I am not thankful for snow. Specifically, I am not thankful for the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm Seattle had this year. While hell is generally assumed to be hot, I am pretty sure it actually looks something like Seattle on a snow day, and rather than the crackle of flames, one hears only eerie silence periodically broken by the whizzing sound of cars sliding into ditches. And each other. We are just not equipped.
I am thankful that the snow tapered off by Thanksgiving morning, allowing all of my dinner guests to arrive safely. We had a blazing fire and a kitchen full of cooks, and all of the good food and good cheer that we could possibly have wished for.
And I am thankful for an abundance of leftovers. Everyone went home with their share, and Michael and I still had enough to eat for three days. Plus more turkey in the freezer, and plenty of turkey stock.
I have found it best to deal with the turkey carcass as soon as possible. If I leave it in the refrigerator for a few days, it always turns out that after picking off the white meat, I start to lose interest in the desiccated remains huddled under their blanket of ripped and crumpled foil. Therefore, the morning after Thanksgiving, while the dishwasher hummed and the welcome rain melted the last of the snow, I stripped the remaining meat from the bones and made stock.
Turkey stock is so easy to make, and it is like having pure gold in your freezer. At its most basic, all you need is a carcass, a large pot, and some water. However, a few additions can improve that basic stock immeasurably.
Strip all useable meat from the turkey carcass. Put the carcass in a large stockpot, along with a quartered onion, a few scrubbed carrots, and any leftover celery on hand. Add a handful of fresh parsley if you have it, a bay leaf, and a teaspoon each of thyme and sage. If you saved the turkey neck and giblets, toss those in too. Cover with water and simmer for 3-4 hours uncovered. The volume should reduce itself by about half. Strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined colander and discard all solids. Cool the stock in the refrigerator. You can lift off the fat that rises to the top, or leave it for a richer stock. Freeze in measured batches. I like to freeze stock in 1-cup containers, but some people also freeze it in ice cube trays and collect the stock-cubes in a Ziploc, to be thawed as needed.
After you have had a chance to get over the post-Thanksgiving surplus of turkey, maybe the next time the temperature dips and the snow starts again, you can pull that turkey stock out of the freezer and have the foundation for a rich, hot, soul-warming homemade soup.
Now that’s heaven.