Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheap Bastid Finally Kills Off the Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s taken me 2 months but that bird is finally gone. Well not completely. We’re having the last of the turkey noodle soup tonight with home made French bread and I’ve got a bunch of turkey stock that will last me several months.

But that damned turkey breast carcass is finally out of the freezer. All that’s left is a small mound of bones which now resides in the garbage.

The weather forecast for the weekend was for rain and blustery winds—which is the closest thing that the San Diego area will ever get to a blizzard. So I decided it was time to finish off the carcass with stock and soup.

You can make your own any time you want. All you need is to keep the carcass of a turkey, turkey breast or chicken with shreds of meat still attached. Do what I did, take out your slow cooker or your stock pot and put in about 6-8 cups of water and put it on slow heat. Now toss in your carcass (I mean I just took mine out of the freezer, pulled it out of the freezer bag and dropped it into the slow cooker).

That’s all you need to do. Except if you’re like me, go check it occasionally, especially after it starts to send off that fantastic aroma. After a couple of hours it’ll start to look like weak broth and a couple hours after that it will look and smell rich and start to taste a bit richer. I’m going for stock here, not broth. Broth is for wusses.

And after 4 or 5 hours you might want to add another cup or so of water. So after 6 to 8 hours I turn off the heat and slide the cooker pot into the fridge overnight. The next morning what I’m going to do is skim any congealed solids off the top and throw it away.

Then, strain the liquid getting out all those meat bits and bones which could cause a problem. After you do that, just pour the liquid into ice cube trays and turn it into “stock-cicles”. Let them freeze solid and then put the cubes into freezer bags for use throughout the year.

But I wasn’t done. I was going to make stock AND soup. I kept about a cup and a half of the stock for “stock-cicles”. And I used the rest—about 2 ½ cups as my soup base. Then I picked through the meat—shredding it and discarding the bones and any remaining skin. What I had left was just about a pound of turkey.

Sample the broth! Add salt and pepper a little bit at a time. I also add garlic powder and cumin (why do I add cumin? Because we like cumin!). Remember, go easy with the spices—you can always add more, but once it’s in, you can’t take it out.

That went into the pot and I let it simmer for several hours. From there, I added a little over a cup each of diced onion, diced carrot, diced celery and diced jalapeno. I let that cook for a couple more hours and added 2 or 3 handsful of frozen corn.

Now about an hour before serving, toss in about half a bag of egg noodles. By now this is going to be smelling so fantastic that you’ll be drooling. Sometimes I make drop dumplings for this soup, but not this time. They’re fantastically easy to make. Instead, I sliced some French bread and lightly toasted it in the oven for dipping into the soup.

Oh man, it was fantastic. Stick to the ribs good. Silky, tasty texture—just enough spices to bring out the full flavor of the soup. And what’s best is that this was really inexpensive.

The Cheap Bastid Test: This started out as an 8 pound turkey breast. We got 3 dinners and several sandwiches from it. And we just got 2 more nights of dinner out of the soup plus multiple meals with a flavor boost from the homemade stock. That’s a bargain. And for the soup, I used the left-over carcass and meat and added about $2.50 worth of vegetables and noodles.

In today’s world, you have to stretch every dollar. It’s even better when the result of the stretching is comfort food this tasty and nourishing.

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

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