Turkey Time – Make the Most of that Turkey by Chris Jepson, Grocery & Wellness Manager

Thanksgiving 2020 will probably look different this year. A smaller group, a less complex meal, and perhaps a different level of thankfulness.

If you’re preparing a full Thanksgiving meal for the first time you can easily turn to a trusted online source for guidance on timing (Thanksgiving dinner is all about the timing!), specific dishes, and inventive table settings. For recipes, we recommend the ease and accessibility of Jamie Oliver (jamieoliver.com), or Ina Garten, for ease and elegance. The Joy of Cooking is also a fail-safe choice.

However you proceed this year, give yourself permission to prepare a simpler meal, shared with immediate family or your social bubble. Know that you can prepare dishes ahead to reheat on Thanksgiving Day.

If this is your first roasted turkey, the preparation can be intimidating. The Co-op’s grocery manager, Chris Jepson, offers the following advice for successfully navigating your way around the special bird.

“For many people, the holiday turkey is the largest single item they have ever considered cooking and some planning is required,” says Chris. “Cooking a turkey well is a serious undertaking but, done correctly, it can yield an impressive holiday centerpiece, delicious leftovers, and a batch of nutritious broth. If you are purchasing a natural bird (you should be!) it won’t be cheap so getting your money’s worth is crucial.”

Think of the roasted turkey as three stages of meals. The first is that beautiful Thanksgiving Day meal. Leftovers, carefully harvested from the bird, can be enjoyed as classic turkey sandwiches the next day (yum!) and/or turned into a cheesy turkey casserole or enchiladas to be enjoyed in the following days or frozen for later. Chris’ favorite leftover trick is using the bony carcass to make a long-cooking and deeply nourishing bone broth.

To start, make sure to leave enough time for the turkey to thaw. The Co-op’s turkeys are deeply chilled and can take up to two days, depending on size, to thaw completely in the refrigerator or a cooler. “A good tip is to clean out your refrigerator and freezer leading up to the holiday so there is sufficient room for the thawing turkey, leftovers, and the delicious broth,” says Chris.

Cooking a large bird requires a few special items, though simple modifications can eliminate the need to purchase new equipment. “A roasting pan large enough to hold your bird, and a stock pot big enough to hold the carcass are items that aren’t common in many kitchens,” shares Chris. Inexpensive, disposable aluminum pans work great. For extra stability, nest two pans together and place them on a baking sheet. As an added bonus, those disposable pans can go right into a garbage bag at the end of the meal. No cleanup needed!

To make a nutrient packed bone both, a stock pot large enough to hold the entire carcass is needed. Don’t have a pot big enough? Break up the carcass and use part of it. The idea is that you utilize as much of the turkey as possible; whatever you can manage is still impressive. The broth simmers for many hours on the stove, then is chilled and stored safely in the freezer.

This is the year to spend the time to learn how to cook a delicious turkey dinner.

Chris Jepson’s favorite roasted turkey bone broth recipe from Kettle & Fire

Turkey carcass
Turkey giblets
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup parsley (1 small bunch)
1 mandarin orange peel (orange peel or lemon peel works too)
2 bay leaves
7 quarts filtered water

Place the turkey carcass and giblets in a large stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, orange peel, and bay leaves, and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 8-10 hours.

Discard the solids and strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large container. Ladle the broth into mason jars. Once it’s cool, you’ll be able to remove the fat on the surface easily with a spoon. Enjoy and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers for later.