Many states have laws that discourage hunters from “intentionally or negligently” wasting usable parts of harvested game. Only a fool would shoot a deer only to harvest the loins and tenderloins and leave the rest of the animal behind.But it is an all-too-common practice to remove the breast fillets from upland birds and waterfowl and discard the rest. I assume that there are hunters who just don’t know what to do with the other parts. Others are just plain lazy.
Think about how great it is when you make soup out of the Thanksgiving turkey carcass. The flavor is far superior to anything you can get out of a can or bouillon cube. So why not make the same soup stock from the lesser parts of your wild turkey? The process is simple. Even if you just “peel”, rather than pluck your birds, save the breasts for something special and turn the rest of the birds to make stock for soups, stews and sauces. Since it has never made sense to me to cook most whole game birds, I separate them into parts when I get them home for processing. Breasts cook quickly. To get the most out of the tougher parts, cook them slowly with moist heat. Breasts are vacuum-sealed and labeled. The other parts can be bagged and tagged for stock or slow-roasting. Once I get a decent pile of wild turkey legs, thighs and carcasses, I’ll take the time to turn them into stock. More room in the freezer and a delicious stock that I can either use right away or freeze for later.
Start by placing the turkey carcass, legs and thighs into a lightly-oiled roasting pan. Add several rough chopped celery stalks, carrots and 1 large chopped onion. You can also include the trimmed ends of the vegetables. Onion skins are OK, too. Place the pan into a preheated 400-degree oven for about an hour, turning over the contents of the pan a couple of times.
Once the contents of the pan are evenly browned, transfer everything in the pan to a large stock pot. You might have to break the carcass in half, depending on the size of the pot. Toss in some chopped celery, carrots, onions and a bay leaf or two, some peppercorns and some crushed whole garlic cloves. Cover the contents of the pot with cold water, bring to just under a boil and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 8 to 10 hours, adding more cold water as needed to just cover the body parts and vegetables. Place a large colander over a second pot and pour contents of the pot through the colander to remove solids. Set large pieces aside, remove any meat from the legs, thighs and carcasses and reserve. Rinse colander with water and line with cheesecloth or two-ply paper towels. Pour contents of the pot through the colander into another pot to remove small particles. Discard contents of colander.
Hot and Sour Wild Turkey Soup
6 to 8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups each chopped celery, carrot and onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 cups baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
2 to 3 cups cooked wild turkey, shredded
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, minced
1 quart wild turkey stock
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup each rice vinegar and soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 cup diced tomato
3 tablespoons corns starch mixed with equal part cold water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly cilantro leaves
1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrot and onion and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup of the wild turkey stock. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have reduced in volume by one-half. Add baby bok choy, cooked wild turkey, pickled ginger and remaining turkey stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add broccoli florets. Cook for 2 minutes more.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and Sriracha. Add to stock pot with diced tomato and stir. Add cornstarch mixture, bring to a boil and stir to thicken soup.
3. Add beaten egg, stir lightly and cook for 1 minute. Serve in bowls and top with cilantro leaves.