By Paula Marcoux.

Photo by Kadir Celep

It is said there are people who go to the trouble of roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, and then throw up their hands at the thought of making broth from the carcass. If this is you, and especially if you have gone to the expense of acquiring a local and/or organic and/or humanely-raised bird, harken unto me: it takes less actual effort to make a pot of fantastic, versatile, and healthy stock than it does to read one of these essays.

 

Broth recipe

Okay, so it’s a bit of a job, but it’s also money in the bank against the day you need to come up with a respectable supper in 30minutes and all you have in the cupboard is a scoop of Arborio rice, a shallot, and a rind of hard cheese. A few cups of shimmering, deeply-flavored poultry essence (and 20 minutes of attentive stirring) will transform those random bits into a delectable risotto.

Instructions
 

  • Select a large pot. Remove and store away any leftover meat, then put the skeletal remains, skin, etc., in the pot as compactly as possible. Sometimes this involves some satisfying crushing and tearing, since the area where the stuffing used to be as it takes up way too much room if left in its original format. Do not be squeamish about throwing in the drumstick that Uncle Fred gnawed on—quite a lot of boiling is about to occur.
  • Perhaps as you prepared vegetables earlier, you set aside leek tops and carrot trimmings. If not, take matters in hand now by adding onion (my grandmother would stick a clove or two into each one) or leek, a big handful of parsley, a couple carrots, some celery. (Have a look at the leftover relish tray on the dining table before you open the crisper drawer.) You can use other aromatics like garlic or ginger, but I like to use a restrained hand at this stage, so that the broth will be ethnically versatile. Add a bit of salt, but assume you’ll correct the seasoning much later.
  • Remember all those interesting spare parts that were rattling around inside the turkey when you unwrapped it? Best practice—back about the time you were preheating the oven for roasting the turkey—would have been to use those bits to start some broth for gravy. However, even if you missed that particular opportunity, it’s not too late! Toss the heart, gizzard, etc. in the stockpot—all except the liver, which you may cook and use separately (another topic for another day.) The neck is especially full of great flavor and collagen (the stuff that makes the broth jell when cold).
  • Cover the whole mess with cold water, put a moderate flame under it and bring to a gentle simmer. Now pay attention, because this is almost the only part you can screw up: do not boil it hard, just maintain the gentlest simmer. Skim off the foam which rises to the top and discard.
  • Cook at least three or four hours, until the flavor is entirely rendered from the remains. Ladle through a strainer, letting all the broth run out of the bleached bones and flaccid carrots and indiscernible fragments at the bottom of the pot. (Usually dogs and cats become very attentive at this point.) Discard solids, once thoroughly drained.
  • 6ou’re not done simmering. You probably have a fairly vast quantity of not-very-intense liquid. Return it to the heat and cook it down another hour or longer (a somewhat more aggressive simmer is acceptable here, but heavy boiling is still to be avoided, as it will turn the stock opaque and coarsen the flavor). You want to reduce it to a manageable amount, with great taste and body. At this point you can really condense it for the sake of convenient storage, and assume you’ll remember to dilute it later. And don’t worry about the fat; it’s easy to remove, if desired, from the cold stock just before using.
  • Pour the hot stock into jars, and chill after cooling to room temperature; or cool it in bulk, transfer to plastic containers and freeze.

Notes

Consider these additional tips:
If now is not the ideal time for you to be boiling stock for hours, quickly break down the carcass, and package and freeze it for future rendering.
If you have a large slow cooker, let it do all the work for you. My sister Denise puts it all in the pot, and lets the magic happen overnight. Imagine that delicious broth for breakfast—poached eggs a-swimming, garnished with garlic slivers fried in olive oil...