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Recipes and Stories

26 November 2022: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner IX—Making the Most of the Leftovers

The Post-Thanksgiving Stockpot, ready to simmer and turn the leftover turkey carcass into liquid gold


Two of my favorite things about cooking Thanksgiving dinner are the broth pots that begin and end it. Not only does that wonderful aroma fill the house twice, that second batch of broth squeezes out every ounce of goodness the bird had to offer, and extends the holiday feasting into the weekend and beyond.


By Thanksgiving night, since we had a small bird and a large crowd, the turkey had been picked pretty clean. But I rolled up my sleeves and finished picking over it, broke the carcass down so it would take up less space in the fridge, then called it a night and got off my tired feet.


Today, the carcass, flavorful browned skin scraps, and broth leftover from that first batch went into a stockpot with some fresh carrot, celery, onion, and herb sprigs, and as I write this, the air is once again filled with that heady aroma.


Roast Turkey Broth


Even if your turkey has been picked pretty clean, the carcass still has a lot left to offer the stockpot, and will yield a lot of lovely broth for soup, turkey dumplings, or for supplementing any leftover gravy in creamed turkey and potpie.


Makes at least 4 quarts


1 leftover turkey carcass, picked clean of any large scraps of meat

1 large yellow onion

2 large carrots, scrubbed under cold running water

2 ribs celery, scrubbed under cold running water

2 quarter-sized slices gingerroot

2 bay leaves

1-2 large sprigs each thyme, sage, and parsley

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


Leftover turkey broth, if you have it


1. Break down the carcass, removing the legs, wings, and separating them at the joints, then separate the back, keel bone, and ribs into several pieces. Put bones with any meat scraps and skin in large (10-12-quart) stockpot.


2. Trim the onion, split it lengthwise, then peel and thinly slice it. Add it to the pot. Trim the carrots, cut them crosswise into 2-3 pieces, then quarter the fattest pieces and halve the smaller ones. Thinly slice them and add them to the pot. Remove the leafy tops from the celery, then slice the stalks and add them both to the pot. Add the gingerroot, bay, thyme, sage, parsley, peppercorns, and salt to taste.


3. Add any leftover turkey broth that you may have or, if you like a quart of chicken broth if there's no leftover broth. Add enough water to completely cover the turkey carcass and put the pot over over medium low heat. Slowly bring it to a simmer, skimming it as the scum rises. This will take about 45 minutes.


4. Adjust the heat to a low, steady simmer and cook gently for at least 2 hours, 3-4 is better. Cool enough to handle, strain broth and discard solids. Let it cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until needed. When fat congeals, remove and store it separately to use instead of butter or oil.

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