Time to Talk Turkey

Like much of the country, I’m not cooking for the usual 20 guests this Thanksgiving. The turkeys I pre-ordered from Fossil Farms back in September arrived on Friday, and I was thankful that my sister was able to use one of them. I ordered two small turkeys instead of one large because they cook faster and are less likely to dry out. Sis has a household of six so she’ll have minimal leftovers.

We, on the other hand are a household of two adults plus a small cat.

Instead of roasting the whole 11-pound turkey, I’m cutting it down into parts, vacuum sealing them, and putting what I won’t use in the freezer. Immediately, I use the back, neck, thigh bones, and the tips of the wings to make bone broth. I have some chicken wings stored up so I throw those into the mix. The more joints the richer the broth right? All the bones won’t fit in our small 4 quart multi cooker, so we’re going old school and making it on the stovetop. Six hours later, we have almost 3 quarts of rich broth, more than enough to make our stuffing and gravy on T-day.

Classic Bone Broth

In a 5 to 8 quart pot, cover 3 pounds bones and joints (back, neck, wing tips, thigh bones) with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 1 hour until the liquid runs clear. Skim any foam and fat from the surface. Add 1 medium onion, 1 medium carrot, the whites of 1 medium leek, and 1 head of garlic all cut into 1″ chunks. Add to this 12 parsley stems, 3 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon black peppercorns. Simmer gently for 6 to 8 hours until most of the cartilage is dissolved. Strain, cool, and store refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. Yields about 2 quarts.

Now for the meaty bits, I have a pair of 2-pound boneless turkey breasts. Tomorrow I’ll brine one of them and do something festive like a Turkey Wellington, or roast it Peking Duck style on Thanksgiving. Smaller and boneless, it should cook in under and hour, and no need to wait for the legs and thighs to catch up while the breast dries out. We’ll pull the roast at 155 F and let carryover heat take it to 160-165 F for perfectly juicy turkey.

Garlic Rosemary Turkey Brine

For 2 pounds turkey breast, boil 4 cups water with 1 cup kosher salt, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 6 cloves smashed garlic, 2 sprigs rosemary and 1 tablespoon peppercorns. Add another 4 cups cold water to cool the brine and transfer to a container or zip-loc bag. Submerge the turkey breast in the liquid and brine for 6 to 12 hours. Rinse, season, and cook as desired.

D and I (but especially D) are sick of chicken and actually prefer the flavor of turkey anyway. We always look forward to Black Friday pot pie from the leftovers so I’ll braise the thighs in some of that broth we made too. The wings will be good to braise or confit another time. And maybe we’ll put the other breast and thigh through the meat grinder for turkey burgers, meatballs or Burmese style stir fry with ginger and mint.

What are some of your favorite ways to use turkey parts or Thanksgiving leftovers? We’d love to hear from you. But if we don’t, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. -P, D, and SMQ

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