Whether you're going to be responsible for cooking the turkey or not, I have recommendations for all my American readers. Plan on snagging the turkey carcass this Thursday to make homemade stock - the very best kind. Chances are that no one else is going to be motivated to make stock from the remains of the feast, so scoop it up! After the larger bits of leftover meat are removed, the bones are likely to be up for grabs. If you're around when the turkey goes into the oven and can lay claim to the giblets before or after cooking, do that too. (Except the liver, which gives a subtle muddy flavor to stock. But if you can't distinguish the liver from the other bits, don't worry about it. It's subtle, as I said.) When the stock is made, you can either pressure can it or freeze it. To set yourself up for stock making there are a few areas in which you need to prepare - ingredients, equipment, and space.
Ingredients are easy. Buy an extra couple of carrots and onions, plus a celery heart during your pre-feast grocery shopping expedition. If you happen to use fresh herbs in the course of preparing your Thanksgiving feast, save a few. Or just save the stems from fresh parsley. They give a nice flavor to stock that rarely interferes with any other flavorings you want in the finished dish. Leek greens, onion cores, and celery bases also are great in stocks - save kitchen scraps and you may not need to buy any ingredients specifically for the stock.
Equipment - Mostly what you need here is a big pot, a strainer, and something to put the stock in when it's done. A colander will suffice if you don't have a strainer. Cheesecloth is the best for those who are fussy about sediments and solids in the stock. If you plan to freeze, you can use saved yogurt quart containers. If canning, you'll want the usual jars, lids and bands.
Space - Turkey carcasses are big, so bring a big container, or a big bag to cover the bones if you leave them on the platter. Make sure there's enough space in your fridge to hold the bones a day or two, unless you plan to get right down to stock making on Thursday evening. If space is going to be a problem, have a meat cleaver on hand and plan on breaking down the bones so they fit in a smaller space. (You can do this discreetly outside with a chopping board if it's going to freak anyone else out. Use the excuse of needing some fresh air - with the turkey carcass as company.) If you don't have a pressure canner, you'll need to make sure there's room in the freezer for the finished stock. You're likely to get about a gallon of stock from a turkey weighing in the neighborhood of 15 pounds. If space is a major constraint, break the bones down as much as possible so they'll be as tightly packed in the pot as possible, then make a double-strength stock by adding only half the amount of water. Freeze the stock in small quantities and mark it so you remember to dilute it to back to normal strength when using it.
When you're ready to make stock, see my walkthrough. It's for lamb stock, but the all the procedures are the same for turkey stock.
On the Back Porch of America
15 hours ago