste that fat. It is ideal to give poultry recipes more flavor. Use every part of the chicken or turkey.
This begins when you take the finished bird out of the oven. A turkey or chicken will need to rest for about 20 minutes before it is carved. However, it does not need to stay in the roasting pan. Transfer the bird to a carving board or platter using sturdy utensils firmly placed to support the bird’s structure. A hot bird is still heavy and juices may flow from inside, so wear protective silicon gloves or oven mitts. Be sure to keep the bird as level as possible and situate the platter or carving board right next to the roasting pan, so you must only lift, shift, and place the bird a few inches away from the hot roasting pan.
Keep your protective handwear on to remove the rack and tip the contents of the roasting pan into a large liquid measuring cup or other heatproof receptacle. Set this aside to cool. When the fat and juices are completely cool, pour them into a glass bowl with a lid and store overnight.
The fat will rise to the top and the juices may begin to gel on the bottom. Scrape off the fat and store in a boiled clean jar with a lid. Reserve the juices for gravy. You can measure and store juices in the freezer in desired quantities and know you have exactly what you need for gravy.Ingredients:
1 turkey or large chicken carcass
Or as many as three frozen rotisserie chicken carcasses
Enough chicken or turkey broth to cover your carcasses (For chickens, I use Swanson’s chicken broth. For turkeys, I use Better than Bouillon roasted turkey base. Measure one teaspoon of Better than Bouillon for each cup of water that you need.)
1 large onion
Your choice of savory spices (Start with a ½ teaspoon of each)
rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley
You can also add: marjoram, tarragon (start with a ¼ teaspoon of each)
Better than Bouillon to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Vegetables of your choice such as:
potatoes, carrots, green beans, celeryInstructions:
Once you have served the meat off the bird, you are left with bones. Turkeys and chickens make excellent soup. Even the small rotisserie chickens you might buy at the grocery store on special can be used to make soup. Only you may need as many as three carcasses to make soup, so store the carcass in the freezer until you have enough.
Place the carcass(es) in a stockpot and cover with broth. Heat the pot to boiling, then lower the temperature to simmer. Watch the pot to make sure the liquid doesn’t boil dry. The larger the carcass, the longer it will take to boil it down. Soup is a great thing to make while you are doing something else—like baking cookies. Just let the bones simmer away while you are puttering around the kitchen.
Once the bones have been cooking for several hours, turn off the burner and let the pot cool. This will take a while. On a Winter night, we sometimes turn the pot off at night, affix the lid tightly by using heavy rubber bands between the pot top and the stockpot handles, and set it outside on the picnic table. So far, the raccoons have left it alone.
Once the pot is cool, you can take the bones out of the broth. Large bones can be removed by hand. To assure you get all the tiny bones, pour the contents of the stockpot through a colander over another stockpot or Dutch oven. This will trap both bones and bits of meat that you might want to return to the pot. To sort the meaty bits from the bones, don a pair of food-safe gloves and pick through the contents. The bones will be hard.
You can use the broth immediately or refrigerate it for another day. If you have boiled the bones long enough and then refrigerated contents of the pot, you may find you have a cold, cloudy gelatinous goo. Before the invention of gelatin packets, this is how cooks made gelatin. Warm the gelatin back into liquid form in a large pot.
Add the onion and spices to taste. Let this simmer for a while before you taste. Add more spices as necessary. If the broth remains bland, add a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon. Allow the paste time to melt into the soup, stir and taste. There is usually enough salt in bouillon products to sufficiently salt a soup.
Add vegetables. Meanwhile, prepare your favorite egg noodles, pasta, or matzo balls, but make these separately according to the package directions. Try using melted chicken or turkey fat instead of cooking oil in the matzo balls.
Once the vegetables are tender, serve the soup over pasta, egg noodles or matzo balls.
You can leave matzo balls in the soup overnight, but noodles may lose integrity. I usually store leftover soup separately from leftover egg noodles or pasta.