Oops too late.
Last Sunday when I went downstairs to get some ravioli from our upright freezer, I discovered the dial was turned to off (must’ve been those damn faeries). Bummer! Everything inside the freezer had defrosted. I’m talking soups, marinara sauces, a dozen uncooked chicken thighs, plus a 14-pound turkey. Worse yet, about 500 handmade-by-me ravioli—seafood, ham and turkey, sausage and chicken, sweet potato, beef and pork, ricotta cheese and spinach.
Once nicely arranged in freezer bags, my carefully constructed agnolotti (Northern Italian for ravioli) were now a gooey mess from which there was no possible chance to salvage. Bye-bye I said as Hubby D deep-sixed them into the garbage can. Only the batch of prune, tart cherries, and walnut ravioli had survived—a specialty of mine for the discriminating palate, one served with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
The freezer couldn’t have been off for more than a few days when I quickly turned the dial back to on. Yay! It restarted immediately (again, damn those faeries). Further assessment of the defrosted damage resulted in my disposing of a variety of soups and gravies. The marinara sauce I kept, along with a large bag of chopped onions.
Although the chicken and turkey had defrosted, they were still usable. I brined the chicken thighs for several hours before roasting at 400F for about an hour, after which I marinated them in Italian dressing. Meanwhile, I deconstructed the turkey, removing the back, wingtips, and lower portion of leg (meatless portion above the joint). Those I put in a stock pot filled with water, along with the turkey neck, giblets, and veggie scraps from my kitchen freezer. After bringing the mixture to a boil, I turned down the heat and let it slow simmer for hours. The turkey breast, wings, thighs and legs I brined overnight in a bucket of water, to which I added about ½ cup of salt and lemon slices from another freezer. That evening I drained the turkey stock through a colander, refrigerated the liquid and disposed of the mushy solids.
Voila! The next morning my turkey liquid had turned gelatinous, producing a thick, rich stock, which I scooped into quart-size bags and froze. Then I roasted the deconstructed turkey (425F for about 1.5 hours), along with two very large sweet potatoes (for a new batch of ravioli) and served the meat for our midday meal, along with mashed russet potatoes, and a salad. After removing the larger pieces of meat from the bones, I used those meat-clinging bones to start a new stockpot (along with more freezer scrap veggies). Hours later I repeated the separation of mushy solids, again refrigerating the savory liquid to gel overnight.
All this cooking and salvaging got me to thinking about the 12 pounds of onions I bought some weeks ago with plans to make French onion soup—someday when the urge aroIt did that day, not because I had a hankering for this time-consumer, or someone in the family had requested it. But rather, not letting those onions slowly go to waste, in spite of my having refrigerated them—far, far away from the potatoes. Please, no finger-wagging. I know onions and potatoes have no business in the fridge, but some rules were made to be broken. At least that’s how it goes in my house.
So, that afternoon I sat at the table and while watching TV, removed the brown skins from the twelve pounds of onions, after which I placed the skins in a stock pot, cwith water, let it come to a boil, then, turned down to slow simmer for hours, producing a dark brown, onion-flavored liquid after separating from the mushy skins. Meanwhile, I cut all those skinned onions in half (from stem to root), and passed them through the slicer attached to my Cuisinart food processor—producing enough uniform onion half-moons to fill a 13 gallon stainless steel commercial mixing bowl, courtesy of my caterer friend E.
The next morning I sautéed to a light golden brown all those onion strips in butter, using two skillets to speed up the process (which took about an hour to accomplish) alonone and a half pounds of butter, and about ¼ teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper for each new skillet batch.
Time for the serious pot now—a huge, thick-bottom aluminum commercial pot (again from E), which I set on my elongated middle burner. In went the onions and when they started cooking I added some paprika, turkey stock from the day before, and after a while the onion broth, along with about 5 bay leaves. After bringing all this to a boil and adding a cup of dry white wine (Pinot Grigio), I turned down the heat and let it slow simmer for about two hours before declaring it done. Soups on, I could’ve shouted. Except it’s supposed to be better after sitting overnight. After the soup cooled down, I scooped up portions into contains for the next day or so and quart-size plastic bags to freeze for later.
As for the roasted chicken thighs, once again I removed most of the meat from the bone and froze in three plastic bags to use later for risotto, ravioli, or stir-fries. And made stock with the meaty bones and my last bag of scrap veggies from the freezer. Stock turned out perfect!
As for my ever doing this … oh, wait a minute. What about those roasted sweet potatoes I already mashed, with plans on turning into ravioli. Not this day or the next or the one after that. Those sweet potatoes are going into the freezer, that’s what. They’ll just have to wait for another day when … don’t get me started.