When I woke up today, I didn't think I'd spend the better part of the morning cleaning out our two freezers, although they desperately needed organizing (a fact that hadn't escaped me or anyone else who's had the misfortune of opening a freezer door.) There was lots of good stuff buried in those freezers and I need some more room for early Christmas baking (I need to fit a cheesecake in this weekend), so after eating my granola I found myself jumping right in.
Fast forward a few hours, and I have one freezer dedicated to ingredients - everything from grated citrus zests and cups of mashed bananas to a healthy supply of bacon and chicken breasts - and the other freezer has prepared food - quarts of soup, pans of lasagna and mac n' cheese, tamales, and chocolate pound cakes. My plan is to eat from the freezer and pantry during the busy holiday season. I've also set aside a shelf for scraps of cooked meat for the doggies, so everyone in the house will benefit!
One thing that I try to have on hand is a supply of homemade chicken or turkey stock. I keep a large zipper bag in the freezer for poultry bones, and when it gets filled, I put a pot on to make stock. The day after Thanksgiving I usually make a huge batch of turkey stock. For years I'd use that stock as a base for a lovely turkey soup that we could enjoy on Christmas Eve after the children's pageant and before we hung stockings and waited for Santa.
This year's turkey yielded 12 cups of stock. A.L.E. used some to make a delicious risotto over Thanksgiving weekend; the remaining stock is in the freezer. Here's the turkey stock recipe that I use, based on the one in Jane Brody's Good Food Book:
Turkey Carcass Stock
turkey carcass bones, and whatever meat scraps, drippings, giblets (except liver), even leftover gravy, you want to throw in
12-14 c water (enough to almost cover bones)
2 large celery ribs cut in pieces, plus all the celery leaves from the heart
2 large carrots, cut in pieces, around 1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 large onions, cut in eighths, studded with 6 cloves
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and quartered
1-2 bay leaves, broken in pieces
1 tsp salt
several sprigs fresh Italian parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley flakes)
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
several sage leaves, torn in pieces (or 1/2 tsp dried)
Simmer on stovetop, partially covered for a minimum of two hours. It will get richer the longer it cooks.
Remove from heat, strain through cheesecloth, or in a fine mesh strainer, pressing lightly on solids.
- I usually put in water to just below the level of the tops of the bones. The carcass will come apart and compact as it cooks.
- If you leave the pan less covered as it cooks, the stock will be more concentrated and flavorful, but you will end up with a smaller quantity.
- I freeze this in pints and in cups. You can also freeze in ice cube trays for those time when you just need a bit of stock, but I rarely bother.