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Rule number 1 of Thanksgiving leftovers: Don't. Ever. Throw. Away. Your. Turkey. Carcass. Do what you will with the stuffing and cranberry sauce -- I

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Save Your Carcass and Use Your New Julia Child Cookbook

turkey-carcass.jpg
Rule number 1 of Thanksgiving leftovers: Don't. Ever. Throw. Away. Your. Turkey. Carcass. Do what you will with the stuffing and cranberry sauce -- I spread the latter on toast until it runs out -- the carcass is a freebie, a couple of great meals packaged up in one hideous, meat-fringed pile of bones. Three years ago, the Weekly's former food editor, Roger Downey, passed me his post-Thanksgiving tip. "I make French onion soup with roast turkey stock," he told me. Julia Child's soupe à l'oignon gratinée, turkey-style, has become my ritual for the weekend after Thanksgiving. Here's how to make it.

1. Roast the turkey carcass. Turn the oven up to 400° while you strip the bones of excess meat, skin, and fat. Leaving shreds of meat on is fine, but you want to reduce the chance of burning. Very coarsely chop up a couple of medium to large onions, a couple of carrots, and a stalk of celery. Toss them in a few tablespoons of oil, and pour them into a big roasting pan, placing the carcass on top. Roast the bones and vegetables, stirring and turning the carcass occasionally, until everything turns golden to cola-colored -- maybe an hour, maybe a little longer. The bones can look black at the tips, but you don't want to be hit with the smell of burning when you open the oven.

2. Make turkey stock. Pour everything into a pot large enough to hold the carcass (you can crack the bones with a heavy knife to help them fit) and cover it with cold water, even filling the pot an inch or two above the surface of the bird if you have room. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce to a simmer, skim the disgusting gray foam and gunk off the surface of the stock a few times, and cook for 60-90 minutes until you feel like every iota of flavor from the turkey and vegetables has been transferred to the water. Strain the stock.

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At this point you have a dark, meaty stock that smells of turkey but not as overwhelmingly so as stock made without roasting the bones. You can store this in the fridge for a week, discarding the fat cap once it cools, and use it either like chicken or beef stock for a multitude of purposes. However, if you're like millions of Americans, you bought a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking after seeing Julie and Julia, made that damn beef bourguignon and then declared the book too much work. Pluck it back off your coffee table, open it to page 43, and make this recipe.

Personal tips: It's okay to use an inexpensive brandy instead of cognac, and a fragrant gruyère instead of Swiss cheese. Be sure to splash a few drops of the stock on the pages of your book so next time your neighbors are thumbing through your copy on display they'll notice you're actually cooking Julia Child recipes.

Oh, and the soup? It's flawless.

 
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