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It stands to reason that I would love Thanksgiving: I love to cook, I love to have family and friends over, and I have an awful lot to be thankful for. Right now my kitchen smells like Thanksgiving heaven, redolent with smoky turkey, onion and celery, sage and thyme, orange and allspice. My children firmly believe we would make millions if we could just figure out how to capture the smell of turkey stock in candle form.

If you’ve never made homemade stock before, now is the time to try it. You are virtually guaranteed to have access to a turkey in the days ahead, and even if you didn’t cook it yourself, most hosts are happy (if slightly amused) to send their guests home with a carcass care package. Cooking stock is surprisingly simple and makes sense both ethically and economically because you’re getting the most you can out of the animal. I also find it’s a great way to use fruit and veggies that are a bit past their prime; our stock this year includes a few old apples and a rutabaga that were rolling around unwanted in the produce drawer.

The recipe below makes several scented, savory quarts, perfect for soup, stew, and pot pie. It will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer. Feel free to change the seasonings or vegetables to suit your palate and pantry.

Turkey Day Stock
Makes about 5 quarts

1 turkey carcass, including bones, skin, and leftover meat (I use a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving stock)
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters
8 carrots, unpeeled and cut/broken in half
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut into thirds
1 bunch celery (about 10 stalks, no leaves), broken/cut into halves
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. whole allspice berries
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. crushed brown mustard seed
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh sage
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Put all the ingredients in your largest stockpot (must hold at least 8 quarts) and cover with water. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for several hours. When liquid reduces by half, fill with water again and simmer for one hour more.

Strain hot stock into large bowl or second pot. To store in refrigerator for use in next two weeks, fill sterilized quart-size mason jars with hot stock, leaving 3/4″ space at top of jar. Put on fresh lids and allow to sit out on counter until you hear the pop of each lid sealing, then refrigerate. (Steam will seal jars well enough to buy you extra time in the fridge.) If you prefer to freeze your stock, allow it to cool completely, then place in quart-size Ziploc freezer bags labeled with date; freeze up to three months.

(If you figure out that whole candle thing, let me know. :)

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