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. (more…)
Growing up, my mother always made corned beef, cabbage and potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day. I can’t recall eating cabbage any other day in the entire year, but I really looked forward to it each March. This year, I couldn’t quite wait for the holiday to arrive (and I didn’t have any corned beef left over quite yet to make corned beef hash and cheese bread), so I got my cabbage fix in a little early, swapping out traditional potatoes for the lighter, foodier celery root in the process.
If you have not tried celery root (also called celeriac) before, it’s a really strange-looking type of celery that’s grown as a root vegetable. Don’t be intimidated by its furrowed surface, as it actually has a very mild flavor that seems to be a cross between a potato and celery. But unlike its root vegetable brethren, celery root is very light in starch. Give it a try; you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised that this ugly root can taste so light and fresh!
As for cabbage, I know it’s not the most popular leafy green vegetable in the produce section. And if you’ve ever had it cooked to death in a soup or stew, or boiled to death for St. Patrick’s Day, I don’t blame you for hating it. But if you give cabbage another chance, you might find that it can taste positively delightful when cooked properly to an “al dente” texture that retains the slightest bit of crunch. And it’s usually dirt cheap.
The combination of al dente strips of cabbage and tender cubes of celery root creates a surprisingly light and fresh-tasting dish, as contrasted with the heavier boiled cabbage and potato combination. (more…)
It’s New Year’s Eve, and let’s be realistic. As much as you may want to celebrate the first day of the 2011 with a decadent meal tomorrow, festivities that end up getting a little too festive tonight are likely to get in the way of prepping a complicated New Year’s Day dinner. Luckily, a little beer, a steamer basket, some fresh or defrosted lobster tails, and some melted butter provide a simple, hangover-friendly solution. And with frozen lobster tails running about $6 each, this makes a perfectly romantic dinner for two without breaking the bank.
Boiling beer rises up to tenderize the lobster as it steams the luscious meat. While your lobsters cook, you can whip up drawn butter, which is basically just butter melted to the point that milk solids clump together and can be spooned out of the silky magnificence left behind. (more…)