Saturday, November 26, 2011

Health Potion: Turkey Stock

This may not be a post about No Bake Christmas Treats, but I'm into it and people still eat whole chickens and turkeys on Xmas so this is what you get! Plus, I've decided everyone should be buying bone in meat/whole chickens all the time anyways. It's cheaper, more resourceful, and you get to make the following nectar of life!
These photos are from Thanksgiving (I know it's been a while, but I've been down under in Aus and a bit off the grid from the intrawebs).  I did this twice during November (two feasts) and it seriously yields so much more meat. This is me scavenging all the extra meat halfway through making the stock. You just simply can't get it all by conventional carving. Think a couple extra pounds of turkey. Win #1.

In my pot was just the carcass, water, apple cider vinegar, and various herbs (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, garlic).
All the meat taken off to the best of my ability, then it's back in for the bones! 
I got 3 delicious jars of Turkey stock out of one massive heritage bird carcass. I'm known to slurp a whole  jar after it 'gels' in the fridge (minimal calories, just a little protein/water/nutrients) and becomes delicious turkey jelly! It's also good for cooking veggies, or for soup and other things. Win #2 and #3.

I took some of it and made a grain free gravy simply by boiling (reducing) it down until it was as thick as gravy and it was delicious.
That's a lot of extra turkey! And it's oozing with way more flavor and delicious dark meat. (Don't be afraid of the fat if it's free range, then it's got vitamins not chemicals!)

Now onto the health benefits and the process:
Health: Bones in animals are considered organs believe it or not, putting them in the same category as the REAL superfoods (no not kale/goji berries which we can't even digest and absorb that well) like free range super nutrient dense animal organs like liver, heart, and nutrient dense free range fat (lard/tallow).  Kale may go right through you, but the fat soluble vitamins in animal fat get absorbed quite easily.

Inedible bones and connective tissue contain lots of goodies like collagen, glucosamine chondroitin (yes you don't need to pay $30 a month for the supplement to fix your achy joints), and other minerals.  Win #4 You just have to cook the crap out of them to extract them. Thus, we have soup stock.

The bone marrow (my favorite) is also fatty and delicious and nutrient dense along with the stock, which is actually very low calorie since after chilling all the fat floats to the top.  If your animal was free range, slurp it up or spread it on some sweet potatoes and roast veggies, but if not I'd throw it away because that's where the animals most likely store all those gross antibiotics and chemicals.  

Process: DON'T follow the conventional stock recipes/process! They do not recommend cooking times long enough for excellent nutrient extraction, just enough for good enough flavor.

Simply take your bones or carcass (best flavor after being roasted normally for the meat, but either works) and cover with enough water in a pot/dutch oven/slow cooker (maybe some wine if you have some, I always use mine once it's been open for a few days). Bring to a boil and then simmer for the appropriate time (fish bones 30min+, poultry 3-4 hours+, ruminants like beef 8 hours+). You can go almost as long as you want, just not long enough to make the bones soggy/break up and hard to deal with. These resources are the best.  Strain when finished and store in glass jars.  The fat layer on top will prevent bacterial growth and eating is optional.

You can use this same idea to braise meat, I.E. with lamb shanks or short ribs that require long slow cooking. Just cook long enough for the meat, remove and put the bones back in for the time required to make stock, and then optionally boil it down to a sauce for the meat, adding in veggies/herbs/tomato sauce/lime juice at the end for even more flavor. Works especially well with Ham Hocks.

And yes this is different from what you buy in the store, with little to no sodium, and you can freeze it for later use as well!

Also worth mentioning, I came across the Four Pillar of Healthy World Cuisine, one of which is simply eating meat cooked with the bone in! So stop paying a premium for less healthy boneless skinless breasts that lack the nutrients the bone provides and the skin contains!

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