Some days I just can’t do much.
‘Worked all weekend at the Good Earth Show (it was wonderful!) but I’m still trying to get my energy back.
Could it be that my achy, snuffly, feverish daughter has passed her bug over to me? ‘Hope not…time will tell. In the meantime, I need to power down, take it easy, recoup for a few days. But I’ve got the van to unload, inventory to check in, receipts to tally…and a turkey carcass in my fridge to deal with.
The turkey will be the easy part. While I tackle the rest of the post-show chores, I’ll make stock.
If you haven’t tried it before, I’d like to nudge you – gently – to try making your own stock. Really, it’s about as difficult as sorting, washing, drying and folding a load of laundry – you’ve pulled that off a few times, yes? – and the results are so very worth it. It’s the gastronomic equivalent of throwing a blanket over your shoulders, and given the season and our precarious health conditions this week it’s exactly what we all need.
You may ask, “what are you doing with a turkey in the fridge in January?” A fair question. Turkey is a cheap, healthy protein source, and if you have a large enough freezer I highly recommend buying a couple turkeys in November and cooking them up over the winter.
When you cook a turkey, toss the parts that you might not use – neck and giblets – in a container, and freeze them. When you have finished enjoying all the cooked parts of the bird, throw all the remaining stuff – bones, skin, whatever – in the container as well. NOTE WELL that you have raw and cooked pieces in this container. They will all eventually be cooked together, but until they land in the stockpot treat them as raw meat.
I usually wait to make stock until I have at least five or six pounds of parts and pieces. A single big turkey will provide this; if you’d like to make chicken stock this recipe will work nicely, but you may have to collect two or three chickens’ worth of goods to have enough to go to the trouble of making stock. However, if you don’t have a really big stock pot, this will all work fine with just a couple pounds of bird.
1. Weigh the frozen turkey pieces to the nearest pound or so, and put them (still frozen is fine) into the biggest pot in the house. Place the pot on the stove now; once everything is in the pot it will be pretty heavy!
2. For every POUND of parts and pieces, add:
- 1/2 a carrot, broken in half (no need to peel it)
- 1/2 a celery stalk, broken in half (leaves are fine, in fact preferred; old-ish stalks are fine, and stock is a great way to make use of the inner parts of the celery bunch)
- 1/2 an onion, cut in half again
- a peeled garlic clove (no need to cut it)
- 2-3 whole peppercorns
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 1/2 t oregano & thyme, dried (double or triple that if using fresh)
- 1 quart of water
3. Turn on the heat, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, partially cover the pot with a lid, and leave it alone for an hour or two. If you are nosy you can give it a stir occasionally. Your house will smell heavenly.
4. If you wish to add parsley or basil, they are wonderful in stock but only need to be added in the last half hour or so.
5. I usually leave mine to simmer for about 3 hours, but there’s no rocket science to stock. The only guideline I’d offer is that it will need at least an hour.
6. When you think you’re ready to deal with the next step (after 1 to 3 hours of simmering), turn off the heat. Set a colander over the next-largest pot in the house, and place it next to the stockpot. Start moving everything solid – meat, bones, vegetables – with tongs or a large slotted spoon into the colander and let drain for a minute. The stuff in the colander, once it’s drained, can be pitched – I double bag these leftovers before they go in the garbage. It will be hot, messy work, but will make the stock pot a little easier to handle. Keep doing this until you have removed and drained a significant portion of the solids.
7. Now you’re ready to salt the stock. Starting by adding about a 1/2 t salt for every quart of water, stir, and taste the results. Keep going until you’re satisfied, but don’t overdo it – it’s easier to under-salt now and add more when you’re ready to use the stock.
8. Finally, drain the rest of the stock through the colander to remove the last of the solids, working in batches if necessary.
What you will now have is pot full of liquid gold. Divide it into freezer containers, label it, and stash it in the freezer, where it will last for at least 6 months. That which you refrigerate should be used within a week. I freeze pints and quarts, mostly, though some recommend freezing small quantities in ice cube trays to have them handy to chuck into sauces as needed. I’ve just never had occasion to use less than a half a cup at a time, and even then I don’t mind having extra stock in the fridge for a couple days. It makes a perfect rainy-day, low-energy light snack on days…just like today.