Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Turkey Stock

Good stocks are always welcome items in my freezer.  They couldn't be easier to make. They may take time, but there is always a good day to mark on your calendar to spend comfort time in the kitchen. Turkey stock is the champion during the holiday season.  It can be used for gravies and soup bases.

Stock can be made way ahead of the holiday. In the Fall, as soon as I see packages of turkey necks, wings, legs, gizzards, etc. show up in the meat department of my favorite grocery store, I get to work.

This year I used turkey necks, wings and legs.  Everything gets rubbed in oil, salted and peppered.

These get roasted in a 400° oven for about 45 minutes.

 While the turkey parts are roasting, prepare the vegetables. I used carrots, onion, garlic, celery, and fresh sage leaves.

Once the meats are roasted, remove them, temporarily, and place the vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Give the vegetables a toss to coat with the drippings in the pan.

Return the meats to the pan placing them on top of the vegetables, turning the meats over with the roasted side down.

This gets returned to the oven to roast for 35 minutes longer.

Once the turkey parts and vegetables are removed from the oven they are placed in a large stock pot, covered with water and simmered for 2 hours.

Everything is strained and the stock is cooled in the refrigerator so any fat can be skimmed off.

The stock is now ready for freezing.  Pour into four 1-quart Mason jars or four 1-quart plastic freezer bags.  If you freeze in Mason jars, be sure to leave space at the top for the stock to expand and put the lid on loosely until the stock is frozen solid.  If you elect to freeze in freezer baggies lay them flat on a sided baking sheet until the stock is frozen solid.  Also,  I would highly suggest NOT using the bags with the slider zippers.  They can leak while the baggy is lying flat on a baking sheet.  Once frozen solid, the baggies will stack well in the freezer.

Turkey Stock
Adapted from a recipe of Guy Fieri's
Yields 4 quarts of stock

2 turkey legs
2 turkey wings
2 turkey necks
2 Tbsp. canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large garlic cloves
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 large carrots scrubbed
3 stalks of celery, chopped in half
6 fresh sage leaves
6 quarts water

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Evenly rub turkey parts with oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place turkey parts in a large roasting pan, skin side down, in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Prepare and combine vegetables and sage leaves.  Reduce heat of oven to 350°F., briefly remove turkey from roasting pan. Add vegetables to roasting pan, tossing to coat in pan juices.  Return turkey parts placing skin side up on top of vegetables and continue to roast for another 35 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and transfer turkey parts and vegetables to a 10 quart or larger stock pot. Place the roasting pan over burners of range top (do this only if your roasting pan is a heavy-duty pan), add 2 cups of water to the pan and boil, scraping up any stuck bits.  Pour this into the stock pot.

Add 6 quarts of water to the stock pot.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and keep to a medium to low simmer for 2 hours, uncovered until stock is deep in color and flavor.  Strain turkey and vegetables from stock, pushing any vegetable matter through strainer.  Let stock sit, overnight in refrigerator if time allows, then skim off any fat from top.

Divide stock into 4 Mason jars or plastic freezer bags and place in freezer.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Cornbread Dressing

I refer to this as Holiday dressing because that is pretty much the only time I make it; Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Most of us create some derivative of recipes we grew up with and that is the category this recipe falls into.

I loved my mom and dad's dressings growing up. Mom would make our traditional cornbread based dressing and dad would like to change it up by adding oysters to his batch. I liked both.

Once I left home for college then living on my own, I didn't make or have dressing unless I went home. Years later at my sister's house she was making a big batch of Mom's dressing and I paid close attention. I've been making mine ever since.  As with so many recipes it's easy to make them your own. This is pretty much the way we had it growing up, except for the "other" bread used in conjunction with the cornbread.

The cornbread....I don't make the cornbread from scratch the way I do for, say, ham hock and beans. I whip up a couple packages of Martha White's Yellow Cornbread Mix. There are others on the market such as Corn-Kits & Pioneer but one that I will not use for dressing is Jiffy. It's much too sweet for my taste.

Using a packaged mix makes things a little simpler; especially when there are so many other things going on in the kitchen during Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

I bake mine in an 8 x 8 Pyrex pan.   Once the corn bread is baked and cooled in the pan crumble it up. Two packages make about 8 cups crumbled cornbread. Whatever other bread you use for your dressing, you want to keep it at a ratio of 2 parts cornbread to 1 part other.

So, for the other bread choices to add to the dressing....I have used plain white sandwich bread (my favorite) such as Rainbow or, here in Texas, Mrs. Baird's. I have also had great luck with baking up a batch of canned biscuits. Enter Lovey into my life and he prefers a 'healthier' choice like La Madeleine Country Wheat. Ssshhh, don't tell him that this will not make his dressing 'healthy'. But, I aim to please my man so I now use the country wheat. In this recipe I'll use about 4 cups bread. Tear it up by hand or cube using a knife.

Once the breads are combine I sauté onion and celery in a couple sticks of butter.  Yes, I said a couple of sticks.  Butter makes everything better and tastier.  Add the vegetables to the mix and use chicken stock to moisten. How moist you like your dressing can be determined by the amount of stock you add. There's not a strict rule; it's what you like.

Prior to adding the egg to bind the mixture I season to taste with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage lastI don't usually have to add much salt because the chicken stock is normally salty enough.  Add sage a Tbsp. at a time.  I like a lot of sage but if you use too much it can leave a bitter after taste.  Get in there with your hands and mix it all up.

If you are serving dinner at a nicely set table, you can bake this in a nice oven proof, serve-at-the-table baking dish.  I made this in a disposable this year because it's just Lovey and myself.

Now, if you want to use part of this recipe as stuffing and cook it inside the bird, please just make sure that, 1) don't cram it in the cavity of the bird; pack it loosely as it will expand; and 2) take the temp of the dressing and make sure it registers at 165°F. 

 Bake for about 30 minutes until hot throughout.

This recipe will serve about 12 if the servings are approximate to the photo above.  In our house this recipe would serve about 6 😋.

2 - 6 ounce packages yellow cornbread baked according to package instructions
4 cups cubed bread or biscuits
2 sticks salted butter
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped

4 cups chicken broth, boxed or homemade
salt and pepper to taste
5 Tbsp. rubbed sage
3 large eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare cornbread according to package instructions.  Cool and crumble in a large mixing bowl.  Cube or tear up bread and add to mixing bowl.

Melt butter and saute' celery and onion until beginning to soften.  Add to bread mixture and toss well.  Add chicken broth and mix.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sage.  Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, add the eggs.

Turn mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake for 30 - to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.