Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nothing Wasted : How I Used 100 Percent of our Thanksgiving Turkey

Four days after Thanksgiving, our turkey was entirely utilized-- every bit of it, bones and all.

Here's how:

First, I bought a 21 lb, fresh, free range turkey at Sprouts Market and soaked it in brine. I cooked the giblets and the neck in a small crock pot overnight, feeding the meat to my dog and to our chickens over the next several days.

Next,  I roasted the bird in our new electric roaster at 450 for 30 minutes, then another 3 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. I was able to roast the turkey in our laundry room, leaving the oven available to warm our side dishes.

I wish I had taken photos of the bird on a platter, but we were too busy getting everything else ready.

As soon as the table was cleared, and before pie, I put the turkey carcass into our large crock pot, covered it with water, and set it on low.  I kept it on low for a day and a half.  Then I strained the broth into a bowl and divided the bones, meat and skin into bags for the freezer.  I will serve this to our chickens, about one bag per week.

Even though our turkey was well built -- due to his "free range life" -- a day and a half in the crock brought his stalwart bones to the point where I could crush them easily between my fingers, exposing  the marrow, which my chickens love; actually, the hens eat every single bone, but not all at once.

(We ate our share of the leftovers too.)

I poured the strained broth back into the crock pot, along with three of the biggest bones, an onion, 2 carrots, a stalk of celery, and 3 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and a stray pepper top from someones's lunch.

Then I cooked the broth for another a couple of days, adding water a few times. In this way, I was able to pull all the nutrition from the combined elements. Then I strained the stock, adding the vegetables to my compost bin.

Four days after eating our turkey, I made soup:

Creamed Turkey Soup and Dumplings.
~Saute 1 diced onion, one stalk celery and 2 cloves chopped garlic in 2 tbsp butter. Add 3 cups turkey stock (you could use chicken stock) and 3 cups water. 
~Pour into crock pot. 
~Add 1-2 sliced carrots and bits of turkey, about 2 cups I slightly shredded it with my fingers (after removing any 'surprises', because I don't like 'surprises.'
~Salt and pepper and do something else for a couple of hours. ( I went to yoga class.)
~Ladle about a cup of broth into a separate container and add 2 tbs cornstarch, mixing well and return to pot.
~Add some whole milk, cream or half and half, slowly, while stirring until it looks right.
~Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer.
~Add one pinch of love ( I add this to everything I make.)

 I found the dumpling recipe on the internet and cut it in half, because I was only serving 3 people but here is the uncut version.

Homemade Dumplings 
(Click here for a wheat free dumpling recipe)
~2 cups of all-purpose flour
~2 teaspoons of baking powder
~3/4 teaspoon of salt
~4 tablespoons margarine
~¾ - 1 cup water, or milk if preferred

~Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons of margarine. Add ¾ cup of water or milk and stir well. Add additional liquid as needed to form a soft dough that can be dropped by a large spoon into the soup.

~Using a large spoon, drop the dumpling dough into simmering Homemade Chicken Soup.
~Cover kettle{ I used my crock-pot} and simmer for 15 minutes. Do not remove the cover to check for doneness before the allotted time. This will cause the dumplings to "fall" and Instead of light fluffy dumplings, you will get dense dumplings. It is possible to cook the dumplings without a cover, but the results are better if they are covered. (Recipe found Here)

In conclusion: I learned how to use 100 per cent of a 20 lb turkey.
  1. Neck, Giblets to pets
  2. Dinner for 10
  3. Sent leftovers home with 3 families
  4. Made bone broth with carcass
  5. Leftover meal for 2
  6. Lunches for 2 days
  7. Bones cooked to crushing stage and divided into bags for chickens throughout the month.
  8. Creamed turkey soup.
  9. Leftover soup
  10. 1 quart stock to be used in stew 
  11. 2 trays broth ice cubes
  12. 2 cups turkey bits in lunch bags for dog's food.

Can you tell I'm pleased?
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  1. Whew! Nice work! Turkey soup and enchiladas are on the menu here today!

  2. You did one fantastic job with that turkey.I mostly use my crockpots around the holidays but I realize I really should use them every week.Great article Becky.
    Sandra Miller

    1. Thanks, Sandra. I have 4 crock pots. Today I'm making Beef Stew for Two in my small one...recipe coming soon. I have so much more interest in cooking in the morning than at 4-5 pm; that makes crocks a perfect choice for me.

  3. Well done! I love how you used every bit that you could of that turkey!

  4. Very Cool! I saved the bones and stock for a HUGE batch of broth. LOVE that you bought your turkey from Sprouts! I MISS Sprouts now that I'm on the east coast.
    Thanks so much for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist.
    Happy Tuesday! Come on over and share your latest posts.


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