It’s almost Thanksgiving!
I go on and out on Thanksgiving as a holiday. I have had good years, bad years, ho-hum years, and in-between years.
The best years are those when the food, the company, and the spirit of gratefulness infuse each other to create the most memorable leftovers.
This year is a banner year, as it is the first time I will be cooking, and hosting, the holiday. I am pretty excited, to say the least. My husband is a fantastic cook, and a Roast Turkey Whisperer, and I think that together, we are a possible tag team of Thanksgiving Champions.
Most thanksgiving dishes are pretty basic. There really isn’t a huge leap from the first foods I made for my daughter and the majority of traditional thanksgiving sides. This is why, I believe, it is important to buy great quality ingredients, watch your seasonings, and cook everything carefully.
Therefore, I made my own vat of Chicken Stock. As a base for casserole, gravy, and stuffing. And turkey basting. I want a liquid that is delicious, not that tastes like salty can/MSG in a cube.
Chicken stock- any meat-based stock, really- is not rocket science to make. Cookbooks give recipes that are often somewhat complicated. When I read them in my head, I hear a firm, headmistress type voice imploring me to wrap my bouquet garni in cheesecloth.
People, the pioneers made stock. Cavemen made stock. If it was so complicated, man never would have invented soup. It’s basically savory meat tea.
That being said, there are several very important pieces that need to be included in stock-making:
1. A good amount of bones and skin from your chicken. I most often use the entirety of a chicken carcass, but you can save up bits of drumsticks, or bone-in breast. Leftover meat is important as well, but I would think you would eat most of the meat you would cook.
2. A combination of carrots, celery, and onions. Use at least 1 whole carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1/2 an onion. I usually use a lot more. Other vegetables can be included; there are a few absolute no-nos unless you are looking for a specific flavor in your stock. The stay-away list include anything from the cabbage family, lettuce, asparagus, and peppers. When I know I am making stock, I start a freezer bag for the odds and ends of veggies. Since you do not eat the veggies, you can save whatever. This past time I used collard green stems I had saved.
3. A ton of herbs, both dried and/or fesh. I usually use a ton of Italian seasoning and lots of peppercorns-like 1/4 cup of whole peppercorns. Since this was my Thanksgiving stock, I used a whole container of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, the one they sell as “poultry herbs.” Mmmmm.
4. More or less garlic. I usually use 1/2 of a bulb. If you don’t like garlic, you can leave it out.
Take your chicken carcass and bones, veggies, herbs, and put them in a large pot. I actually own a stock potbut you don’t need one. The only thing I recommend is not using a cast iron pot. It gives the stock an iron-y taste. Though if you are anemic, this may work for you. Fill the pot with water to just cover the ingredients. You don’t want a few bits of stuff in a huge pot of water; you want a high concentration of stuff to water. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn it down to barely a simmer. The way I describe the simmer-state is that there should be a blip bubble, as if someone was scuba diving beneath the surface of your stock pot.
Then…you wait. Let it cook forever. At least three hours. I try to go four to six.
Do not do this in your crock pot. I beg you. The water needs to slowly evaporate and concentrate the flavor.
Or, if you do, don’t tell me.
And taste it as you go along.Take out spoonfuls and look at the color. As it will not be salty, it may taste bland in comparison to your normal soup base.
When it feels done, looks done, and tastes done, find a bowl to contain the liquid, and pour the contents of the pot through a colander. I usually let it cool a bit first, so I reduce my chances of scalding myself should I spill.
I promise you people will notice a difference.
I am sorry there is no picture. I don’t have the skills to take a picture of a bowl of murky liquid.
But the deliciousness will waft through your home, and you will be so glad you made this. I promise!