A Thanksgiving Full of Possibilities, by Mj Mojer

“When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” I sure do love a good quote, and this one has come in handy many times.  This Thanksgiving is full of possibilities. Some great, some not so much. With so much up in the air this year, I’ve taken to trying to control the things that I can. Let’s talk turkey.

This year, I’ll be buying two turkeys; one to keep in the freezer for a safe gathering down the road, and one to cook now. Last year, my kids were all scattered for Thanksgiving, my husband in the Catskills with his Mom, and I worked. Still, at the end of the day on Wednesday, that twenty four pound turkey that everyone thought was too much had my name all over it.
Literally. I wrote my name all over it so no one else would buy it. I know that to some, a twenty four pound bird for one person may seem extreme. Those same people are probably the ones that think my coffee consumption is too much, and they know who they are.  Silly people.

I woke up on Thanksgiving morning, preheated the oven, and got to work. I did not need (nor necessarily want) the usual fixin’s for Thanksgiving Day. Just the turkey, Ma’am. I had plans. Oh, such plans. I preheated the oven to 325, rinsed the turkey in cold water, patted it dry, filled the cavity with fresh herbs a head (or two ) of garlic and a lemon who’s time for anything more exciting had passed. Drizzled with olive oil, generously salted and peppered and covered in foil, into the oven went the beast. I use the 13 minute per pound method for an unstuffed turkey, so planned on about five hours. Though a practiced eye, hand and nose go a long way in determining doneness of just about anything (think about what cupcakes smell like when they go in, and when they come out. You know what I’m talking about!) a meat thermometer can save the guesswork.  I am for 165-170 degrees, and then let it rest for at least 15 minutes. That is, IF I were to be serving it then.
Not this time.  I let the turkey cool as I puttered around, went for a walk, called friends and family. I also got the big soup kettle on.

In went:
4 medium onions, chopped
1 head of celery, diced
1 lb of carrots, peeled and diced
Sautéed until lovely, wilted, translucent. I set this aside for a bit, and turned my attention back to the bird. Digging in, I started to pick away. I set aside the breasts for slicing for sandwiches, the dark meat and bits and pieces for soup and chili.  About half of my pickin’s went immediately into the soup pot. I stirred to coat everything in the goodness of the vegetables, and again, put it aside.
After I picked it clean, all of the bones, onion skins, peelings, and herbs from inside the bird went into
The big stock pot. Covered with cold water, brought to a boil, reduce to a simmer, this cooked away for about two hours, but leave yours on for longer if desired.

Now, for the fun part-Strain it all (yes, straining the carcass of a 24 pound turkey is a challenge). I do this in stages, setting another large pot in my sink with a colander inside it. I find this easier than trying to hoist potentially scalding liquid up higher than my waist. I am, after all, vertically challenged. I use a large measuring cup to get the stock out , strain it through, then transfer to the soup pot. Keep going until you have enough to cover all of the vegetables and turkey in the soup pot. Set the rest aside.

Once I get to the actual bones, I dump them into the colander, and let them sit and drip for an hour or so. By then, things are cool enough to touch, so I’ll do a final pick to get all the bits and pieces left behind. The soup, while definitely edible at this point is only the beginning. Taste to season, add salt and pepper if needed, a squeeze of lemon, add beans or anything else that strikes your fancy. I’m a big fan of greens in soup, so once I’ve brought it back to a boil, I’ll add in piles of chopped fresh kale, or whatever greens I may have on hand.

It’s important to always let your soups and stews cool down before refrigerating. I’ll pack the soup into quart containers, set them up on my counter on a cookie rack and let them go. Once cool enough, the tops go on and in the fridge they go.  The best part of a big batch of, well, anything, is sharing it with others. It may feel as though we are alone this season, as we miss friends and family.
Take a moment, step back, and see what you have in front of you, instead of what you’re missing. It may not be what you want, but it’s what you have, and that can go a long way.

Spoons up!
Happy Holidays


Maryjane Mojer, Store Manager, Bartlett’s Farm