Nov 20, 2011

Stock up for Thanksgiving

by Erin

Ahhh, Thanksgiving.  I love the colors and smells and time with family.  At our meal with extended family this year, I am responsible for the turkey, giblet gravy, and cornbread stuffing.  Homemade stock will play a major role in my recipes.

Making my own stock was one of my first Real Food cooking experiments.  I can honestly say that I've never ruined a batch of stock.  It's pretty near impossible to do.  I've dumped large amounts of it all over my kitchen while trying to pour it into freezer bags (that stuff is slippery!), but at least I knew it had lots of healthy gelatin!

Sure, you can go grab a can or a box of broth from the fancy display at the grocery store.  You can even get bouillon and “make your own.”  But let me encourage you to forsake convenience for nutritional value and yummy-ness.

There are scary things lurking in those packaged items.  One of the scariest ingredients is the excitotoxin known as monosodium glutamate or MSG.  You must be careful even on packaged items which state they have “No MSG.”   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to list MSG only if it's added in its pure form. But several food additives that contain MSG may be included without special labeling.  Here is a list of the ingredients you should watch out for, one of which is autolyzed yeast extract.

Now I have a suggestion.  Rather than trying to remember all those crazy ingredient names (or taking a  list with you), why not make your own stock?!  Then you'll know exactly what is in it.  And it will be full of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur.  You can use it in your mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, vegetable dishes, rice dishes, etc.

Another reason to avoid store bought broth is because of the crazy amounts of salt.  Even the “low sodium” varieties of broth have upwards of 500mg of sodium.  Now, don't get me wrong--I'm a big fan of salt.  But only healthy salt like Real Salt and Celtic salt.  Table salt and the salt used in processed foods has no trace minerals and has moisture absorbing chemicals added.

Tips for stock:
1. Make a batch of chicken stock this week and put it in the freezer to use for your Thanksgiving meal prep.
2. Freeze some broth in ice cube trays in case you need smaller amounts.  Each cube is equal to 1 ounce (or 2 Tablespoons).  It is great to put a few cubes in a mug, add boiling water and Real Salt/Celtic salt, and enjoy a warm mug of broth when you have the sniffles.
3. Once you've cooked your whole chicken and gotten all the meat off the bones, keep the juices and bones in your crockpot.  You can put the crock in the refrigerator if you're not ready to start a batch of stock right then.
4. Instead of throwing away your veggie scraps (like onion, carrot, and celery), throw them into the crock.  They'll add wonderful flavor to your stock.

Other Thanksgiving suggestions:  (these can be done before the actual day, saving you time and stress)

1. Having pumpkin pie?  Try making your own pumpkin puree from an actual pie pumpkin.  Here's a recipe using a slow cooker and here's one for the oven.
2. Make your own whipped topping for your pie (we will be using whipped coconut cream).
3. Buy a pastured turkey from a local farmer.  Why care?  Read below.

<<<WARNING: The following excerpt is rated PG-13 for mature content>>>

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver:

“Of the 400 million turkeys Americans consume each year, more than 99 percent of them are a single breed: the Broad-Breasted White, a quick-fattening monster bred specifically for the industrial-scale setting.  Those are the big lugs so famously dumb, they can drown by looking up at the rain. (Friends of mine swear they have seen this happen.) If a Broad-Breasted White should escape slaughter, it likely wouldn't live to be a year old: they get so heavy, their legs collapse.  In mature form they're incapable of flying, foraging, or mating.  That's right, reproduction.  Genes that make turkeys behave like animals are useless to a creature packed wing-to-wing with thousands of others, and might cause it to get uppity or suicidal, so those genes have been bred out of the pool.  Docile lethargy works better, and helps them pack on the pounds.  To some extent, this trend holds for all animals bred for confinement.  For turkeys, the scheme that gave them an extremely breast-heavy body and ultra-rapid growth has also left them with a combination of deformity and idiocy that renders them unable to have turkey s*x.  Poor turkeys.

So how do we get more of them?  Well you might ask.  The sperm must be artificially extracted from live male turkeys by a person, a professional turkey sperm-wrangler if you will, and artificially introduced to the hens, and that is all I'm going to say about that.  If you think they send the toms off to a men's room with little paper cups and Playhen Magazine that's not how it goes.  I will add only this: if you are the sort of parent who threatens your teenagers with a future of unsavory jobs when they ditch school, here's one more career you might want to add to the list.”

More info:
Chicken BROTH is made from chicken meat and chicken parts, with a high flesh to bone ratio.
Chicken STOCK is made from chicken parts that have a very low flesh to bone ratio.  Backs, neck, breast bones, and feet produce the best stock.  Stock is more gelatinous when finished.  It is also known as “bone broth.”
Check out Sally Fallon's article entitled “Broth is Beautiful.”
Here's the secret to gelatinous chicken broth.

This post is a part of Monday Mania.

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