Ten Ideas for Leftover Turkey

Yes, you’re exhausted from yesterday’s marathon of cooking, but don’t stop quite yet. There is so much goodness leftover in your refrigerator—not to mention you’ll need the space soon so you might as well use that cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash and other sundry items. Here’s some help on creative uses of your Thanksgiving leftovers:

1.     Turkey soup. The biggest single item in your fridge is that turkey carcass. Cut off most of the delicious meat and then submerge the carcass in a pot of water. Add pieces of raw onion, carrot and celery plus some herbs. Heat to a boil then lower to a simmer for a few hours. Remove the carcass and let it cool. Then add the meat back into the soup with cut up vegetables and noodles and you’re good to go.  Especially nice in this unbelievably cold weather!

2.     Turkey sandwiches. Okay. This seems obvious, but your weekend turkey sandwiches don’t have to be bland mayo and white bread affairs. Try the artisan bread from La Honda Country Market. While you’re there buy a can of that alien-looking cranberry jelly–a slice of it really makes a turkey sandwich special.  Or chop up some turkey and add mayonnaise, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts, dried cranberries or raisins, and you’ve got a wicked good turkey salad to put in a sandwich or on a bed of greens for a healthy alternative.

3.     Turkey Enchiladas. Once I discovered how easy and fast it is to make enchiladas in the microwave I’ve never gone back to the mess in the oven variety. Take a tortilla. Put some shredded cooked turkey in the center. Pour a little enchilada sauce (they have it at the Market) on the turkey and sprinkle on some cheese. Roll it up. Smother it in enchilada sauce and cheese. Microwave for 2 minutes and devour. Sure you can add rice and beans. But I don’t think anyone will complain if you add mashed potatoes and stuffing either!

4.     Turkey Tetrazzini. A fancy name for turkey noodle casserole, but hey, it’s still good. Cook the noodles of your choice. Meanwhile melt butter in a frying pan and sauté garlic, mushrooms, onions, peas, celery, carrots or whatever you like. Add ½ cup of flour for thickening and then 3 cups of chicken or turkey broth (or use milk instead of broth). Bring to a near boil stirring often and then turn off the heat when the consistency is to your liking. Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mix with noodles, pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle 1 cup of parmesan on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is brown.

5.     Turkey Omelet or Fritatta. A good way to disguise, er, I mean use, turkey. By Sunday morning everyone is going to be sick of it, no matter how good it tasted on Thanksgiving. Make a fritatta with turkey, broccoli, bacon, cheese and it will still taste yummy.  It’s probably the bacon, but oh well.

6.     Turkey Pot Pie. Sure you can use pie crusts (which they now have in the frozen section of the LH Country Market), but you could jazz it up by topping your turkey/broth/flour/veggies with leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes or even squash. Make individual bowls for each person. Looks great.

7.     Turkey Chili. When you’re done with traditional, turn to Tex-Mex I say. Instead of ground beef, add turkey to your favorite chili recipe. ‘Nuff said.

8.     Turkey Pilaf. Add herbs of your choice to the water where you’re cooking the long grain and/or wild rice. When it’s done let it sit for 5 minutes and then add the chopped turkey and veggies of your choice (cooked asparagus, broccoli or rough chopped Brussel sprouts work well), along with a splash of sherry, and 1/3 cup chicken broth. Sprinkle with almonds and enjoy.

9.     Turkey-Veggie Stir Fry. This is the simplest way to use up your leftover turkey. Chop a variety of raw veggies and stir fry them in an oiled wok or frying pan on high heat. When they’re done, toss in the chopped turkey and pour in a bit of soy sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top if desired. Done!

10. Hot Turkey Salad. Combine cooked turkey, chopped celery, diced green pepper, diced onions, diced water chestnuts, chopped pimento, slivered almonds, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and ½ to 1 cup of mayonnaise in a casserole dish. Top with your choice of cheese and/or buttered breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

So there you have it. If your turkey leftovers last more than 10 days, next year buy a smaller turkey!  Have a great weekend.

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About countrymarketcooking

I am blogging about my experiment in sustainable community through cooking in the tiny mountain town of La Honda, California. Each week I'll be buying ingredients for a family-of-four-dinner at our fabulous local La Honda Country Market (which we are so lucky to have). Then I'll blog about it and share my recipes for that meal. Mangia!
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