One Man’s Trash is This Girl’s Dinner

It’s snowing. I’m in a cab with one of my oldest friends crossing the Manhattan Bridge with a smoked turkey carcass in a trash bag on the seat between us. One of many statements I never thought I’d say.

My friend Katie worked at a gallery for several years, and this past December she assisted the eccentric owner is throwing the annual holiday party. Never turning down free food, I was there beer in hand, helping put out the mountains of mini quiche and spring rolls. The pièce de résistance being two smoked turkeys from Fairways, an awesome local grocery store. After several more beers and dancing to the live music I see a familiar face out of the corner of my eye. Michael Stipe. THE Michael Stipe. Photographer Michael Stipe. U2’s Michael Stipe. Michael Stipe y’all! Hanging out in the middle of the room. I didn’t say hello, I’m far too awkward to talk to most regular strangers, let alone famous strangers.

But I digress, this is a story about turkey. Yes. Turkey. The night waned on and I stayed to help my friend clean up the empty platters and glasses. And there on the back table sat the turkey, picked over and ready for the garbage, unless you’re me.

I asked Katie what they were going to do with the carcass:
‘Toss it probably’
‘Umm could I take it home’
‘Home? Sure, why not’
‘Uh do you have anything I could put it in? A trash bag maybe?’
‘Yeah, sure Stace’

And thus, the double bagged bird came with me back to Brooklyn.

 The bird went into the freezer until January when I returned from Christmas in VA. This smoked turkey made the most delicious stock. Super soups I tell you! (I also discovered one of my new favorite guilty pleasures, fancy ramen, recipe to come) below is how I make stock, pretty basic really, but it is a basic so there you go. What once is old is made new again, with a stock pot and some root veggies.

Turkey Stock
1 cooked turkey carcass (let’s say about 12-14lb bird originally)
3-4 medium onions chopped a bit
4 carrots, peeled or cleaned well and roughly chopped
5 stalks of celery (sometimes fennel if I’m feeling adventurous), chopped

Parsley, Thyme and Bay are traditionally used to season. Very often I only have Bay leaves in the kitchen so I’ll throw two in and season the soup or whatever it is when I’m cooking with the stock.

tip: Often times I end of freezing the bird mostly because I’m lazy and make the stock when I have the time, but I find it helps in keeping the stock clearer and less cloudy.

Lightly sauté the vegetables together in a little olive oil and season with s+p. When the veggies have softened a bit it’s time to add the frozen carcass. Also, add 2 trays of ice cubes and enough cold water to cover the bones. Colder the water, clearer the stock.

It will take some time for it to come to a boil. I usually raise the heat a bit. As soon as it comes to a boil turn the heat down and simmer. You will start to see scum forming on top, skim that off to produce a clearer stock.

Next, do something fun in the other room and simmer for about 2 hours. Strain the stock when it’s good and ready. I like to reduce the strained stock at this point over low heat to concentrate the flavor. When done cool it down, seal it up, and freeze what you’re not going to use for up to 3-4 months. Soups on!