Retake Homemade: Thanksgiving Prep Edition

I do not have a new recipe for you today, I am sorry to say.  And my weekend is going to be consumed with early prep for Thanksgiving.

Wait, Kait it’s Saturday.  What are you doing FIVE WHOLE DAYS before Thanksgiving?

Well, I shall tell you.  I have two main purposes today:

  1. Make chicken stock.
  2. Batch cook and empty the fridge to make way for the 3 gallon bucket in which I shall be brining the turkey starting on Monday.

You see, I have what I like to refer to as the Nano Fridge.  It is not one of the itty bitty college dorm varieties, but neither is it one of the nice side by side kinds with actual SPACE inside.  Oh how I lust after a new refrigerator.   Next house…    I am 5’4″ and even I have to squat to see what’s inside.  Hence, the Nano Fridge.

In any event I have many many things in there that must be used between now and Monday, so today is about figuring out in what.

The stock is first.  I have, no doubt, posted about making your own stock before.  :goes to look:  Yep, way back in the early days of the blog in 2007, I did a post on batch cooking where I discussed making your own stock.  Now ordinarily I would just roast a chicken or snag a rotisserie one from the grocery.  But I did my shopping at Kroger this week, and I don’t care for the flavors of their rotisserie chickens, and they were freaking out of whole chickens.  Seriously.  Who is ever out of whole chickens?  Well except they had the fancy pants “roasting chickens” that cost over $8.  I would really love to know what makes those chickens so special and different from a normal chicken as to cost twice as much and have the title “roasting” chicken.

It is against my bargain shopping religion to pay over $8 for a freaking chicken.

So I bought a pack of chicken leg quarters (5 lbs for less than $4) and shall start with that.  Now you have two options for making stock, and I’ve used both.  You can roast the chicken, then debone and make stock with that, or you can toss the leg quarters in the crock pot all day and cook them that way before deboning and so on and so forth.  Having done both, the latter is easier, but I think the former makes for better stock.  I have no science to back me up on this, just personal preference.  So toss your chicken or your leg quarters (lightly coated with olive oil) into your roasting pan at 350 degrees and cook based on weight.

Once cooked, remove from oven, cool, and drain off the juices from the pan into a 6 quart crock pot.  Once the chicken is cool, remove the skin and toss it.  You don’t want this in your stock because it will make it fatty.  Remove the chicken and set aside for any future recipes calling for precooked chicken.  I like to store mine in 2 cup servings in freezer bags to use in soups, casseroles, and the like.  Place your bones in the crock pot (be sure to try to get those gristly cartilage bits out).  Next you’re going to take a couple of stalks of celery, an onion, a few cloves of garlic, and a couple of carrots.  Rough chop them all and toss in with the bones.  No need to peel or remove leaves, just scrub the dirt off and toss them in.  You’ll be straining out the solids.  Cover everything with water almost to the top of the crock, and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low from 8-10.

Once your stock is a rich golden color, you’ll turn off the crock, allow to cool a while (because it is EASY to burn yourself with this), then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the biggest bits of vegetable and bone.  Discard.  When the stock itself is cool enough to pour without burning yourself, place a colander over a large stock pot or dutch oven (whatever you’ve got that has enough room), and carefully pour the stock in.  Discard whatever gets caught in the colander.  Refrigerate stock, checking after a few hours to skim any congealed fat from the top of the pot.  You might have to do this a couple of times.  In the end you will have a couple of quarts of rich, homemade stock to use for your dressin’, gravy, and any other holiday dishes.   I swear, once you’ve had your own stock, you won’t be able to go back to that pale, flavorless stuff in a box.  When I make this normally, I freeze the stock in ice cube trays (1 cup of stock makes 10 cubes) and keep in a giant freezer bag.

Now, I just have to decide what to do with butternut squash, mushrooms, spicy andouille sausage, bread dough, and several varieties of cheese.  More to come.

Meanwhile click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list of other great Retake Homemade recipes.

One thought on “Retake Homemade: Thanksgiving Prep Edition

  1. A couple things I do to make my chicken or turkey broth even richer: after deboning, I roast the bones (450* for about 30 mins, tossing after 15). And I don’t bother peeling the onions. Just quarter & toss in pot. Don’t recall where I learned these tips, but I swear it makes the broth tastier!
    Oh yeah, I also line colander with cheesecloth. The cooking in a crockpot on low (so no boil) already keeps it from getting cloudy. The cheesecloth strains out all the teensy bits. Perfection!

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