Talkin’ turkey soup base :)

Thanks to another fabulous WinCo purchase this week–a 22.5 pound turkey I bought for $5.85 ($0.26/lb with a $50 purchase)–I dragged out one of my big pressure canners … and went on a quest for the perfect turkey soup base :)

I know. Thanksgiving is next week … and here I am cooking Turkey this week … but the turkey deal was too good to pass up, and–as always–there just wasn’t any room in my freezer for a turkey … especially not a 22.5 pound turkey.

In addition, we’re talking about–if the weather is on our side–maybe going on a short vacation trip for the long weekend. We’d originally talked about going back down to Yellowstone. My husband’s never been there before, and–after my recent visit–I’m dying to show it to him. Besides, it’s only a 12-14 hour drive for us, and–between the two of us–we can do that in a day, no problem! But Winter is unfortunately upon us, and–from the looks of the weather coming in through the PNW in advance of the holiday, including the snow forecast this weekend … which is already throwing flurries in our neighborhood–Yellowstone (and the route there) are going to be snow-packed and frozen solid before we can get there.

Oh well! There’s always Spring! Besides, there are lots of interesting things to see and do within just a few hours drive of the Seattle metro area, and we’re game to go see and do them … if the snow holds off, that is! :)

My husband isn’t much on overly-seasoned/glazed turkeys or hams for the holidays … and neither am I. We both prefer the taste of roasted bird to the taste of roasted herbs or whatever. Besides, I knew that the bulk of it was going into stock anyway … so I kept it simple. I roasted the turkey whole–with just a hint of salt, pepper and garlic powder–and then we ate a simple early holiday dinner from there … which was excellent!

Once we’d eaten our fill, I took the remaining breasts off the carcass and packaged them up to use for sandwiches and the like this upcoming week. Then I dumped the rest of the bird–bones and all–into my biggest stock pot.

Yes, I could have saved a LOT more meat from the bird overall, but I really bought the turkey to make jars of stock. I like having them around. Those jars of stock make quick lunches and dinners for yours truly–especially when my husband is on a total pizza-eating kick–plus, I use them as a base for lots of other dishes we both enjoy … so I wanted my stock rich, thick, and very meaty overall. I didn’t skimp. It allllll went in the pot :)

I added enough water to float the meat well, then turned the heat on high as I started prepping my savory additions. To the turkey and water, I added:

  • two whole heads of celery, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds.
  • five large Spanish onions, chopped
  • five bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • two tablespoons rosemary
  • two tablespoons garlic powder
  • two tablespoons onion powder
  • one tablespoon of fresh-cracked black pepper

NOTE: I did NOT add ANY salt to the pot. There’s a reason for that. My turkey was already seasoned when I baked it, including an adequate amount of salt. Because I don’t know exactly how much salt is left in the carcass, etc. … I don’t want to salt it now. I want to wait until it’s all cooked down before I adjust the salt … because you can always add more salt … but you can’t take it back out again.

Once my stock came to a boil, I put the top on the pot, cut the heat down to medium, and let it cook for about two hours.

By the time I lifted the lid again, it smelled amazing! I used an Asian spider (strainer) to pull all the solids out of the pot, putting them into a large flat pan. While the solids cooled, I added most of the remaining gravy I’d made the day before. That may sound crazy, but there’s method to my madness :) That gravy contained a ton of great roasted turkey flavor that I didn’t want to waste, I didn’t have any need for the rest of it right that minute, and–thinking ahead–I’d made the gravy with Clear Jel® anyway … so I didn’t have to worry about putting it in a canning jar.

Once the meat cooled enough to touch it, I picked all the bones, skin, fat, etc. out of it (with my dogs flanking either side of my feet, hoping for a handout!) before adding it back to the pot to reheat.

At this point, I tasted my stock for seasoning. We don’t have a problem with salt here in our house, but if you do in yours … leave it out. For us–given the way I plan to use it–I wanted a richly-flavored broth that would also season any bland starch you cooked in it–rice, noodles, potatoes, whatever–or that hold up to being watered down with some other substance. And what I had at this point was good … but it wasn’t quite strong enough quite yet, at least to my standards. I added about a dozen chicken bullion cubes to the mix as well, using them as much for the salt–which you’ll notice I did NOT add when I started to make stock–as for the overall poultry flavor they bring to the party.

It made it perfect :)

I ultimately ended up with 13 quarts of stock, divided into a selection of quarts and pints.

For some reason, one jar didn’t seal … so I had turkey and rice soup for dinner. It was excellent :)

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
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