help! How to get the grease out of Turkey Soup?
- ric Nov 20, 2002 07:30 AM
Every year, we try to make good use of the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. I'm talking Turkey Soup here. A hit-or-miss adventure, some years its tasteless, some years its really greasy, and once,maybe twice, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it was just right. Who knows why? Any hints on skimming the grease out of the soup are appreciated. We've done a web search of Turkey Soup recipes, and most of them sound pretty much like what we've been putting together. But if you have a tasty "sceret ingredient" that really sets off a great taste, please jump in as well. Happy Thanksgiving to all- we have so much to be thankful for!
After you boil the carcass, strain the broth into a container and refrigerate until the grease hardens on top. Then remove it. You can pick the meat off the bones and reserve to go back in the soup later, or plan multiple uses if you have a lot of it.
Next, heat and taste it (put a little in a cup and salt that part for tasting, if you need to). If it is hopelessly bland, boil it down until it tastes as flavorful as you like it. No more bland turkey soup. I find that when a soup is gelatinous at refrigerator temperatures, it is probably pretty tasty, and when it is watery and thin, it probably tastes that way too, so I expect to need to concentrate it.
If you don't have the time to wait for the broth to chill (in order to remove the hardened fat), try a grease mop -- they do work. They're composed of a material that absorbs fat but not water.
As for flavor, you can try any of the following:
Start with a good canned chicken broth (low or no salt, preferably) for part of your liquid.
Add a quarter cup or so of dry sherry.
If you happen to have some dried porcini on hand, soak a handful in some warm water, strain the soaking liquid and add it.
Assuming that you have leftover gravy, and that it's tasty, add some to your soup.
Chilling it is the best way. Even an hour of so will help the fat come to the top. Otherwise, skim throughout the process with a spoon. You can also use a paper towel if you need to.
Add white wine or sherry, leftover gravy, fresh leafy greens, a bit of mustard, smoked sausage, and/or extra vegetables to add flavor.
An easy way to degrease when you don't have time to chill drop in a few ice cubes and the fat will adhere to them
I agree with the poster who suggests starting with some chicken broth as part of the cooking liquid for extra rich stock. Be sure to add plenty of aromatics with the bones-- white wine, onion stuck with cloves, carrot, celery leaf, parsnip, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, black peppercorn. Don't fill the pot to the top with water-- just cover the bones. Simmer for a couple of hours and top it up with boiling water if the bones are exposed. Strain out the solids and chill the stock overnight. Next day, remove fat, taste, and if seems insipid, reduce by 20 - 25%. I usually make mushroom barley soup with my post-Thanksgiving turkey stock, with more onion, celery and carrot, potato, and some dried porcini along with the white or brown 'shrooms. Never had any complaints about it.
We all know how to hurry soup. But hurrying a soup stock is a lot more work (degreasing a vat of hot stock?), and will not give you a consistently high quality finished product.
The volume of water necessary to immerse the turkey carcass is likely to produce a soup which is too dilute in flavor. Starting with chicken stock will give you decent flavor, but it won't be "turkey soup".
You're not serving turkey soup for breakfast Friday morning. So start it right away (safer, too), and finish it at your leisure. If you boil the carcass in the evening, then strain, and chill overnight, you will still have time to cook it down for lunchtime, in case it needs to be concentrated, and you're not out battling the crowds at the mall.
You'll probably have at least twice as much stock as you need to serve your family twice. So freeze what's extra before adding whatever else to the soup, and you can use the frozen portions to make some up quickly on a winter evening when you're craving comfort food.
The last few years I've been cutting the carcass in half and using a fairly tall stock pot. Seems as though it takes less water to cover the bones, so after simmering I have a richer broth. My thinking is to make a turkey stock, then make a turkey soup with it. Any of the aromatics or meat used in making the broth is going in the garbage, not in the soup. As for fat removal, I use what I call a stock strainer, click on the link below to see what I'm talking about. This works great
You have to wonder how many people answering questions like this actually have experience. I've been making turkey soup annually for over 20 years as part of my family's Thanksgiving tradition. I always make the stock the day before, allowing it to cool, then chill in the fridge overnight. Not once has the grease ever "congealed" or "hardened" at the top. Oh, if it could only be as easy as that. Cold turkey grease (at least my cold turkey grease) always rises to the top and floats in liquid form. Skimming with a spoon is close to impossible. Only thing that has ever worked for me is my mother-in-law's skimming brush. It's a rather clumsy, long-handled tool with long, floppy nylon fronds on the brush end. I swoop it over the top of the stock and rake the grease into a bowl for disposal. You can try slowly tilting the pot and using a spoon, but it's not nearly as efficient!
I see you've gotten good advice re: degreasing, so I'll just pass on that chicken and turkey broth both really benefit from a good squeeze of lemon to finish.
Hopefully this isn't obvious, but as with chicken stock, two keys to keep it from retaining grease are removing as much fat from the carcass as possible before cooking it, and not boiling the liquid vigorously. If you boil the soup at high heat the fat will get suspended in the boiling liquid and make it very greasy (and very cloudy). This is especially true when there are carcasses crammed into a pot and there's no way for the fat to float to the top. The fat that's stuck under the bones emulsifies before it gets out, and then there's no way to get it out, even if you chill it. You don't need the stock to be at a full boil to get it to taste good. If you want to reduce the liquid a lot, do it after you remove the carcass.