Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving countdown: Stocking up

So Thanksgiving is at my house again. Do you want to come? Oakland is the nearest airport, and you should be here by about 3:00 because that's when badminton begins. Here's the plan: We have a cocktail and munch a few appetizers, play some badminton, have another cocktail and munch a few more appetizers, yack a bunch, have dinner, yack a bunch, have dessert, and then lie on the floor holding our stomachs. Thanks goodness we got that badminton in, right? And if you get here earlier in the morning, you could come on my family's hike in the canyon to look for migrating salamanders, which should help a little with the calorie situation.

Thanksgiving is a little over a week away—time to get cracking! First up on my agenda is making sure I have lots of stock. I need it for gravy, for stuffing, and possibly for some of my vegetable dishes (anything cooked in water is better cooked in stock).

I know some people do crazy things like roasting bones, but I think that sort of misses the point. Stock should be made from what is left over, like all those chicken carcasses that I bag up and throw in the freezer until we reach critical stock mass. Regardless of what else I add, I've found the best stock I make is that with the most chicken carcasses. Three or four is good.

I add a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, an onion, a handful of parley, a bay leaf, some thyme, some sage, a few peppercorns, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Sometimes there has been a lemon inside one of the chickens, and that ends up in there too.

I simmer overnight, let cool the next day, then strain the broth through a mesh colander lined with cheesecloth, and refrigerate it to let the fat harden on top.

Usually I remove the fat, ladle the broth into containers, and freeze, but because I have an afternoon at home (parent/teacher conference week, with all half days) and just because I'm feeling special, I'm going to cook down the defatted broth to concentrate it, giving me a richer broth and saving some freezer space.

Coming up: knife sharpening, turkey buying, menu planning, pie crusting, and a discussion of ambrosia.

So, are you coming?


Kalee said...

I too had been told the best stock was by roasting the bones, but since I agree the point is to use as much of what you have, that seems a little more work. Short of you buying a chicken, dividing it and deboning it yourself for some cooking and then roasting the bones (or getting free bones from a butcher who has no use for them) this seems the best option.

I love this, and it looks super yummy....Thanksgiving will be lovely I'm sure!

Purple Flowers said...

I would love to! You're so nice to invite me. Now if we can just work out whereby I'm cooking here for family, and arriving at your house for a Figs Thanksgiving! :)

Trish said...

I wish! I'm cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Kate said...

Yum Yum Yum! I never roast the bones...every other week I roast a chicken & then make stock later in the week. Thanksgiving in CA would be fantastic! I am not hosting this year so will just be making a pumpkin cheesecake and TBD appetizer.