I didn't have much energy at that point ("Thanks, Tryptophan!"), so I pretty much dumped all the side dishes back into their plastic containers, wrapped Mr. Turkey up in miles of aluminum foil, and shoved everything into the fridge...
That actually turned out to be a good idea since it's easier to strip the meat from a cold bird, than a warm slippery one...
"Yeah, I meant to do that!!!"
There wasn't much breast left over, but we did get a couple of extra meals out of it. Plenty of dark meat, as well as the wings and legs. I stripped off all of the usable meat and stuck it in a zip-lock baggie.
There was still plenty of not-so-usable meat on the carcass so I figured I'd make us a batch o' Turkey Soup.
Here's how I did it (And I gotta tellya - it was deeeeeeeee-lish! One of my best efforts to date!).
Unfortunately, I wouldn't make a very good "Recipe Writer" b/c I'm not good at keeping track of quantities/measurements, as a rule. Especially when it comes to homemade soup! I pretty much employ the "Dump it in and Taste It" approach. So you'll have to adapt it, accordingly!
Leftover Turkey Soup
Put the turkey carcass and skin in a big Dutch Oven (I really have no idea how big mine is - but it wasn't quite big enough! I had to break up the body to fit it in the pot!). Cover with water. Put it on the stove and let it heat to a light, rolling boil. Then turn it down to simmer.
In the meantime, hop on your computer and Google "Leftover Turkey Soup" to get an idea of what sort of ingredients you'll want to use. I found TONS of hits and the general jist is: Throw in every damned thing you can find!!!
For the initial boiling/stock creation I threw in:
Half a large red onion, coarsely chopped
Two large cloves of garlic - also coarsely chopped
Appx 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (shredded w/scissors)
Appx 1 Tbs fresh thyme (shredded)
Handful of baby carrots
2 Bay leaves
4-5 Chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp celery salt
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Several shakes of Poultry Seasoning (I used Bell's Turkey Seasoning. The kind that comes in a little yellow box)
Let the whole thing simmer for 2-3 hours. You're supposed to cover it - but the liquid was too close to the top of the pot, in my case!
Cook it 'til all of the meat has fallen off the carcass. Then start scooping the bones out with a slotted spoon.
I set a couple of plates off to the side and started piling the turkey bits and bones on one plate - until I got the liquid down low enough that I could actually pour it into a different pot. Use a strainer to pour the liquid from one pot to another. Then dump the contents of the strainer onto the side plate.
Sit down and have a cocktail while you wait for the turkey bones and bits to cool off...
Next comes the messy part (which is why you'll be glad you had the cocktail!). Start separating bones from bits. Bones, fat, skin and bay leaf go to the trash... Bits go to the second plate. Bits include smidges of turkey meat and mushy-smushy veggies - basically anything edible!
Since I started this fairly late in the evening, I decided to stop after this. I poured the turkey stock into several plastic storage containers. I threw the turkey/veggie bits into the last half-container of stock and put everything into the fridge overnight...
Again - this was a Good Idea because after they were refrigerated, all the fat rose to the top and it was easy to scoop most of it off with a spoon and discard it...
"Yeah, I meant to do that!!!"
The rest of the stock was kinda gelatinous at this point - but that goes away once it gets re-heated...
I threw all of the stock (except for the half-container w/turkey-bits) back into the dutch oven and let it start heating up.
As for the 'bits,' I added a large fresh clove of garlic and I ran 'em through the blender/chopper to puree them before dumping them in with the broth. That was a very good idea and added a lot of "Oomph" to the flavor!
I let this simmer for awhile (maybe half an hour) and then started adding every-damned-thing I could find to the soup :-D
Chopped up some leftover turkey into spoon-sized pieces and threw it in
Added some more chopped onion (not so coarse, this time)
Threw in some more baby carrots
Chopped up some celery
Added more fresh parsley and thyme
Added about 1/2 cup of the spinach/artichoke dip
Even threw in about 1/3 cup of the sweet potato casserole and mixed it in (that was an EXCELLENT addition - but I did need to add more salt to offset the sweetness).
Then a bag of frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, beans)
Let it simmer away...
Hmmm... Now what?
I didn't have any rice - but I DID have Pasta Roni!!! I grabbed a box of Angel Hair Pasta w/Herbs. Broke up the pasta into thirds and tossed it in. I even threw in the "Herb Seasoning" packet.
At this point, the soup was starting to get a bit thick, so I added a couple of cans of Chicken Broth (one was Chicken w/Garlic - the other was just plain Chicken). Naturally I was taste-testing the flavor of the broth the whole way through...
Toward the end of cooking - probably about half-an-hour before I would declare it "Done" - I added about a cup of sliced, fresh, brown mushrooms and let them simmer in as well.
I gotta tellya - this was a DAMNED GOOD SOUP!
I can't tell you how many servings - but I can tell you it's a LOT! If we don't manage to polish it off tomorrow, I swear I'm gonna freeze the leftovers 'cuz it would be a crime to throw this away!
(BTW - I'm not normally one to "rave" about my own cooking! But I'll make an exception in this case!)
I think the main things that Made The Difference were:
1-Pureeing the turkey/veggie bits and adding 'em back in
3-And the pureed sweet potatoes - Oh my Gawd! Deee-lish! One doesn't expect a hint of sweetness in soup (at least *I* don't!) - but that added just enough of a "zing" to make me go "WOW!"
So if you've got a turkey carcass sitting in your fridge right now - I suggest you make yourself a batch of Leftover Turkey Soup! You'll be glad you did!!!