using that turkey for all its worth

November 23rd, 2007

Using That Turkey For All It’s Worth

Every year since my spouse took the job he is at now, his employer has given a free ~12 lb turkey to all the employees for Thanksgiving. In the past, I’ve carved up the breasts of the turkey and not really used much more of it. My spouse isn’t fond of dark meat and I’m a vegetarian so I don’t eat turkey so I’ve just looked at it as sandwich fixings for my spouse for a few days after the meal.

But this year, I was determined to get everything I could out of this turkey. White meat, dark meat, everything was going to be processed and used to the best of my ability. And if I end up being super-thrifty with it and the meals work out well, I may buy another turkey when they go on sale after the holidays and try to repeat my success. The jury is still out on that but this is what I’ve done so far:

I carved the breasts off the turkey in two whole pieces (one side of the turkey was one piece). I actually saw this technique done on one of the Food Network Thanksgiving shows and it seemed to me this would get the most meat off the bird at once instead of the long slices I usually did. I carved one breast into inch-thick slices to serve with dinner, and my spouse said they were moist and juicy. Score! I now have one whole breast and half of the second breast wrapped up and in the refrigerator to incorporate into lunches or a meal. I intend on using one of the breasts for a meal this weekend and cutting the half breast into sandwich slices for my spouse.

I removed the legs and wings from the turkey and then picked all the meat off the bones by hand into a tupperware bowl. I collected enough meat to use in a casserole of some sort, I think I am going to try my hand at making turkey tetrazzini on Monday. Even though my spouse is not a huge fan of dark meat I think he will like it (or at least, will eat it) in a casserole type dish.

I then put those bones into a large stock pot, and demolished the rest of the turkey carcass, picking the meat off of those bones as well and putting it into a new container. I collected enough for another meal picking off those bones, which I intend to make a thanksgiving style shepherd’s pie from (layers of turkey with gravy, stuffing, and potatoes, baked in a casserole dish and served with cranberry sauce on the side). All those ingredients are leftovers from our meal we still have. I then put all those bones in my stock pot as well, and covered the whole thing with water and simmered for 4 hours to make a nice turkey stock. I didn’t add any extra veggies to it, just some herbs, but I don’t intend on using it for soup. I froze some and refrigerated some and will be using it to cook rice and pasta in to make it richer and not have to add seasonings to. This will make easy side dishes for weeks to come, for I ended up with about 14 cups of stock.

So hopefully, I will have at least three more meals, a few sandwiches for lunches, and a number of side dishes all from this one turkey and a few additional ingredients. I have a lot of whole wheat pasta and brown rice to cook with the turkey stock already so I should have to spend too much money. Maybe my grocery bill will be under $30 this week after all! Maybe. But I feel super thrifty anyway even if it isn’t. :)

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13 Responses to “Using That Turkey For All It’s Worth”

  1. I admire your time and energy that it takes to prepare the turkey and then prepare the stock, clean the lst of the meat off of the bird.
    I admit I am too tired after all the cooking for Thanksgiving that I don’t do that.
    Maybe next year I will plan better and utilize the whole bird!
    Good Job!

  2. I have found that dard meat from chicken or turkey thighs/legs makes the best enchiladas. I sometimes make them with green salsa instead of red salsa to make the dish different.

  3. I always use the dark meat in casseroles – it doesn’t dry out as quickly, and it’s difficult to tell the difference. I prefer white meat in sandwiches and meals, but the dark meat works great in casseroles. Dh can’t tell the difference…the weirdo… :)

    Congrats on using as much of the turkey as possible!

  4. This is what I do with chickens- a medium size chicken can feed my family of five for three to four meals. You can shorten your steps though- once you cut the meat you want for sandwiches off, then toss the whole bird into a stew pot, cover with water, and let simmer for several hours. Then cool slightly, and drain all the stock, and store. Then, once the bird has cooled a bit, you can pick apart into three parts: bones to toss, skin and grstle to feed to the dog, and bits of meat for casseroles, pasta etc. Takes about 15 minutes for a chicken.

  5. I love your determination and admire your plan. Don’t forget you can also freeze some if you start to OD on the turkey!

  6. You should try making turkey croquettes with the leftovers! I’m impressed with all you did with the turkey – I have to admit that I thought about making turkey stock and got too lazy and just threw out the carcass.

  7. I’ve never been really clear on how it works when one is a vegetarian and one’s spouse is not. Do you cook two separate meals every day? What do you eat when he’s eating his turkey tettrazini and rice cooked in turkey broth? Is this a big hassle?

  8. I do generally either cook two different meals, or cook one meal and cook the meat part separate.

    It could be a big hassle but I am used to it. I couldn’t ask my spouse to be a vegetarian just like he can’t ask me to not be one.

    I cook, he cleans. We have a deal. He cleans twice the pots some days :)

  9. Jane Brody has a wonderful recipe for “Turkey Carcass Soup.” It’s much different than your typical soup and I’ve been making it for years and years. If you are interested, I would be glad to share the recipe.

  10. I would totally be interested!


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