Here's a lesson for all you new writers out there. When you work for a new site (or anyone) please save a version of your finished work. You may think once it's published you'll always be able to get your hands on a copy. Not so. Have you begun your Thanksgiving preparations yet? It's about two weeks four days away. I just realized this today the other day and thought I should offer you some make-ahead advice and recipes. Then the Wordpress text editor decided to hide my publish button, then I got busy with life...So here we are, looking down the barrel at THURSDAY.
Here's one thing you can do now and throw in the freezer, it will save you time, money and add incredible flavor to your Thanksgiving table. Bookmark this for next year, if you're too stressed to add one more thing.
Homemade Turkey Stock
For those who are scared of gravy there are some easy shortcuts, some passable substitutions but really good from-scratch gravy isn’t so very hard. You can make turkey stock well-ahead of time, freeze it and be way ahead of the game by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. It’s great for basting dressing baked outside the turkey, basting the bird and of course, for gravy.
DIY Turkey Stock - you won't believe how easy and how rich this is.
Four turkey wings, ask your butcher to chop into pieces (about three pieces per wing)
2-3 TBSP vegetable oil
2 carrots, two celery stalks with leaves, two onions, rough chopped, divided
6-10 fresh parsley sprigs
whole peppercorns, whole allspice, cloves.
3-4 fresh sage sprigs
2 TBSP butter
Thanksgiving Spice, optional
Order 4 turkey wings from a good family farm. Whole Foods Market is where we got our stock wings. They're raised humanely on a local farm. (We like Bob’s in Lancaster for the turkeys. Broad breasted white but naturally raised on pasture with only minimal antibiotic in first few weeks of life.) Have the wings cut in about 2” pieces, or use a sturdy cleaver and mallet to do so at home. This releases collagen from the bones and produces a rich stock.
Coat a large, sturdy roasting pan lightly with about 2 TBSP vegetable oil. Roast in hot oven (450 degrees) the chopped turkey wing pieces, a rough chop of large onion, large carrot, large celery stalk. Turn after about 20-30 minutes to evenly brown the turkey, add herbs and spices: 6-10 sprigs of fresh parsley; teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns, 2 dried bay leaves, 4 whole cloves, 2 allspice berries.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the turkey to a large stockpot.
Place the roasting pan on two burners on med-high heat.
Add one cup of dry sherry and one cup of cold water to pan. Scrape up all the browned bits in the pan.
In stock pot, saute reserved mirepoix in a little butter or glug of vegetable oil, sprinkle with kosher salt. Once veggies begin to soften, add all the contents of the roasting pan and get every last bit of goodness in the pan.
Add enough water to the stock pot to cover the wing pieces, plus 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil skim off any foam that accumulates.
Reduce to simmer, add 3-4 sprigs of fresh sage, and let stock bubble gently until the meat is falling of the bone about 3-5 hours.
Strain the stock, and refrigerate. You can remove some fat from the surface of the chilled stock if you like. (Reserving it for gravy, of course.) Then freeze the stock until Thanksgiving.
To make gravy: simply start with a roux (1:1 butter:flour) then add one cup of hot stock, 1/4 C at a time. I keep stock simmering on the stove and use to baste and to add to dressing. I use Madeira to deglaze the turkey roasting pan, then add that to your roux and stock. Finish with fresh thyme leaves. Heaven!
Alternately, I sauté turkey gizzard, heart, neck and fresh mirepoix, add flour, deglaze with Madeira, then add stock. Add fresh thyme at the very end, just before serving. White pepper is key.
Should I do a Thanksgiving newsletter in October 2013 to get you (and me) in the groove?