What do you do with all these leftovers? You can’t let them go to waste! You paid top dollar for that organic free range turkey and you’re determined to squeeze every drop of flavor out of it.
I’m not a fan of leftover dark meat by itself so I decided to make something out of it. Inspired by The Best Chicken Stew from last month’s Cook’s Illustrated (which I made, and it was the best), I thought I would try making “The Best Turkey Stew.” It turned out pretty awesome, if I may be so bold. Since you can’t taste mine (we ate it all in <24 hours) you’ll just have to take my word for it. But here’s how you can make your own…
8 cups water
4 cooked turkey pieces (I used 4 wings but some combo of wings/legs would work also)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 sprigs fresh parsley
4 fresh sage leaves
0.5oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
1 bay leaf
6 tbsp bacon grease, melted
3 tbsp flour
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
Stock: Separate most of the meat off the leftover turkey pieces and start a stock from the bones, fat and little bits of meat you’re too lazy to pick off, using the ingredients above. Let it go at a slow simmer, covered, for about 3-4 hours. If it hasn’t boiled down to about 2/3 the liquid content uncover it and let it continue simmering until it does. Pull the bones out and run the rest through a fat separator, squeezing as much liquid out of the meat and herbs as possible. You should be left with about 4 cups of opaque, dense, hearty turkey stock.
Soup: After you’ve got the stock, chop the meat bits into bite sized pieces and place them in a dutch oven on the stove with 3 tbsp of bacon grease. (If you don’t have bacon grease laying around, by all means go make some fresh bacon grease and then add the bacon bits into the recipe later!) Heat the turkey bits on medium-high until lightly browned. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and continue to cook until veggies are soft. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325F.
Build a roux: Push the meat and veggies to one side of the dutch oven and pour the remaining bacon grease into the cleared side. Working quickly, sprinkle the flour over the grease and mix the flour in using a fork, making sure there are no chunky bits of flour. Keep mixing it for a minute while it starts to bubble and turn brown. Add about a half cup of turkey stock to the roux and keep mixing it until it thickens, then add the rest of the turkey stock.
Finish the soup: Place the dutch oven, uncovered, into your oven and cook for 1 hour. When you take it out fond will have formed on the sides of the dutch oven, scrape this off and mix it back into the soup! It’s full of awesome flavor.
Serve: Put leftover bread in the toaster oven for a few minutes, dice it up and then toss it on top of the soup. Serve with a Chateaneuf-du-Pape Grenach blanc or Franzia Crisp White, whatever your preference is.
Opportunities for expansion: If I had a half cup of white wine on hand, I would have added it before tossing in the oven. I think that would have made a good addition. I also meant to add a teaspoon or so of anchovy paste to amp up the savory content but spaced it.. turns out it didn’t really need it, but I wonder..