From Autonomy Farms
When a rancher spends every day for weeks to months to years raising an animal, they care how it’s used and farmers have many a tip for turning what would otherwise be considered waste into top notch eats.
At Autonomy Farms, they like to convert their turkey leftovers into big batches of tasty stock that can be eaten straight out of the pot as a soul-warming soup or used in their suggested holiday gumbo.
“We don’t let any part of an animal go to waste because we work so hard to get them ready to harvest. Making big batches of turkey broth helps to ensure nothing goes to waste and is the perfect base for so many recipes,” said Meredith Bell.
“We only smoke a turkey once a year, so we get to store all the broth and pull it out over the year. It’s a great use of leftovers and warms you up on those cold days. The soup also freezes great.”
The ranch is a family owned operation, founded to reconnect eaters with their food.
On the farm side, the family practices a crop rotation model to replenish the soil and on the animal side, they are committed to humanely raised meat and eggs.
Their meat birds are pasture raised with a supplementary diet free of corn or soy.
Birds are raised slowly to allow for natural growth and the farm is one of the few to still process animals on site. Their poultry is leaner due to its better diet and has more actual meat per pound because it’s not injected with a saline solution before packaging.
As farmers depending on the whims of nature, the family has an appreciation for the region’s mild winters as it allows them to maximize their yields and provide consumers with more access to quality food.
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel like winter because the changes in weather are so minimal, but it’s a total blessing because if we had super cold winters with snow and freezes, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she said.
While there’s harmony over their ranching practices, there is conflict over the cooking but that actually makes for a better holiday meal.
“Our family is in constant disagreements whether smoked or fried turkey is the best way to go, so we cook two, which means we always have lots of leftovers,” said Bell. “The broth from a smoked turkey takes on an incredible flavor and makes the best base for soups and stews.”
Those leftovers are important when feeding a growing brood that travels from far and wide to reconnect during the holiday season.
“Our family all lives in different cities, so it’s really that the holidays give us the chance to spend some time together,” she said.
“Farm life is hard and it’s even harder to get away, but not matter what, we always make time to spend together and take some time away from the farm,” she said.
“Now that we’ve expanded with spouses, kids, etc., it’s just too much for our mom to cook alone. We all choose to cook two dishes that we want and then my mom handles the desserts, which is her favorite part and my dad cooks the turkeys.”
No matter whose turkey turns out best, they family agrees on the value of farm to field food.
“Because we farm, we eat everything off the land that’s fresh and not processed. Packaged foods like stuffing or cranberry sauce may be my absolute least favorite.”
Autonomy Farms sells at Santa Monica’s Wednesday and Sunday markets. (661) 430-0106,
For Turkey Broth
3 lb. smoked turkey wings
6 scallions, roughly chopped
4 sprigs parsley
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
3⁄4 canola oil
1 1⁄2 lb. andouille, roughly chopped
1 cup flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1 small white onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. granulated onion
2 tsp. mesquite seasoning
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
1 1⁄2 lb. smoked turkey breast, cut into 3⁄4″ pieces
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Make the stock: Bring ingredients and 1 gallon water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 4 hours, then strain stock and keep warm.
Make the gumbo: Heat 2 tbsp. oil in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high. Cook andouille until fat renders, 8-10 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add remaining oil and sprinkle in flour; make a dark roux.
Add garlic, onions, and bell peppers; cook until soft, 10-12 minutes.
Stir in granulated garlic and onion, mesquite seasoning, cayenne, white pepper, and chili flakes; cook 1 minute.
Add reserved stock and andouille, the turkey breast, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until gumbo is thickened, about 1 hour. Serve with rice.