First off, an apology. Writing about Thanksgiving in February is...well...not great. But I swear I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have a very good reason and that reason is this recipe for roasted turkey stock, which is worth every single droplet of sweat, blood and tears you expend on Thanksgiving itself to make the feast. Every time I open my freezer and see the remaining turkey stock I made in November, I feel like I have money in the bank. And there's no reason to restrict the recipe below to turkey - it works just as well with a small collection of roast chicken carcasses.
The recipe comes from Suzanne Goin and is a study in the art of how to build flavor. You start out, of course, with a roasted turkey carcass (first layer). This gets returned to the oven the day after Thanksgiving to roast until it sizzles and is fragrant (second layer). Then you roast vegetables and aromatics in the turkey drippings (third layer). You add a pretty large amount of wine to the roasted vegetables and then reduce that wine until it's syrupy (layer four). At that point, it's time to add water and the seasonings and to simmer the stock until it's rich and flavorful (layer five!).
What results is a golden brown liquid that tastes absolutely amazing, both on its own or in things like risotto or other soups. But the very best thing you can do with it (besides freezing it and being delighted by it every single time you open the freezer, if you're like me) is to make turkey pho. Follow this fantastic recipe by Samin Nosrat, which adds even more flavor to your amazing stock by simmering it with charred ginger, onions and star anise - and copious amounts of fish sauce. Not to mention the fresh limes and bean sprouts and jalapeños and mint and cilantro...
Of course you don't have to wait until next Thanksgiving to try this out - the next two times (approximately, if you're using a 4-5 pound chicken) you roast a chicken, throw the carcass in the freezer. The third time, remove the frozen carcasses and add to the fresh carcass, then depart with the recipe below.
Suzanne Goin's Roasted Turkey Stock
Makes about 3 quarts/2.8 liters
1 leftover carcass from a 10- to 15-pound roasted turkey, preferably including neck, wing and leg bones
4 or 5 onions, peeled and quartered
2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 large or 5 small celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 cups white wine
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 whole arbol (or another small dried red) chile
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Using a sturdy knife or your hands, cut or tear turkey carcass into large pieces. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast until brown and sizzling, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Remove from oven and transfer pieces to a stockpot. Add onions, carrots and celery to the empty roasting pan and place over medium heat. Sauté briefly, just to loosen the crusty turkey bits from bottom of pan. Return pan to oven and cook until vegetables are browned around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and place it over medium heat. Add white wine and cook, stirring, until wine is reduced to a syrup, about 3 minutes. Add wine-vegetable mixture to stockpot. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns and chile. Add 6 quarts water and place over medium-high heat just until mixture comes to a boil.
4. Immediately reduce heat to low, skim any foam floating on top and simmer, skimming as needed, for 3 hours. Add 1 teaspoon salt and taste. If stock tastes watery, keep simmering until stock is flavorful. Taste for salt again and add more if needed.
5. Strain stock through a sieve into a large container or containers. Discard solids. Let stock cool slightly, then refrigerate. Skim off any fat from the top of the stock. Use within 4 days or freeze.