Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas Turkey - Part 2: The Remains

It's Boxing Day, the 26th of December. By midnight tonight, everyone will be sick of the sight (and taste) of turkey. The most fed up will dump the remainders in the bin. The more frugal will resort to the dreaded "Turkey Curry", a phrase that always conjours up visions of the Alconbury's "Turkey Curry Party" from Bridget Jones' Diary. No thank you.

Here's what I do: I start a turkey products factory.

First, get the equipment. Large stock pot. Check. Measuring scales. Check. Supply of freezer bags, pouched open. Check. Bowl for any leftover chestnut stuffing. Check. Dish full of scrapings/bones/garlic paper from plates over Christmas. Check. Freezer bag full of chicken bones from previous meals. Check. Freezer bag with chicken skin and fat from previous meals. Check. Container of fat and juices from turkey roasting dish. Check. Giblets, neck bone, etc, from the turkey. Check.

Now, attack the turkey. I cut off all the remaining meat, in chunks, and divide it into either half pound (250g) or 1lb (500g) freezer bags. Once sealed, I label them with a description, the date and weight of the bag. When all the bags are full, I shove them in the freezer and forget about them for a few weeks until we can face having a turkey-based meal. (See tomorrow's instalment for meal ideas.)

If there are any fatty deposits left on the turkey, I cut them off and put them in the freezer bag full of chicken skin, etc. Scrape off the fat from the congealed roasting dish juices and add this fat to the bag. In due course, this will get made into Smaltz, but not today.

Scoup out all the remaining Chestnut Stuffing and deposit in a bowl. Fight DH to stop him taking the bowl and eating the contents then and there. Save for breakfast and spread on toast. It makes great sandwiches/toast toppings.

Now, make your turkey stock. Dump the turkey bones into your stockpot, together with the plate scrapings, the giblets/neck and the freezer bag full of chicken bones. (Don't worry about any chestnut stuffing residue, it'll just make your stock a little dark.) Pour in the congealed roasting pan juices. Add a small onion, a carrot or two, a couple of cloves of garlic and 3 peppercorns. If you have any, add some tarragon: either a heaped teaspoon of dried or a tablespoon of freshly chopped leaves. Cover with water, bring to the boil. Skim when it reaches boiling point. Simmer for three to four hours (you can start this one night and finish it the next). Allow to cool a little before straining the stock into a deep bowl (I put the bowl into the sink, put a colander into the bowl and then pour in the stock). Save the colander full of bones.

NOTE. If you need to add extra water to your stock pot, DO NOT ADD COLD WATER - it will make the fat disperse throughout the stock giving it a bitter taste and weird texture. Add boiling water instead.

Return the strained stock to your pot and boil down to one-third. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge. Scrape off the fat that congeals on top and add to your freezer bag of fat. Then re-heat the jellied stock until it becomes liquid again, pour into containers, label and freeze. I re-use plastic soup containers for this, since they fit inside my freezer door shelves. I also make some "stock cubes", pouring a bit of the stock into an ice-cube tray.

This makes a strongly flavoured stock. When a recipe calls for stock, I'll use half frozen stock and half water.

Finally, pick over the bones from the stock and remove any remaining meat. Go carefully, because the bones will have softened considerably and it's easy to get small ones in with your meat. Bag up, label as "stock meat" and freeze. Use in strongly flavoured dishes where you don't really taste the chicken/turkey, e.g. "chicken" vindaloo. Add a chicken stock cube to the dish to enhance the flavour. DO NOT serve to small children or animals because of the potential for small bones to remain in the meat.

Now relax. You've processed your turkey and can forget about doing anything with it for a while.

- Pam (tomorrow: smaltz and recipe ideas)

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