In praise of stock…

It’s time to deal with the remnants of the turkey. It was delicious, the best we have had in years – many thanks to Domaine du Merchien, who raised it lovingly and organically. The flavour is almost sweet – perhaps as a result of grazing on grapes….

A turkey is an expensive treat and I don’t want to waste a scrap of it. So whilst the remaining meat will be turned into Turkey, Ham and Leek Flan, Turkey and Mushroom Pie, Turkey Curry, Turkey Risotto etc, the carcass will form the basis of a stock that will be the basis of many soups to come. I have re-kindled my love of soup since we started intermittent fasting. There is nothing I like better to break my fast with than a bowl of soup. From the simplest of vegetable soups to those zingy with spices, unctuously creamy, thick with pulses or enriched with ground nuts.

Turkey Stock

Just as it is starting to bubble and come to the boil, turn it down to the lowest possible setting, then cover

So the carcass and all the scraps of skin and bits of stuffing are broken up and put in my largest saucepan. Along with a chopped carrot, some celery stalks, a couple of small onions cut in quarters, a dozen peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a large sprig of thyme and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and immediately turn down to the lowest possible setting, cover and leave for a couple of hours. In particular, avoid boiling it or simmering too fast, as that seems to bring out a flavour of bone, rather than the rich, sweet flavour of the turkey. Then I will strain it (the veggie bits go to feed the chickens, any scraps of meat will be a treat for the pussy cats) and return the liquid to a clean pan, to boil fast and reduce to a manageable quantity. This can then be portioned up and frozen for use later. I do exactly the same sort of thing when we have a roast chicken.

We also had a small joint of smoked gammon, which I boiled and then baked in the oven. I saved the water from the boiling to use to flavour one of my all time favourite soups, Pea and Ham. Any scraps of ham will come into their own with that one. The split peas are simmering as I write….

So as we move into what may turn out to be a frugal year, I am intent on making the most of all the ingredients at my disposal to add that all important element – flavour. Scraps of vegetables and their peelings, leaves from celery, herbs and spices, bones – these can help transform a simple soup into something special. So when I can, I will – make stock!

More soup recipes to come…..

Cinnamon and Citrus Pineapple

Cinnamon and Citrus Pineapple

If you are like me you were tempted to buy a luscious pineapple for your fruit bowl, but then with all the mince pies and Christmas Pudding, it hasn’t yet been eaten. Here is a lovely way to enjoy ripe pineapple.

Serves 4

  • 1 medium pineapple 338 kcals
  • 10g unsalted butter 72 kcals
  • 120g 0% fat fromage blanc (or fromage frais) 56 kcals
  • 1 lime 20 kcals
  • 2 tsp acacia honey 40 kcals
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 6 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 6 kcals

To garnish

  • A generous pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Lime zest

Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple, stand on a board and cut away the skin.

Cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 4, making 8 even-sized spears.

Cut off and discard the central core from each spear.

Grate the lime zest, or remove the outer coloured layer with a peeler (avoiding the pith) and then cut into shreds, or use a zester.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice.

Mix half of the cinnamon in with the fromage blanc, which you can whisk lightly to create more volume (this doesn’t work so well with fromage frais).

Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with the remaining cinnamon and grated nutmeg into the lime juice.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and fry the pineapple over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning so that it is just starting to brown lightly on all sides.

Pour in the lime sauce and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, spooning it over the pineapple to give a good glazed coating.

Serve the pineapple with any remaining pan juices drizzled over and a helping of fromage frais, garnished with lime zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Per serving kcals 135
Carbs 28g Fat 2g Protein 3g

Vary this by adding some finely chopped crystallised ginger in with the fromage blanc – only 31kcal for 10g.

**Do use cinnamon from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) if possible and try to avoid inferior varieties, which are usually Cinnamomum cassia from China or Indonesia, rather than Cinnamomum verum, which is considered safer to use in large quantities. Either variety may be helpful for stabilising blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.