Above, in the recipe tab I have the 12 Days of Ham – 12 different ways to use those leftovers. Here’s where I’m starting my 12 days of Turkey. It’s November 10th, so let’s see how many I can get through before I leave for my Holiday! (Here’s a link to my page for leftover fruits, just in case you’re wondering what you might do with your cranberry sauce, and a link to leftover vegetables for ideas for them.)
For me, besides spending the Holiday with family and friends, leftover turkey is the best part of Thanksgiving, and leveraging those Thanksgiving leftovers into more great meals is one the frugalest things you can do. I love the opportunity, especially of using the turkey for a rich, beautiful broth or stock. I often pick up more turkeys at rock bottom prices and throw them in my freezer – one of the cheapest proteins you’ll find.
Post your favorites, or links to your favorites!
First of all, remember the two hour window for leaving food out at room temperature. When you bring your turkey back to the kitchen, break it down and refrigerate it as soon as possible. I find it’s always hectic, messy, and I’m tired, but the leftovers are the best part of a Turkey Dinner – treat them right so you never have any doubt about food safety.
A few things to make cleaning up easier:
- Make sure you have tupperware/plastic containers and Ziploc bags on hand – or that your ask people to bring some with them if you’re giving out leftovers. Start saving containers from products you buy so you won’t end up giving away your good stuff.
- Have the garbage container out and lined, with an extra one as a back up.
- Clean up as you go along, and always rinse messy items.
- Run the dishwasher and empty before dinner so it’s ready to load, make sure the sink is clear of all items before dinner, if possible.
- Assign chores – everyone can do something to pitch in.
- Scrape dishes off into the trash with a rubber spatula – it makes rinsing and loading (or washing) a lot easier. Stack by type, then, not willy nilly and your kitchen won’t be covered in dishes.
- I use a plastic container filled with warm soapy water, and drop the silverware in there as it comes into the kitchen.
- Wash your dish towels and rags, and have plenty, clean and ready to go – the same with sponges.
- (In my family, everyone brings in their plates, silver and glasses, scrapes it in the garbage, rinses everything and puts it in the dishwasher.)
As for the turkey, slice the breast meat and Ziploc for sandwiches or casseroles. Slice off any other available meat and put in containers. Get it in the fridge and you can deal with it later. I don’t like to keep my turkey for more than two or three days in the fridge – it tends to dry and taste gamey. I’ll often portion out and freeze (for very short term or it will deteriorate in quality) and use in recipes. It’s a great time saver during the busy December month to have it precooked and ready to go for casseroles and other meals.
12 Days of Turkey:
- Best Turkey Broth - I immediately take the carcass and put it on the stove, barely covered with water (I’ll push it down, even crack the carcass a bit) and make turkey broth. It simmers on the stove while we’re relaxing. Here’s how I do it.
- Turkey Noodle Soup - You can’t go wrong with this simple, hearty soup.
- Wild Rice and Turkey Chowder - a healthy and hearty way to use up those leftovers…and with any luck, maybe you can use your leftover wild rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn, too!
- Turkey Tetrazzini - this is a dressed up canned soup variety, but I first made it as a young woman and its become a family favorite. If you’d like to go all scratch, use the recipe under Forgotten Arts for “Cream of Anything Soup.”
- Chicken Pot Pie – Made with turkey, of course!
- Chicken (or Turkey) Enchiladas - One of our favorite family recipes I picked up in Colorado.
- Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice Turkey Casserole - This dish has been around forever, but it’s a quick and easy throw together – perfect for a busy Holiday.
- Artichoke & Turkey or Chicken Casserole - This is a crowd pleaser and a gorgeous dish – think about making this one when you have a houseful of guests.
- Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole - Quick and Easy and it screams “Comfort.” Serves 12, but easily 1/2′s – it freezes well, too.
- Chicken (or Turkey) Newberg - My kids always loved this old-fashioned simple sauce, served over popovers or biscuits. It takes just a few minutes to cook and is a great way to use those Turkey Leftovers.
- Filled Won Ton Cups - filled, of course, with your Leftover Turkey done up BBQ style. One of our favorite appetizer/finger foods. These truly are strangely addictive.
- BBQ Turkey Pizza or Turkey Artichoke Pizza - yeah, you can buy a grocery store take and bake or order out, but why, when this is either/and so much better and less expensive?
I came across an article published in 2009 on Slate: The Case Against Leftovers – Enjoy your Holiday and move on…I think the Thanksgiving Leftovers are the best part of the Holiday? What are your thoughts?? What are your favorite recipes and ways to use up your turkey leftovers?
- 12 Days of Ham (frugalhausfrau.wordpress.com)