I was flipping channels the other day and landed on a Thanksgiving episode of America's Test Kitchen. One of their tips was to make the gravy ahead of time, using drippings and stock made from turkey parts. Since I'm all about doing as much prep as possible in advance, and because I think there's no such thing as too much gravy, I thought this was a great idea, so I headed out to the store for turkey parts.
Since I was looking for something that would produce a lot of drippings, I was delighted to see packages of turkey tails, which are almost all fat. I bought a package of the tails (four) and one of drumsticks (two) and last night I put them in a roasting pan in a 325 oven. I took the legs out after about 45 minutes and used them to make stock. The tails I kept rendering for another hour or so, periodically pouring the drippings off. The result was not only about a cup and a half of drippings, but also something I dubbed "turkey chicharrones": chunks (I broke them apart at one point so they would render even more) of crisp brown skin over the remaining fat and collagen. Pretty darn tasty, especially with a little salt and hot sauce. Plus, as my handyman remarked, "the house smells like Thanksgiving"!
I will definitely do this again -- maybe even as a snack -- and think it might be a good solution for people who either are reluctant to brine their turkeys because the drippings are too salty, or who do brine and then discard the drippings because they're salty. And I can give the dog the turkey neck -- win-win-win!
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