Friday, December 2, 2016

Using Thanksgiving Leftovers: Let's Make Stock

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect, remind us how thankful we are for all of our family and friends, and to share a great meal.  For those of you reading this outside the U.S., Thanksgiving generally includes a large dinner, most often with a whole turkey accompanied by stuffing and many side dishes, at which almost everyone stuffs himself or herself (this year we have appetizers of crab dip and vegetables with humus, followed by a 17 pound (7.7 kg) turkey, stuffing, cranberries, chunky chipotle mashed potatoes, creamed onion gratin, garlic green beans, persimmon salad with pomegranate and caramelized walnuts, Feel Good Bakery dinner rolls, and a homemade cherry chess pie with Tucker's ice cream, salted butter caramel and marble fudge).  One of the side effects of this great meal is that there are lots of leftovers (especially with only five people to eat all that food) and, in addition to sending some home with everyone, we face the question of what to do with it all.

One great solution that preserves and continues the tastes of this great meal for weeks is to make stock and to then use that stock to make soup when the inclination strikes us.  We started making our own stock a few years ago and now save every chicken, duck, or turkey carcass that comes our way. If we have chicken or duck during the week, we stow the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer and wait until we have enough saved up to make a batch of stock.  And now, with Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, we have a turkey carcass and chicken bones (frozen) from two weeks ago.  It's time to start the stock!

Each time we make stock, we use at least an onion, a carrot or two, a few celery stalks, several cloves of garlic, and some herbs.  Then, whatever is in the pantry or refrigerator and not already allocated is fair game and is added for a different (but fabulous) mixture each time.  After Thanksgiving, we have a rich selection to choose from.

We throw the turkey and chicken bones and scraps into a stock pot, run over to Safeway for an onion, three carrots, two stalks of celery, and a small box of mushrooms, then add them to the pot with all the other leftover produce and herbs we can find in the refrigerator.  We add about ten quarts of water (fill the pot) and bring it to a boil.

Put everything in the pot, add water

This time, the ingredients turn out to be (each chopped up);

1 onion
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
4 cloves of garlic
1 box of button mushrooms
1/2 head of red cabbage
1 tablespoon (small pour) of black peppercorns
1 tablespoon or so of juniper berries
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 large bunch of sage
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
1 dash of dried thyme (we used up all the fresh thyme in our Thanksgiving cooking)

When it all reaches a boil, we let it simmer for 3-4 hours and, while the pot is simmering, fabulous smells fill the house and the kitchen is warm and inviting.

 Simmer 3-4 hours

At the end, the bones are clean, the vegetables are well-cooked, with their flavors absorbed into the stock, and a small spoonful tastes wonderful.  To finish up, we fish out the big bones, scraps of meat, and the vegetables with a slotted spoon, pour the rest through a strainer, and have 4-5 containers of stock, each just the right size for one soup.  We freeze all but one of the containers, with which we'll make soup in a few days.

Scraps from the pot, 5 servings of stock (freeze 4)

Stay tuned for the soup.

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