Making the best use of that leftover holiday bird
Just hosted Christmas or Thanksgiving? Although your guests ate until they were stuffed you still have turkey leftovers so, alas, what to do with them? Let’s face it – turkey is delicious and shouldn’t be wasted. Thank you for looking up what to do with your leftovers. You wouldn’t want any of it to go to waste, of course. So how can you get rid of those turkey leftovers?
1. Pawn it off on your guests.
You may like some turkey leftovers but could get sick of eating nothing but turkey so if there are loads, pass some off. Wrap it in tinfoil, put it in Tupperware or containers and send it with your guests.
It’s a good idea to stockpile some plastic containers (like margarine or yogurt) you won’t be sad to part with before hosting a crowd so that you can send it home with them and not have to worry about getting it back. They’ll be happy to have the leftover turkey and you’ll be happy to have a more manageable amount.
2. Eat a leftover holiday meal.
Leftovers can be delicious. Load up your plate with leftover potatoes, corn, stuffing, turkey and whatever other things your family prepares for the holidays, stick it in the microwave, and enjoy. Remember the fixings are just as important the second (or third) time around so get those cranberries and that gravy out too.
3. Make a sandwich.
Turkey sandwiches are yummy and the same goes for leftover turkey sandwiches. The key is to add some oomph to it. Try heating up the turkey and having gravy to dip it in – turkey dip sandwich. Use the turkey cold and add your leftover cranberry sauce to it to create a tangy lunch. Why not go open faced on a leftover dinner roll (you may have some of those too) using mayo, red onion and melted cheese on top (Monterey jack is good). The sandwich possibilities are endless and delicious!
3. Turkey fajitas.
Pull the turkey off the bone and reheat it in a skillet with onions and peppers. Feel free to add a fajita seasoning pack (but not necessary). Eat it on wraps with your favourite fixings such as cheese, salsa or guacamole.
4. Throw it in a pasta.
Nothing could be easier than adding already cooked meat to pasta. Turkey is a lean white meat and makes a healthy, protein filled addition to a carb rich meal like pasta. Use our favourite sauce – tomato, pesto, alfredo – add some veggies (turkey goes well with broccoli, asparagus and peppers) and voila! You have an easy and tasty meal.
5. Make a turkey potpie.
Very similar to a chicken potpie, a turkey potpie can be as easy or hard as you make it. You can use a store made crust or make the crust yourself. You can choose to put as little or as many vegetables into it – some favourites include carrots, celery, onion, corn and peas.
Don’t forget the yummy gravy or sauce to go with it too. Cook it up, mix it all together and throw it in the crust. There are many good recipes for pot pie out there – choose one that suits you and your family. If you are cooking for a small number consider making individual sized pot pies so that you won’t have leftover turkey and leftover pot pie.
6. Freeze it.
If you’ve made sandwich after sandwich and are getting tired of eating your turkey, freeze it for later use.
When freezing turkey think of what the amount is you’ll want when you take it out and what you’ll be using it for. If you’re going to unthaw it for pasta it’s a good idea to put it in the freezer already cubed with the approximate amount you want. If it’ll be for fajitas pull the meat before freezing so it’s easy and ready to use. Try not to put too much in one bag as you’ll be more likely to waste it – it’s easier to thaw out two small bags than it is to thaw out half a big one.
The rule of thumb when freezing is to try and take as much air out of the Ziploc bag as possible (to avoid freezer burn) and to label the bag both with what’s in it, including the date.
7. Make turkey stock or soup.
Remember turkey is poultry, so most things you can do with chicken you can do with turkey. This step is for after you have cleaned the majority of the turkey off the bones. If you have a stock pot large enough to fit the whole turkey carcass, then you are set. If not, cut the carcass into pieces that will fit into your pot.
First make the broth. Cover the carcass with cold water: feel free to add seasonings to your taste like onion, carrot, salt, thyme, bay leaf and pepper. Put all the ingredients in the pot then bring to a boil and let boil until the flavours have blended (at least 4 hours). Now strain broth and discard carcass and other seasonings from the pot.
To make your soup, sauté veggies you want in some oil or butter, add turkey chunks, rice or noodles and cover with the broth you made. Soup also freezes relatively well. It can be frozen easily into individual serving sizes by pouring it into Ziploc bags, laying it on a cookie sheet and putting it in the freezer (that way it freezes flat). You can remove it from the cookie sheet once it is frozen and store it either upright or laying down in the freezer.
Now that you’ve thoroughly dined out on turkey and turkey leftovers – you deserve a nap. You can blame it on the tryptophan in the turkey, or just admit that it feels good now that you’ve gotten rid of your turkey leftovers while using them to their best potential. I’m sure you’re planning ahead to the next family holiday and just thinking of what size turkey you’ll need. You’re likely meticulously calculating how many pounds will be just the right amount, then adding a few because hey – who doesn’t like some turkey leftovers?