Making Broth

Our dry brine method for the turkey turned out well. I’ve marked up the recipe with corrections and modifications, so we’re all set for next year. At some point, I’ll have to show you my anal retentive recipe system. It involves plastic binder sheets. The secret recipe in our Thanksgiving Dinner? OCD.

We did have one hiccup on the Thanksgiving Dinner. My supposedly “fresh” turkey was frozen in the inside, which threw off the cooking times. Next year, I’ll be more vigilant in my bird inspection.

This morning, I’m making turkey broth. Turkey and chicken broth are totally an “After the Zombie Apocalypse” meal. It costs pennies, it’s healthy, and it creates a huge volume of food.

Broth is an ancient food. Every culture has their own way of making soup broth, but the basics are the same. Leftover meat and vegetables are slow boiled for several hours. The water becomes full of wonder flavors and smells and becomes a food that can sustain a village.

While you’re making the broth, you can imagine yourself over a fire pit in the Sahara Desert or in the jungles of Vietnam. There is a women there swirling around root vegetables and animal bones. There was a woman doing something similar in the kitchens of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and another one in an Etruscan hut. By making broth, you are connecting yourself with women throughout the world and through history. That’s potent stuff.

This morning, I had Steve remove any good turkey bits still on the bones. They’ll be part of a turkey quesadilla tonight. Then he put all the remaining bits in a big pot. If you stuffed your bird with herbs, onions, and lemons, like I did, then throw everything but the citrus fruit in the pot. The lemons will make the broth bitter, so they have to be tossed out. Everything else  — rubbery skin, bones, greasy bits — will become the basis for goodness.

Add some roughly chopped carrots, onions, celery, and parsley. The purpose of these vegetables is simply to add flavor, so don’t worry about shape or size. You don’t even have to peel the carrots. The parsley can still have a stem. These are the broth-makin’ vegetables, which will all be filtered out later on.

Then you fill the pot up with lots of water. The pot should be about 3/4 filled up. Keep a water glass near by, because you’ll have to keep adding water.

Don’t worry if the chicken or the turkey isn’t totally submerged in the water at first. Stir from time to time. After an hour in the pot, the turkey or chicken carcass will break down.

Let it cook for about two or three hours. Low temp. With or without a lid.

Then put a colander over another big pot. Pour the broth in. Discard the mess in the colander, and you have the perfect beginning for a soup.

It’s so flavorful that you don’t have to do much. Add a fresh carrot and some rice. Use it to make polenta or grits. Add black beans and cilantro. Endless possibilities.

It also freezes really well. I think we’ll end up using about half this broth tonight in a carrot and rice soup. The other half is going in mason jars in the freezer.

3 thoughts on “Making Broth

  1. If you read a recipe for Scotch broth, you will learn that you’re wrong to discard the solids so early. The bones can be reused until they are white and pitted!


  2. Agree completely about the value of broth. But I have to start at least one batch of broth before the bird, using the neckbone. Cannot make gravy or stuffing with chicken broth! I make a batch of broth on Wednesday, and roast a couple of turkey wings for the pan drippings, and make my gravy on Wednesday also. Gravy reheats wonderfully, and getting the gravy done beforehand makes the actual Turkey Day much easier. Lots of gravy is a big deal in our house..


  3. I second the cooking time suggestion – we do our turkey soup for about 6 hours (and add any leftover stuffing or gravy, which helps to thicken it nicely). I’m having some right now cooked with angel hair pasta. My mom cooked her turkey on Weds, I did the gravy Thursday, and we did the soup on ‘Friday. Two big pots, one for the carcass, the other for the legs and wings, and we have loads of soup to freeze.


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