Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why You'll Want to Make Broth from Your Leftover Turkey

The Healing Power of Bone Broth

I don't know about your house, but mine has had the fragrant smell of turkey cooking in one form or another for several days now.  Due to some scheduling challenges, we had our family celebration on Wednesday, so I started then with the turkey and each day since there has been one form or another of leftover turkey.  Not only that, but I stuffedd and roasted a chicken last Saturday night developing and testing a recipe for gluten-free stuffing.

Yes, indeed, the kitchen has been full of roasted poultry.  As you well know, after the initial feasting comes the carcass.  What to do with it?

First of all, good cooks know that bones are cooking treasures.  Bones are the basics for creating some of the most intense, intrinsically satisfying and delicious flavors.  In fact, from the moment man found fire, bones have been a source of cooking delight.

However, bones are not just important from a culinary standard.  Bones have inherent nutritional properties that can be extremely healing.

One of the best ways to get maximum healing from bones is to make bone broths.  You can make broths from virtually any kind of bones.  For most American cooks this means beef, pork, lamb, fish and poultry, unless you have access to unusual meats or wild game.  Some people even save their egg shells and add them to broths for the added minerals, especially calcium.

The act of slow cooking the bones in liquid allows some of the nutritional goodness in the bones to seep into the broth.  Putting the pot to the back of the stove and turning the burner to simmer is a tradition we've lost sight of in modern times.  However, this time-tested simple cooking basic of slow simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine.

You've probably experienced first-hand the healing power of broths if you've ever eaten homemade chicken soup to cure a cold.  It's not just an old wives-tale that broths help with healing.  Chicken soup actually contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent sniffles. And current medical research indicates that chicken soup relieves the development of cold symptoms.

But broth is much more than just a source of symptom relief for colds.  Homemade stock contains easily absorbable minerals.  Of course, one important mineral from bones is calcium, but magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals are released, too.  Broth also contains broken down compounds from cartilage and tendons such as chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which if you have arthritis or joint pain, you know can help keep your body moving comfortably.

For a more complete rundown on the healing properties of home-made broth, see the blue box below. Once you look it over, you'll never want to throw precious healing bones into the trash again.

Making homemade broth is easy and a great activity for a winter weekend.  Just throw the bones in a soup pot with some water and vegetables, turn to simmer and let time do the work for you.

The recipe below is for turkey broth, but you can substitute any form of bones for the turkey bones.

Turkey Broth 

1 turkey carcass
1 onion cut in half
1 large carrot cut in half
1stalk of celery
Ground peppercorns
1 T Italian herbs dry
1/4 t sage dry
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove minced
Sea salt to be added after cooking

Remove most of the meat from the turkey carcass leaving some bits and pieces that are close to the bone to help flavor and enhance the stock.  Put all the bones in the soup pot.  If the body section of your turkey is too large to fit into the pot, bend and break it in half.  If little bits of stuffing, gravy or other veggies from Thanksgiving dinner go into the pot with the turkey, they will only add flavor, so don't worry about separating them out. Add the vegetables and herbs to the pot and cover it all with water.  Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.  Allow the broth to simmer for most of the day, say 4-6 hours.  Place a strainer over the opening in a separate soup pot and pour the broth, bones, veggies and spices into the strainer.  Allow the contents to sit for awhile so that all the juices and goodness drip down into the finished stock. When the onion is cool enough, squeeze it in your hand allowing the liquid to drip into the pot. Add salt to taste.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

1 pot of turkey broth
3 T olive oil
1 onion diced
2 c celery diced
3 large carrots sliced
3 cups super greens such as chard, kale or spinach
3 cups frozen peas
3 cups turkey meat

Saute the onion celery and carrots in olive oil until somewhat tender.  Add them to the broth and boil about ten minutes or so until carrots are softening.  Add the super greens, peas and turkey and continue to cook until pot just comes back to a boil.  Turn off heat and serve.  Adjust seasonings with sea salt and pepper if needed.

This turkey soup is hearty enough to be a meal in itself, however you can serve it with a side salad if you wish.  Even better, try our recipe for healthy gluten-free seed bread.  It's flavors are perfect for autumn, match up with the turkey soup well and provide extra healing all at once.

Gluten-free seed bread.

If you should happen to have a leftover chicken carcass hanging around, here's what I did with mine...

Mexican Meatball Soup

For the meatballs:
1 lb grass-fed ground meat
1 t cumin
1 t garlic freeze dried* or 1 clove fresh minced
1/4 t lemon pepper
1/8 t onion salt
1 pinch ground red pepper or add more if you like food really spicey
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the soup:
1 pot of chicken broth
3 T olive oil
1 onion diced
2 c celery diced
2 carrots sliced
2 bell peppers diced
1 garlic clove minced
2 t cumin
1 t oregano
Fresh ground sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 T cilantro freeze dried* or chopped fresh

For the guacamole
3 avocados mashed
1 tomato diced
2 t freeze-dried onions* or diced fresh shallots
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t oregano
Lime juice to taste (2-3 limes)

Olive oil

Make the meatball mixture by stirring together all ingredients and then rolling it into ball shapes that are about 1" in diameter.  In a stockpot, add the olive oil and saute the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and bell pepper until vegetables are softening. Pour in the broth and add the spices and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender.  Add the meatballs and continue cooking until meatballs are cooked through. Cut the tortillas into pie slice shapes and fry over medium-high heat in olive oil until crisp and golden. Serve soup topped with guacamole and fried tortilla slices.

*I use Lighthouse brand that I buy at my local Safeway.  These are great to have on hand in case you don't have fresh shallots, garlic or cilantro in your pantry or fridge.

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