Many of you know that I have been teaching a Making Nutrient-Dense Stock cooking class for years now. Wonder if I could ever get ho-hum over making stock? No way! I keep trying new bones and new bone combinations…(from pastured animals, of course) remembering that to achieve a nutrient-dense, aka gelatinous stock, one must have more cartilaginous bones or joints than just boney bones. A few months ago, I experimented with ox tails! (Really, it was bison tails. I’ll tell you about real ox tails later.) Well, the other day, it was turkey necks! I can no longer contain my enthusiasm about the success of my turkey stock experiment. I must share it with you! Here goes!
A few days ago I walked into my local meat market, Rocky Plains Quality Meats, which features only grassfed and finished beef and bison, as well as pastured chicken, lamb, pork and occasionally turkey. I saw turkey necks in the refrigerator and decided I would try an experiment: turkey stock made from turkey necks. So I purchased about 2 pounds of necks, and brought them home.
Although I normally do not roast chicken necks if I use them, I roasted these turkey necks, as they were large and had a lot of meat on them. 350 F for 30 minutes on a parchment lined sheet pan. (I only roast what I call “meaty” bones…that is, bones which are mostly meat…to concentrate flavor and color!)
As I had a little over 2 pounds of necks, I decreased my usual 4 quarts of water (for 4 # of chicken bones) to 3 quarts of water, and added celery, carrots and onion. I also added one pair of chicken feet, and some chicken gizzards which I had in the freezer. I brought it all to a boil, skimmed and discarded the scum, and lowered the temperature so the stock would roll at a simmer, covered.
I simmered that stock about 30 hours total. (Chicken stock usually rolls for 6-24 hours, and I always go long. I figure if I am going to make stock, I’ll go the distance. I increased the number of hours for the turkey necks because they are a bigger bird.) After a few hours, I cut up the two chicken feet and all the necks with poultry shears, to expose the gelatin to the water.
After 30 hours, I strained the stock, let it cool on the counter, and then placed it in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. It did not look particularly gelatinous when I strained it, in fact, I thought I most likely had achieved a thick, viscous stock, not one that would fully set up.
But I was pleasantly mistaken!! The next morning, viola! Gelatin gelatin gelatin! I could have cut it with a knife. Woo hoo! What did it? Some might say it was the chicken feet, but I only added 2 feet with all those necks…maybe it was because I cut up all the necks and the feet. Who knows? We do know that necks are full of cartilage…but I had never had stock made from chicken necks gel. Hmm. We may never know. I don’t really care, because I found a winner! Inexpensive, nutrient-dense and easy. Love it!
…and… hold on to your hats, folks, for an even GREATER thrill, I pulled the meat off the necks when it cooled, chopped it up, and made turkey STEW! I could have fed an army on that stew! (That means lots and lots of people.) The recipe could have easily taken another 2 quarts of stock and still been thick and hearty. I great meal. The stew was delicious AND nutritious! I invite you to make the recipe below and then when you are done, add an additional 2 quarts of stock. Try it! You’ll double your volume. Then you’ll have lots to freeze for quick and easy homemade meals! Here’s the basic recipe–I didn’t really measure for this one!
All ingredients are organic–so I won’t keep typing organic over and over!
Monica’s Turkey Stew
4 cups (yes, those necks yielded 4 cups!! Can you believe it?) turkey reserved from turkey stock, chopped up, bones removed
3 quarts turkey stock
1 cup wild rice (omit if grain free or use brown rice or a combination)
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed through my fingers (like my Grandmother used to do when making pasta sauce…and my Mother and I still do!)–get a BPA free can or a glass jar if possible!
3 large carrots, diced (dice will make it easy to eat from a spoon)
1 medium zucchini, diced (can add more)
1 medium onion, minced (can be yellow or red, or replace with equivalent of leeks if you wish)
3 celery ribs, minced
1 can black olives, olives drained and cut in half (can also use green olives if you prefer)
fresh thyme, 3 sprigs plus 1-2 tsp dried
1T dried basil, more if desired
Celtic salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
First, add the wild rice to the stock. I like to use a 5 quart Dutch oven, but if you are going to add the additional stock, use an 8-10 quart stock pot. Bring to a boil, skim and discard scum. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook about 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, add vegetables. Bring back to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, taste to be sure vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and black olives (omit if you don’t like olives), salt and pepper and reserved turkey. Stir. Cook to warm through.
Ladle into bowls and add a tablespoon of creme fraiche to each bowl just before serving. (You may also choose to add yogurt, cultured buttermilk, sour cream, ghee or butter instead of creme fraiche. All of them taste delicious, and all of them help your body easily absorb the nutrients in the soup!)
Oh, and BTW, mix up your veggies, folks! Use what you have! I often add mushrooms if I have them, chopped up chard (add chard when you add the turkey so it doesn’t cook too long and get mushy), potatoes if you eat them, turnips, parsnips, etc etc etc. Mix up the spices for different flavors, too, depending on what you like.