You paid good money (but hopefully not too much) for that Thanksgiving turkey. Do not let the leftovers go to waste. Turkey is not only a bargain (especially during pre-Thanksgiving sales), it’s tasty and good for you. And sometimes the leftovers are even better than the original meal.
First, buy more than one turkey when they’re on special. Double wrap the ones you intend to keep for a while. According to one commerical processor, a frozen commercially wrapped turkey should last up to a year in your freezer. To be extra sure, I add an additional layer of foil or other freezer wrap to ensure it doesn’t get freezer burn. Even the tiniest hole in the original wrapping can allow freezer burn.
If you can’t possibly eat all the leftover meat in four to five days (stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator), wrap individual portions well and freeze for up to four months (or six months, if stored in broth or gravy).
If you want to use those turkey leftovers now, here are some ideas:
Turkey soup is a traditional turkey leftover that requires removing most of the meat from the carcass and cooking the carcass in water or broth with a chunk of onion, a couple of carrots and celery stalks to make your stock. Strain and cool. Remove any fat. Discard bones and vegetables. Then chop fresh vegetables and add to simmering stock — onions, celery, carrots, whatever you like. Throw in some noodles the last 15-20 minutes for turkey noodle soup. If that’s too vague for you, try this recipe for Turkey Soup with Egg Noodles and Vegetables.
Also consider turkey pot pie. AllRecipes.com has several recipes for chicken pot pie online, but you can easily substitute turkey in any of them.
You can fill tortillas with leftover meat for turkey enchiladas or burritos; put the meat in a casserole; dress up turkey sandwiches with cranberries or a quick sauce; use the meat and leftover veggies in a chowder; and try some new and different takes on turkey with Food Network’s best Thanksgiving leftover recipes.
Some of the ideas are pretty wild. Fried stuffing balls or turkey egg rolls, anyone?
You will have so much fun with your turkey leftovers, you won’t want to wait till next Thanksgiving to make another turkey dinner. And if you took advantage of holiday sales, you’ll have one in the freezer just waiting for you.
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