The Turkey Carcass two soups for the soul
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So you find Thanksgiving over, leftovers for lunch, then dinner. And now what to do with the CARCASS?

Soup of course, the Turkey carcass makes a fantastic soup. I like to separate the carcass into the flight end and the walking end. The legs and thighs and supporting muscle making a fantastic dark and robust stock. The flight end a much lighter stock. But both are delicious! So pull out
two stockpots and get some oil heating on the bottom.

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I like a mirepoix for the soup starters.

Chef Rant on:
I have had several e-mailed questions about my mirepoix ratios. They don't match some "book" and many times I don't put down a measurement at all. Mirepoix is link most things cooking, it is dynamic. I generally use a one to one to one ratio. Technically this is classified as a white mirepoix. I use it for most my lighter soups and anytime I am going to use white wine in the base as I don't want to hide the delicate flavor of the main feature in the soup.

But if I was always on the alert I would never write down a volume ratio, as with most cooking, mirepoix is a flavor profile not a volumetric measurement, while volume can get you started, only taste can get you finished. Chef Jack Wilson, the chef I was mentored by, taught me to make soups first, his biggest instruction was to taste and adjust, taste and adjust, and he hammered it into my head to
throw away volumetric measure for soups and sauces, "Bakers Tools" he said! Listen, while carrots and celery behave themselves pretty well (unless you grow your own celery like I do then it is much stronger), onions are like the misbehaving child in the classroom. Depending on time of the year, variety, and geographic location along with weather, these bad boys just do not behave. And therefore require you to taste and adjust their ratio of use to achieve the true balance of mirepoix. I have found that most Spanish onions grown in my area require a one to one to one ratio as in the white mirepoix formula. In playing with the sweet onion hybrids of today the ratio can get to 3 or even 4 to 1 to 1 to come out with the correct balance.
Further complicating things on mirepoix is the change in onions since the 18th Century to present day cooking. Today's stock onions are much more potent that the onions of the 18th Century. Add to that the 18th and 19th century
recipes for mirepoix call for shallots and other items, and you can see that like most items "Cooking" the mirepoix is a continuing work in progress made to be adjusted for the final product.

The Point? If you have never developed a flavor profile in your head for what mirepoix should taste like, you need to start to develop one. One that you use all the time so you know how the base is starting and how to adjust it to the same starting point no matter the onions strength! Having that will let you adjust your mirepoix for better balance in the final dish, more a consistent dish every time you prepare it! Start now and know what it tastes like, mirepoix is not a measurement! It is a flavor profile!

Chef Rant Off:

I begin with the sweating and roasting (red soup only) of the mirepoix. All my pots are straight stainless with the aluminum sandwiched bottom plate. So all are oven proof. I bring this up cause I like the amylase process and will also roast my mirepoix in the oven after sweating it out.

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The carcass is rendered down with a rougher chopped mirepoix and then strained. I then add a second mirepoix to the pot and render it down by sweating them out. Going back in to each pot with its stock. At this point the soups diverge onto to different paths. But the basics of the
soup are going to be the same so I can prepare all the vegetables at one time. I complete that while the carcasses are rendering.

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Once the stock is strained and placed back into the pots with the second mirepoix I start to add in the vegetables and begin the process of final seasoning for each soup.

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While the soups start to come up to temperature I get to the task of boning out the carcass for the meat I need to complete the soups.

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Adding the meats back into the soups the dish is finally starting to take shape. Both dishes are producing the results I had hoped for when I started the process. The straight turkey vegetable is coming together and
with the addition of the gemini pasta it finishes as a turkey vegetable soup. Allowing the white (flight end) of the carcass to give one more meal to all of us.

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Meanwhile the walking end of the carcass is going dark. So the red wine and tomatoes will bring it to a finish. This soups starch will be a little pasta called orzo which is fantastic in a lot of different soups.

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The soups provide a nice meal at the end of Thanksgiving, and I always have plenty to package up for the freezer.

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I prepare and package a lot of dishes with left over foods. As the children are home from college they will haul off a lot of food to the dorms for meals while they are at the college. Kind of like taking home cookin' with you to the campus. I figure if it makes them feel better and get the
school work done it is worth it. When my daughter was ready to leave I popped open the little cooler she carries and took a picture of left over food I prepared on its way to college!

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Looks like she is back into the tamales, have the frozen spaghetti sauce already packed. Two bags of frozen soup on top will keep all of it cold for the drive back down to the southwest corner of the state. It is great to see left over foods going to good use. (except it is bad to see my tamales leaving!)

'til we talk again, start tasting that mirepoix, it's not a measurement, it is a taste and you will be a better cook for knowing it!

Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
Chef de Cuisine
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

USMC Sgt 1979-1985

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