Turkey carving suggestions? Goal: meat, then stock

Made my first turkey this year. KneadSqueeze got it from her employer at Thanksgiving, it resided in a friend’s freezer until last week, then it got brined and roasted via the Alton Method.

I’m not a turkey fan, and even I ate it gladly. It was excellent.

But now I’ve got a giant bird carcass in my fridge and very little idea of how to get it down to manageable portions. The legs came off easily enough, and most of the breast meat was pretty easy to figure out. Where do I go from here?

My goal is to get as much meat off the bird as I reasonably can, which I will probably turn into some version of turkey salad and then cook what remains into stock for use in future recipes.

Notes to fellow turkey-cooking newbies: [ul][li]Those giblets are in there, somewhere. If your thorough excavation of the thoracic cavity leaves you with nothing but the neck, try the neck hole. That’s where mine were hiding, half expelled from the cooked bird and peaking up at me when I took it out of the oven.[/li]Buy this. Seriously. Guesswork eliminated forever.[/ul]

I’ve only ever actually carved the breast meat. I find it’s easiest to disassemble a turkey or a roasted chicken with my hands. Start by breaking the bird in half, then break the thigh/leg quarters away from the breasts. Pull the breast meat off the bones. Set aside and carve later. Pull legs away from thighs, and pull the meat off the bones (or pull the bones away from the meat actually). If it comes off in big chunks you can carve it into slices.

Toss all your bones in a stockpot and cover with water. It’s OK if there is some meat on there. Follow instructions for making stock that you find on the internet. :slight_smile:

Take all the meat off the carcass and set it aside.

Break the carcass up into pieces that will fit into your stockpot. Include all bones, bits of fat, trimmings, etc., but do not include the liver if you have it. You don’t mention stuffing the bird, and this is good. Because if you HAD stuffed it, you ought to wash all remains of the stuffing out of the carcass. It will make your soup taste weird, if you leave it in.

Cover with cold water. The cold liquid may include a box or can of chicken stock if you like, or a Knorr Swiss chicken cube may be put in. Bring quickly to a boil and skim off the worst of the glop that rises to the top.

Peel and chop fairly small: 2 large carrots, 2 onions. Chop 2 sticks of celery. Drop these vegetables into the pot.

Add 1 bay leaf, a good pinch of leaf thyme, another goodish pinch of leaf rosemary, maybe a dozen whole black peppercorns, and a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes. If you have some parsley, chop it up and drop in a couple of tablespoons of it, or some dried parsley. Not necessary, but nice.

If you have any lemons, cut a lemon in half and put it in, peel and all, after giving it a bit of a wash. You may also add 2 whole cloves, but if you don’t have these things, it’s okay.

When it comes back up to the boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for no more than 2 hours. Any longer and it starts tasting only of bones.

Strain the stock, pressing hard on the solids, and discard everything but the actual liquid. Put it in the fridge overnight, and in the morning lift off the fat that has congealed on top. You may, if you wish, pour it carefully into another container in such a way as not to disturb the stuff at the bottom. But if you don’t, that doesn’t matter at all.

At this point, you may freeze your stock. And with it, but in a separate container, freeze the meat you intend to put in your soup when you eventually make it.

However, if you are going to make your soup now, put it on the stove again and add a couple of carrots sliced thin or chopped, a stick or two of celery sliced thin, a bit more thyme and rosemary if desired.

I like to put in a can of Green Giants Niblets corn, or some frozen corn kernels.

If you are intent on adding garlic, at this point drop in a couple of whole peeled cloves.

You may add a couple of potatoes cut up small, or a half a cup of rice, or some noodles. Or all of them.

When the potatoes/rice/noodles are done, put in the nicely chopped turkey meat you have saved. You don’t need a lot of it.

Don’t boil the soup hard, let it simmer, should have the vegetables done in a half hour.

Taste your soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.
ps: you may find that your stock isn’t flavoured strongly enough for you. You can add some more chicken stock, or a Knorr Swiss cube if you like.

Vision is right about not overcooking poultry bones as it makes the soup taste like bone … but I would be willing to bet that yo could use it as a calcium suppliment!

I prefer to make stock a bit differently … I use a pasta penta, putting the carcass broken up into the section that has holes in it, makes it easy to drag out the carcass and used up aromatics.

Put in the broken carcass, and I sort of scrunge the roasting pan for all the flavoring if it hasnt been used to make gravy and dump it into the pot. I wrap a sprig of thyme, a couple cracked black peppercorns, a bay leaf or two and a sprig of marjoram in cheesecloth and toss it in. I take a softball sized onion and quarter it, 2 good sized carrots peeled and cut into large hunks, and 3 or 4 ribs of celery with the leaves still on, cut into large hunks. Top off with water and set to simmer gently for about 2 hours. I never boil stock as it changes the protein structure and frankly, you dont need to.

After the 2 hours, pull out the pente and toss the contents. If any floaties is in the stock, I may strain it through a double layer of cheesecloth to get the stock to clear. Taste, you will probably want to gently simmer it uncovered for several hours to reduce the water out of the stock to intensify the flavor.


once the stock has reduced to the flavor intensity you want, put it in the fridge until the fat floats to the top and solidifies. Remove.

I pour it into cheap paper cups and freeze in 1 cup amounts, but you can also pour it into standard ice cube trays and freeze as well.

Never and I repeat NEVER put anything into a soup you would not eat as-is… This means VEGGIE PEELS, NASTY BRUISED OR DAMAGED VEGGIES, MEAT THAT IS CLOSE TO SPOILAGE.

In case you were wondering, there is a rather unusual but fairly toxic fungus that can grow in the layers of onion skin, and fertilizers/bug sprays/assorted chemicals tend to get deposited on veggie surfaces. Meat that is slightly off will give the stock an off flavor. DO you want this in your soup? I didnt think so …

Anybody with patience can make fantastic stock out of raw ingredients … without the nasty salty crap that is bouillion cubes …

Muffin tins. All those recipes that ask for 1/2 cup broth? There ya go.

No offense to other replies: thanks to all! Hockey Monkey’s reply, though, gets to the meat (heh) of my question most fully:

Given the order here, I’m assuming by “breaking the bird in half” you mean splitting it into 2 breast-wing-leg sections? By hand? I cannot begin to visualize how I would accomplish that.

So the basic idea I’m getting here is that my best method to get the meat off the bones is to pick it by hand. The entire bird? Breasts, wings, legs, thighs. I’m not arguing, just clarifying.

Way ahead of you, pardner.

I’ve been known to add allspice and whole cloves to my stockpot - as the brining recipe I use involves allspice and the resulting stock is always yummo. So if I’m using carcasses from rotisserie chicken from the grocery, I try to mimic those flavors.

I remove as much meat as possible before boiling, either to eat as is or for use in other recipes. When you remove the bones etc. after simmering, I do try to pick off usable meat and save that for the resulting soup (it’s got all the flavor boiled out of it, so it’s not good for any other use).

I don’t have much luck with the fat solidifying, when it’s poultry fat - it does float, but I’m often kind of guessing where the fat ends and the stock begins. Beef stock is much easier to defat.

Tips I got from Le Manoir: break the bones with a cleaver to release the marrow. Then brown them in a dry roasting dish before any of the above, to instigate a bit of Maillard goodness.

I turn the bird so that the backbone is down and the butt end is facing me, then grasp each side of the bird so that my thumbs are inside the cavity and my fingers are on the outside. I then just push those two halves apart until the ribs on one side break away from the backbone. Finish separating with a knife if necessary.

I just find it’s easier to pull big muscle sections off the bones with my fingers, then slice and dice later as necessary. It’s a little messy, and a bit primal, but with little risk of finger dismemberment.