I’m sure that many of you are eating soups and casseroles this winter. I’m also pretty sure that most of you are using “broth: or “stock” to make these meals. Do you buy the boxes or cans of chicken broth at Costco? Do you buy the dehydrated concentrated cubes of bouillon? Or do you make your own? If you already make your own, that is perfectly wonderful, and you don’t need to read any further. But if you’ve never made your own chicken or other meat broth, please read on.

Making a broth is so much easier than it may seem. You just the boil the heck out of your chicken or turkey carcass and Voila! But let’s get to step one: baking meat. Do you know how to roast a chicken or turkey? My goodness, that’s not too hard either. I made a turkey this past Saturday while volunteering for the food bank. Let me explain. I thawed the bird for 3 days in the fridge. I opened the package and cleaned it the morning of. I pulled out the giblets and neck and preheated my oven. Simple steps. I put the turkey in a roasting pan, sprinkled with a little salt, pepper, thyme, and sage. Then I put it into the oven. Next, I left some simple basting instructions for my husband (because he does not know how to cook anything) and I left for the day. I volunteered at a food bank for 4 hours. When I returned home, the house smelled amazing and the turkey was done. Chicken is even easier, because they cook in only 1-2 hours. Anyway, all this to say; please do not be afraid to roast your own poultry.

Okay, next step is to carve and eat it. Now this isn’t very hard either. One year, when I was about 25 years old, I was volunteering to serve a large Thanksgiving meal to homeless people and all of the volunteers were young people like myself. No one knew how to carve the turkeys. Where were the dads, grandpas, and uncles? So I went for it. Later that night my friend and I got out our cookbooks and read the page which gave instructions for proper turkey carving. It’s not a big deal, but there IS a method to it. Okay back to my story.

So this past Saturday I carved my lovely turkey, served it at a party for 25 guests, and froze the leftover meat (It was a 22 pounder!). The beautiful (actually quite ugly & cold) carcass sat in the fridge. On Sunday night, I put on some latex gloves and picked it apart, threw away the fat and skin, picked off all of the meat I could find, and put all of the bones and gelatinous meat juice into my largest stock pot. (These pots were made for broth/stock making!!). I filled it with water to just cover the bones, about 8 or 10 cups. I added several celery stalks, half an onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt. I boiled it on low-medium heat all night, for 12 hours.

This morning I had a beautifully rich golden broth waiting for me. To tell you the truth, this was the first time I did it the right way, for real, giving it enough time to boil down. I know this because this time, the bones fell apart when I picked them up. (I let it cool for an hour before touching). The tips of all of the bones had turned to mush. The marrow fell apart. It was lovely. I  carefully poured this through my large holed pasta colanderinto small containers and after they chill, I will scrape the fat off and freeze them. Next I will pick all of the remaining meat out of the pot and freeze that as well. There are some large bones to throw away still.

Some folks who make bone broth all of the time, just keep boiling and boiling the bones until they completely fall apart…but I don’t have time for that. I feel successful, having made this first round. It made 8 containers full, which will make a lot of great meals for us later, when needed. These broths are full of calcium, protein, and “other great stuff”, read about it here.

What a great use for the entire bird. If you are a carnivore, please don’t waste any part of the animal and make sure to utilize every edible part, including the bones.

So do you make your own broth?

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turkey meat

Check out how much more meat there was still, after I already picked at the carcass once. This is after cooking it down. All of this meat fell off the bones. Another 3 cups!

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