“Turkey breast roulade with pear and sage stuffing wrapped up an ready to go on the grill!”
Traditionally my family makes turkey soup from the carcass and left over turkey bones. I am personally not a fan of turkey soup — or for that matter turkey noodle casserole, but that’s for another post. Cooking school and a desire not to be wasteful prevents me from just throwing it all away, so I make stock.
Cooking terms lesson of the day: Stock is made by simmering bones and vegetables in a liquid (usually water). Stocks are the bases for soups and sauces and therefore should be lightly seasoned and, in my opinion, unsalted. Broth is very similar to stock except it derives it’s flavor from meat and vegetables rather than bones.
After making turkey or any other kind of stock, I usually divide it into 16-ounce deli containers and freeze it to use later as a base for soups (other than turkey) and in other dishes in place of chicken stock. I mean com’on… it’s easy to do, although a little time consuming, and virtually free! There is no real need to follow technique here and make sachets or bouquet garni, peel vegetables, etc. — it’s all gonna get strained out at the end.
Simple Turkey Stock
Turkey carcass, bones, wings, neck – meat removed
2 medium brown onions
3 celery ribs
2 large carrots
1 head garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 springs fresh Parsley
A lot of ice
Cut carcass into 4 or 5 pieces and add to an 8- to 12-quart stock pot. Trim the root end off onions and quarter leaving the skins on. Scrub celery ribs and carrots and cut into chunks. Cut garlic clove in half horizontally (through the cloves). Add cut vegetables and remaining ingredients, except ice, to the pot. Cover with water; about 16 cups.
Over high heat, bring stock to a simmer, but not a full boil. Adjust heat and continue simmering for 3 to 4 hours. Every hour or so skim the impurities that have come to the surface and check to see that the water hasn’t evaporated too much – if it has, boil water in a kettle and add to the stock. Do not add cold water. Here you need to make a decision; if you want more of a lighter flavored stock – keep the water liquid level close to where it began. If you would like less of a richer flavored stock, then don’t keep adding so much boiling water and just let it reduce (my preference).
Once the stock is finished strain into another pot through a colander that has been lined with a couple layers of cheese cloth. If you don’t have cheese cloth on hand, then strain through the colander and then through a fine mesh strainer.
Important: To keep your stock safe from bacteria, it must be cooled quickly and properly. Put a stopper into the drain of your sink. Set the pot of strained stock into the sink and surround pot with ice. Fill sink with just enough water to come to the height of the stock in the pot. Stir the stock occasionally until cool. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.
When you go to use it the stock, you may notice flecks of fat that, if you are a low-fat freak, you can remove with a spoon. However, DO NOT remove the gelatin like stuff that has congealed in the stock. This is the collagen that has been simmered from the bone and gives the stock it’s luscious body. The stock will last in the fridge for up to a week. If you are not going to use it in that time, it freezes really well for 3 or 4 months.
Peace – J
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Like clockwork every November, food magazines feature beautifully roasted, golden brown, mouth-watering turkeys on their covers. However, the turkey on your Thanksgiving table never quite lives up to that cover-bird perfection even though you followed the recipe to the letter. It tastes delicious, but the skin has split, the drumstick has separated and the skin is blotchy and wrinkled. Well, high paid cover-girls like Tyra and her Top Model-ettes don’t do their own make-up for cover shoots… why then, should Tom? Enter: the food stylist.
Styling a turkey for a cover shoot or whole “roasted” poultry is one of my favorite things to do in food styling. It’s the ultimate transformation. It’s sorta like when Tyra gets up in the morning… not cover ready. Same for Tom coming out of his wrapper. Each gets their own form of make-up and BAM cover model.
A fully cooked turkey from the oven isn’t used in photography for several reasons: 1) because when meat is cooked, the proteins tighten up and some of the moisture is squeezed out (why overcooked meat is dry). With the loss of moisture comes some shrinkage. This is why as soon as your bird comes out of the oven and rests a bit, the skin wrinkles. 2) There is the unknown of how the skin is going to react in the oven – splits, tears, uneven cooking – would mean hours of lost time waiting for the bird to cook, and then trying to repair what has happened or possibility of having to cook another.
Our cover-bird Tom, is for all intent and purpose, raw. He’s stuffed with aluminum foil to stay plump and cooked just enough as to not appear raw – only for about 30 to 40 minutes. This insures that his skin stays nice and taught and the meat appears plump and juicy. Note: that this only holds true for the whole roasted bird. When you open the magazine to the article and you see the beautifully carved bird – that is the actual prepared recipe.
After he comes out of the oven, we use a butane torch to tighten up any loose skin, cauterize any bloody bones and highlight what would be the parts that might cook a little darker in the oven like the tops of the breast and thighs.
The fun part is coloring the bird! Browning sauce is used for the base color of yellowy brown, mixed with Angustora bitters for an orangey-red tint, yellow food coloring, paprika for highlighting the darker parts, and some cooking spray to make it appear moist and juicy!
This last picture is the same turkey as the first. With a fully cooked turkey, it would be nearly impossible to manipulate him from one set onto the next without a lot of reworking and the possibility of him falling apart. The reason for all of this is not to deceive, but because our cover-bird Tom has to sit under hot lights for hours at a time to get that perfect shot. Just like those girls on Top Model, he’ll get moved and manipulated and his make-up has to stay fierce and flawless!
Have a fantastic Thanksgiving! May you turkey be not only delicious but beautiful as well.
Photography (exception is the ingredient shot) is by the amazingly talented Heather Winters. Click on her name and check out her site!
Peace – J
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