Congratulations. You’ve just cooked a chicken. You may be carving it up, prematurely because you are eager to get to the table. What’s the next thing you do?
Clean that roasting pan while it is hot and before things begin to “clunk” on the bottom and sides?
No. Leave the pan. Using that pan, which is a treasure trove of flavors, is your first step. Your chicken should rest before you can carve it up anyway. So, put the roasting pan on your stove top. Stir the juice there with a wooden spoon. Break up the solid bits that are “flavor piles” lying there. Now, add something. Peas, beans, corn, onions or a combination of some or all. How much to add? It depends on your chicken but easily two or three cups of veggies is fine. You may want to add a little butter for flavor and additional liquid. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice. Some salt, some pepper. Stir over medium heat for 3-7 minutes until thoroughly cooked. If you wish, add some white wine or even sparkling. Keep in the pan on low heat to remain warm as you finally do carve up that chicken. Then serve as your side dish, adjusting the seasonings to your taste.
You’ve just made a one pot meal in two stages.
Now for step two. After dinner, return to that carcass. Strip it of the remaining meat. For a normal size chicken that has been carved up before to serve 2-3 people, the carcass will still have nearly a cup of scraps on it. After all, when you are carving and want to begin eating, you really have not focused on stripping off all the meat. Now you can. Except, except, you don’t want to get every last scrap of meat off. Get rid of the skin, but leave the ultimate final bits of meat on the bone. Then crush the carcass into pieces, and put the mess into a plastic bag. Put the bag in the refrigerator or refrigerator.
You’ve just made the protein component for a terrific stock. The next day, the next week, plunge those bones with vegetable scraps into cold water and heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for hours. Indulge in the fragrant scents. The resulting broth, once you have removed the chicken pieces and any veggie chunks, is perfect by itself for a simple meal. Or add noodles. Or make risotto.
The Chicken Salad
And now for step three. When you did strip off the carcass, you got some meat, perhaps up to a full cup. Place the meat into a metal bowl. Add mayonnaise, in the ratio 3 parts meat to one part mayo. [Or, if your wife is not going to eat it, make the ratio 2 to 1]. Add some lemon juice to taste, plus salt and pepper. I like to add about a quarter cup of chopped candied jalapenos for heat and sweetness. Or you can add pickle. When you were making that roast chicken and perhaps a salad, there may have been some onion pieces or herbs that were chopped up. You have to clean your kitchen up anyway. Don’t treat those goodies as trash. They are finishing components.
Mix it all up and refrigerate.
You’ve just made some wonderful chicken salad. Not the manufactured goop you find in your store. But, real home-made chicken salad. It’s ready to be scooped onto lettuce, put in a sandwich or used top off your favorite crackers.
You roasted a chicken, but then you accomplished a great deal more.
Photo credits: Canon T21 with 18-55 mm Macro lens, first shot at F/4.0, 1/60th second, ISO 400 and the second at F/5.0, 1/50th second, ISO 3200.
Your Thanksgiving meal is done. The football games are over. Guests are gone. Cleanup, sadly, is necessary.
Here is what NOT to do. Don’t throw away that leftover turkey carcass. Even if most of the meat is devoured, save the carcass. You are about to make quarts and quarts of turkey stock for soup, sauces, and to give you a head start on the stock you’ll need for that Christmas turkey!
First, remove any seriously large chunks of meat remaining on turkey. I’m talking about the ingredients for sandwiches tomorrow. But do not try to pick off every last pieces of meat. A purely naked carcass will produce a less rich stock. And, personally, I think dark meat scraps produce a better stock and they are already snuggly hidden on the bottom anyway.
Break the carcass into a half dozen pieces, using a knife at first and then just crushing with your hand. Use a mitt or glove to protect yourself from turkey bone shards. The last place you want to be late on Thanksgiving Day is the Emergency Room. You’ll wait for hours as they deal with those idiots who just attempted their first deep frying experiment.
Yesterday’s blog was about making stock from giblets. This stock is decidedly different, but honestly they are both wonderful and you’ll enjoy them equally.
Full Carcass Turkey Stock
Yield: 4 to 5 quarts
- 1 meaty turkey carcass, chopped into large pieces
- 2 medium carrots (do not peel), but cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 large yellow onion (do not peel), cut in half
- 2 large ribs celery, with leaves, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Put the chopped turkey carcass in an 8-quart stockpot and add cold water to cover, leaving 2 inches of space at the top of the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Using a large spoon or soup skimmer, skim off the brown foam that rises to the top.
After 5 minutes or so, the foam will become white, and no more skimming will be necessary. Add the carrots, onion, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Partially cover the pot and adjust the heat so the stock barely simmers. Simmer the stock for at least 2 but preferably 4 hours, adding water, if necessary, to keep the bones covered
Source: The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan