Making the Most out of a Whole Turkey

posted by Andrea | 02/9/2013

Last weekend, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday, and the only meat I had in the house big enough to feed everyone was a whole turkey. So I defrosted it, roasted it, and hoped there would be lots of left-overs for making soups and casseroles later in the week!

I also made a bunch of extra mashed potatoes to use for my Cheesy Mashed Potato Soup (which I made earlier this week).

To my delight, I was able to pick off about 6 cups of turkey from the bones after everyone had eaten their fill. However, I knew there was still usable meat left on the bones.

So as I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I put the entire turkey carcass and all the bones into my largest stock pot, covered it with water and starting simmering.

I let it simmer about 5 hours (I know others who let it simmer over night).

I let the broth cool for another hour and then strained out all the bones.

I was pleasantly surprised to get more than TWO additional cups of turkey (about 8 cups of extra turkey in all!)

PLUS, I had 12 cups of yummy, homemade turkey broth that I divided up and froze.

I’ll be able to use this extra shredded turkey and broth for all sorts of recipes over the next couple of months, and the broth alone will save me at least $12.00 (more if I can’t find it on sale).

It only took me about 30 minutes of extra hands-on work to get the turkey off the bone and divided up into freezer containers — I’d say it was well worth my efforts!

So out of my 10.5 pound turkey, I fed 8 hungry adults, ate leftovers for lunch the next day, and still had enough turkey and broth left over to create several additional meals!

Not bad, especially since I got my turkey at the LOW price of $3.50 due to a special Thanksgiving sale + coupons! 

A Few More Tips:

  • I do the same thing whenever I roast a whole chicken.
  • I also make a delicious vegetable broth with any vegetables that might be a little past their prime.
  • If you don’t have time to simmer the bones right away, simply put the full carcass in a freezer bag and freeze it for later.
  • I didn’t add any spices or seasonings… just water, and the broth is still so flavorful.
  • Freeze your broth and shredded meat in smaller portions (I usually do 2-3 cups) so it’s easier to defrost or just grab one container for your recipe.
  • I’ve been told that you can actually boil the bones and carcass 2 or 3 times to make additional broth, but I don’t use that much broth, so I’ve only ever boiled the bones once.
  • These are a bunch of my favorite soup recipes (most of which call for some type of broth)

Buying turkey and chicken meat as a whole bird is a very frugal way to feed your family and stock your freezer. Even though it may seem like a lot of time up-front, it’s not always “hands-on” time… plus, you end up with food for your freezer, which will save you so much time in the long run.

Do you have any other tips for making the most out of a whole turkey or chicken?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: FoodFreezer Cooking

 
 

15 comments

  1. lauracyw

    02/09/2013

    I was just telling a patient last night that I do this to make chicken soup. It’s always so much better when I start with a carcus. I’ll also use the meat and leftover fixings for pot pies. Yum!

    [Reply]

  2. Five4FiveMeals

    02/09/2013

    I put the carcass in the crock pot overnight with some garlic and onion peels that I kept in the freezer. The broth is delicious and there are supposed to be a lot of health benefits to it.

    [Reply]

  3. Karen

    02/09/2013

    I am just now condensing the broth, done in a crockpot, from my turkey carcasses. I do tend to make a second batch of broth from the bones. Some people make several. It is not as rich, but I combine the batches before I store it. I know the bones have given up all the minerals they contain when even a big leg bone crushes easily with a spoon or my fingers. I condense it because I pressure can it to conserve freezer space and we use it a lot more than I thought we would. It makes a fabulous replacement for water when cooking rice or other grains and I use it to braise brussels sprouts or green beans, add it to the sauce for stir fry, in the sauce for mac and cheese or other casseroles, and my son even drank some hot after a recent bout of flu that had him feeling weak and dehydrated. I used to buy a couple dozen cans a year, but now I make my own for way less money, know exactly what it contains and use it almost daily.

    [Reply]

  4. Heart and Haven

    02/09/2013

    We do this all the time for whole chickens (which my husband often finds on sale at the grocery store). We wouldn’t have room to store a whole turkey long-term (but I might just have to make room, if we found a deal of $3.50 for an entire turkey!).

    We have a TON of chicken stock in our freezer (we use for soups, cooking rice, etc.). One tip I’ve learned is to store it in freezer bags, as they lay flat and take up less space.

    Just the other day I made chicken in the crockpot w/cream of chicken soup and a bit of seasonings. I set aside approx. 2 oz to puree in our food processor, then added the left-over drippings/gravy to thin it out….poured it into ice cube trays, and now have several healthy chicken dinners for our 10 mo. old (and soooo much cheaper than jar baby food!)

    [Reply]

  5. Laurel

    02/09/2013

    Yep, I do this all of the time. In addition to the broth, I also make a really good turkey cream soup and a yummy turkey pie.

    [Reply]

  6. Jenny

    02/09/2013

    Andrea, I’ve never done this, but do you think I could do it with a rotisserie chicken from the grocery? So would I just put the whole thing ( after we’re done with it) skin, bones, and all in a big pot of water? If it’s that easy I’d be crazy not to try :-). Thanks as always!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Jenny, I’m sure it would work! I honestly never thought of that before, so thanks for the great idea! We rarely get rotisserie chickens, but the next time we do, I’m making chicken broth :)

    [Reply]

    Nora@ The Dollar Holllering Homemaker Reply:

    Jenny,

    We do this with rotisserie chickens at least a few times a year. (We like to pick one up during our “staycations”). Anyway, we just pop our leftover bones, skin, etc in the slow cooker with enough water to cover the entire bird. Cook on low for 24-48hrs and you have tons of extra broth. The only problem I’ve had is when we got a new slow cooker that ran “hot” and the broth evaporated. So now, I double check the slow cooker before bed to make sure there is enough water.

    Nora

    [Reply]

  7. Kristen

    02/10/2013

    Great ideas! My only thought was that I thought that you’re not really supposed to refreeze meat that’s already been frozen? Am I wrong about this? I usually try to plan to use fresh meat if I know I’m going to be freezing any of it. (For example, fresh beef if making taco or pasta dishes). Just curious. :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I frequently re-freeze food that has already been frozen and have never had negative side affects in the taste or quality of the food… so I would say it it’s totally fine to do.

    [Reply]

    Heart and Haven Reply:

    Kristen, I think that safety concern is for meat that’s been frozen, thawed, then frozen again (I still think it may still be safely done, although I’ve never tried this).

    However, meat that’s been cooked is perfectly safe to freeze. (ie. I freeze big batches of homemade spaghetti sauce all the time, casseroles, etc.) This is the convenience of “freezer cooking”….cooking in bulk, freeze some, reheat later.

    [Reply]

  8. Emily

    02/10/2013

    Thanks for the tips! I purchased two turkeys at D&W after Thanksgiving for $1 a pound and put them in my deep freeze. I will definitely remember to do this! :)

    [Reply]

  9. Jen @ BigBinder

    02/13/2013

    You got a turkey for $3.50?! Holy cow Andrea! I have a big ole’ bird defrosting in my fridge that I will cook tomorrow in my roaster oven and do much the same as you – I just throw the bones in the crock pot and let them go for an entire day, the broth is SO good! Thanks for the soup recipes, I am in a soup making frenzy this winter!

    [Reply]

  10. Kalyn Brooke

    03/01/2013

    I’ve always been intimidated by the whole bird, but you make it sound so easy! Going to have to try this now…

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you can totally do it — just use the roasting bag :)

    [Reply]

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.