Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope it was wonderful, that you over ate and were surrounded by loved ones (even if they’re annoying.) And I hope you had help with the dishes.
please bear with me as I update this post with new clickable icons.
If you’re like me, family & friends are the best part of any holiday, but the leftovers come a close second. Leveraging those Thanksgiving leftovers into more great meals is one the most frugal things you can do. If you have a freezer (and you should) pick up more turkeys at rock bottom prices; its one of the cheapest proteins you’ll find. (All of this applies to chicken, too.) If you had ham, see my 12 Days of Ham post.
First of all, remember the two-hour window for leaving food out at room temperature. Break the turkey down and refrigerate it as soon as possible. I find it’s always hectic, messy, and I’m tired after a big feast, but treat that food right and you’ll never have any doubt about food safety.
As For the Turkey:
Big old turkeys usually don’t fare well in the fridge: turkeys are hard to wrap and it’s hard to find room. If you’ve accomplished both, the turkey gets pulled out, nibbled from, rewrapped (probably poorly) and shoved back in to dry and shrivel. Sometimes by the time someone deals with it, it’s to take it out, & dump it in the trash.
Take the time to break that turkey down right away, and at the very least slice off the slice off the breast meat and wrap or put in Ziplocs for sandwiches or casseroles and do the same with the legs & thighs,
If you’re making turkey soup, think about getting it started while you’re doing the clean up, or wrap the carcass well. To make it easier, prep all the soup ingredients ahead of the holiday – carrots, onions, celery can all be in a large Ziploc waiting to go, and if you’re smart, that can include a lot of the potential waste from all the Thanksgiving preparations. Celery tops, onion skins, carrot peelings, etc.
After a couple days in the fridge, turkey can dry and taste gamey. Assess what you have in the way of leftovers (the same day or the next) and portion out for sandwiches and recipes, label and stash back in the fridge or freezer. Cooked turkey won’t last long in the freezer; maybe a couple of weeks before it gets dry. The freezer will buy you some time, though, so you don’t literally have to literally eat turkey for 12 days!
Here’s a few recipes we love to use those turkey (or chicken) leftovers in; I hope you’ll find a recipe or two that you and your family will love, too.
chicken or turkey soups
chicken or turkey chilis & chowders
poultry (chicken or turkey)
Light Hot Browns: Another great way to take advantage of any leftover Turkey or Ham, Hot Browns are layered with meat, a little bacon and vegetables and blanketed with a Cheese Sauce.
Hot Broiled Sandwiches: A fun way to rework leftovers from a Thanksgiving Turkey or a Holiday Ham. Raid your fridge and layer ingredients on a an open-faced sandwich,
Turkey Pizza? You Betcha: This Pizza uses Tyler Florence’s pizza dough and his method of throwing the dough on a preheated pan – no soggy bottom, but a beautifully crispy crunch.
Turkey or Chicken Newburg: This is a perfect dish to throw together from leftovers. Classically made with mushrooms and peas, feel free to use what’s on hand.
Use the tag for leftover turkey for more great recipes.