Well, we finally did it: We got ourselves a wild turkey! Holly and I were invited out to a Napa County vineyard last weekend to help save the wines of tomorrow from the turkeys of today (thanks, Phillip, for that one!), and we wound up with a 12-pound jake — Holly shot it cleanly at 20 yards.
I had a chance at a jake as well, but it was on the wrong side of me and when I turned to try to get a shot, the bird lumbered away with surprising speed. Who knew a turkey could run so fast? No matter, I should get another chance this weekend.
This being our first wild turkey, we wanted to make full use of it. So after the ordeal of plucking — it took more than an hour to pluck the critter even with both of us working on the bird — I broke it down into yummy bits and made this broth.
Even though a 12-pound turkey isn’t huge, we still got tons of meat from it: A package of thighs, a package of drumsticks, a package of wings; two packets of breast meat, plus one of the “tenders.” I also saved the heart, liver and the neck skin, which I will use as a sausage casing later.
As for the stock, in went the carcass, the neck, the cleaned gizzard and the feet, which I hacked up with a cleaver to allow the collagen in them to seep into the broth; this gives it more body and heft.
I set the turkey stock to a simmer for 8 hours. I did not let it boil. With 90 minutes to go, I went to the garden and raided it for a fennel bulb, three leeks, four carrots, a sprig of thyme, a bunch of parsley, a green garlic and small bunch of kintsai, which is an Asian celery that looks more like a light-colored parsley. I chopped them all up and add them to the pot.
I always strain my stock twice. After the four hours was up, I removed all the chunky stuff and poured the broth through a sieve with cheesecloth set in it into another large pot. Then I set the strained broth to a boil — once it’s strained, you can boil your stock and not make it cloudy.
I only add maybe two teaspoons of salt; I don’t measure. But I let the broth boil down until that amount of salt makes everything taste just right. I strain it one more time as it goes into the Mason jars for cold storage.
I only got three quarts out of this one, but it’s way more of a rich broth than a base stock — golden, clear and oh-so full of turkey goodness.
- 1 turkey carcass, hacked into large pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 leeks, washed well and chopped (including green tops)
- 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tablespoon dried
- Break up the turkey carcass into large pieces so it will fit in the pot. Use the largest stockpot you have. If you have not cooked the turkey already, you can do one of two things: Roast it with a little oil and salt at 400 degrees until it is nicely browned, about an hour. Or, you can make a lighter broth by covering the uncooked turkey carcass with water, bringing it to a simmer (not a full boil) and skimming off any scum that floats to the surface. Do this for 15 minutes or so and then proceed.
- Let the turkey simmer very gently -- you want the surface of the pot to barely shimmy, not bubble much at all -- for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. When you want to finish your broth, add the veggies and simmer gently for another 90 minutes.
- To strain, use tongs or a spider skimmer to get as many big pieces out as possible. Discard. Set a paper towel in a strainer and put the strainer over another large pot. Pour the broth through the paper towel to filter out any debris. You might need to change the paper towel midway through the process.
- Now you can either add salt to the finished stock or jar it as-is. If you plan to freeze the broth, leave about an inch of headspace in the jar, otherwise the expanding broth-ice will crack the glass.