It is a fact that time speeds with age. I know this is a fact because the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas were once interminable, now they fly. Summer flashes by and then the really busy season begins at the orchard and before we know it, the holidays are nearly here.
Most days I listen to WBUR, the local public radio station. The mid-afternoon program is Talk of the Nation. On Friday, the program is called Science Friday. I swear to you that Science Friday happens every third day! The year flys by like a speeded up film.
Every year we raise some turkeys at the orchard. Early November it is time to take them to a farm where they get turned into the form found at the local supermarket. Our turkeys seem to get huge. I mean really, really, huge. This year three of the turkeys were over 40 pounds, too big for the oven and too much meat unless one is feeding forty or so people.
Max and I cut up those three birds, ending up with over 75 pounds of meat. The breasts were cut into roasts and cutlets and the thighs boned for dark meat roasts. Doug ground up leg meat and small bits for ground turkey and the rest, bones, skin, and scraps, went into two huge pots where, covered with water, they simmered for a day. After straining the broth, I added several chopped onions, chopped carrots, and celery. A few bay leaves, a big spoonful of herb de Provence, a spoonful of peppercorns and some salt for flavoring and the pots went back on the stove for another long simmer. Finally I turned the fire on high and reduced the stock to ½ of one pot. That was strained and reduced more.
The last step was to pour the reduction into two 9×13 inch cake pans and place in the refrigerator where it turned into stiff gel. Once the fat was skimmed off, the gel could be cut into cubes and frozen. These are intensely flavored and will make rich base for turkey soups and to enhance the gravy for the smaller turkeys when they’re roasted. There can never be too much turkey gravy.
The best condiment for turkey has to be something cranberry. Here’s my favorite recipe.
Cranberry and Apricot Chutney
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ cup water
1 package cranberries (12 oz.)
¾ cup snipped dried apricots
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
In a 3 quart heavy saucepan combine sugar and water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil without stirring.
Stir in cranberries, apricots, vinegar, brown sugar and ginger. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until berries have popped and mixture starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate, this also freezes well. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Makes 3 ½ cups.