About four years ago, my aunt offered to pack up the Thanksgiving turkey’s carcass in a trash bag for me to haul home to San Francisco. I crinkled my nose in response. Why would I take that nasty thing with me on the 4+ hour drive home, especially when my largest pot was no more than 4 quarts?
Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment and had finally acquired a sizable stock pot. Entirely different story. The next morning, I broke down the carcass a little, and shoved it into the giant pot with some water, leftover onion ends and herbs to simmer for a few hours. After straining out all the odds and ends, I froze a third of the stock in ice cube trays for smaller uses and the rest in 2-cup tupperware for soups and other bulk uses.
The most awesome part? I had stock for months. And all because I threw some turkey bones and onion end pieces into a pot on a day that I otherwise spent watching movies, enjoying a roaring fire and playing games.
Even more awesome part? After using some of the turkey drippings for Turkey Day gravy, I froze the rest in cubes and used those as “stock starters” once I ran out out actual stock. Just dissolved a few frozen drippings cubes in hot water and magical flavor resulted.
The lesson I learned was to save and freeze (in reasonably small portions) all those seemingly yucky byproducts of turkey roasting. It saved me a ton of money and prep time for several months’ worth of future meals, and cost only minimal time to preserve the drippings and stock since I froze it all almost immediately.
Risotto – or farrotto if you use farro instead of rice – is one of my favorite comfort foods, and starting with a great stock really makes a difference in the end result.
Here, I didn’t have any stock left on hand, but luckily had several cubes of turkey drippings to dissolve in hot water, which was still much more flavorful than the stock I might otherwise buy at the store.
The rest is history, inspired by the pear soup I made about a week ago and made using juicy pears from a second Frog Hollow Farm shipment.
I love using the savory turkey stock to balance out the sweetness of chopped pears. And instead of the Parmesan used in traditional risotto, I crumbled some creamy, tangy blue cheese into the farro. I used farro because it doesn’t require the vigorous stirring that arborio rice does, but still gets super creamy – and because I generally prefer its heartier, chewier bite over rice.
Turkey Dripping Pear Farrotto
4 c. turkey dripping stock (I made mine with 1/4 c. turkey drippings + 4 c. water; may substitute chicken or vegetable stock)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. farro
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 c. beer (I used a pale ale)
2 Warren pears (may substitute Bartlett or other variety), halved, cored and diced
salt and pepper
1/3 to 1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
In medium pot, heat stock over medium heat. Keep hot.
Meanwhile, in large pan over medium heat, saute onion in oil until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in farro, and toast for 3 minutes. Add thyme and beer, scraping bottom of pan as needed to deglaze and remove any bits. Once most of the beer has been absorbed, add 1 c. hot stock. Stirring periodically, let farro cook until almost all stock has been absorbed. Repeat process of adding stock and allowing it to be absorbed until farro is cooked and creamy but still al dente, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Stir in half of the pears and cook until slightly softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining pears and blue cheese, and season farrotto with salt and pepper (or additional blue cheese, even!) to taste. Serve hot.
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