Saturday, November 30, 2013

What to Do With The Leftover Turkey

Thanksgiving was two days ago and, unless you're a big fan of turkey salad, odds are good you're looking at a lot of leftovers that you may not have a taste for.
Be honest, we can only recycle the holiday meal so many times. Leftover turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry salad may be good once or twice, and most of us will only eat so many turkey sandwiches. Then there's all that darn dark meat. Do you know no one in my family ate any dark meat off the holiday bird? That's too much to waste.
You may be tempted to toss it, especially if you didn't go ahead and get it off the bones while it was warm. Trust me, warm and greasy beats cold and greasy hands down. But if you saved the meat with some vague plan of a future recipe, it's still crucial to do something with it before it becomes fit for only the garbage can. (No, don't feed it to the dog. You don't want to clean that up!)
Last year I was smart enough to freeze mine shortly after the holiday, but discovered when I pulled a bag out the other day that I hadn't planned ahead well enough. While my recipe called for 1.5 cups, I had at least two or three times that amount all froze together in a quart freezer bag. It was all or nothing and too much turkey ruined a pretty good soup recipe.
So my recommendation is find the recipes you'd like to eat -- not necessarily today or tomorrow's meals, but at some point -- and cut up the meat you don't eat by the time you get tired of it, and/or all the dark meat, and put it in freezer bags in the correct amounts. Since I didn't have room in my refrigerator for a bird, I did all that shortly after the family meal and I had 10 cups of dark meat to freeze. Most recipes call for 2 to 3 cups, so I did two 3-cup bags and two 2-cup bags.
If we don't polish off the white meat by the first of the week, I'll probably cut it up as well. I will not be boiling the bones for stock. I'm not that dedicated. My chickens enjoy the extra protein and it is funny in a twisted way to watch them peck the carcass clean.
Of course, saving the meat is only half the challenge, so I've gathered a few leftover recipes as well. You can also find plenty of others at cooking websites, with a simple search for leftover turkey recipes. If you're like me, it's always a little better if you know someone has actually prepared them, and I have cooked three out of four of these, although I don't have pictures to prove it.

My absolute favorite for going on 30 years has been a turkey casserole recipe that features cheese, Bisquick, soup and sour cream. You can make this as one dish, or divide it like pot pies, although I usually opt for the single dish preparation. I found it while doing a cooking feature at my first newspaper job and have been preparing it regularly since.
3 c cut up turkey
1/2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 c Bisquick
3/4 c milk
1 egg
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease casserole dish.
2. Combine and heat first four ingredients to boiling and spoon into casserole dish.
3. Combine Bisquick, milk and egg. Pour over hot turkey mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
4. Bake uncovered until top is set and slightly brown, about 20-25 minutes.

The soup recipe I ruined with too much turkey is usually great and is a crock pot recipe, so you can leave it to cook while you're busy. It's got a Mexican flavor influence with cumin and cayenne, so it's a good spicy meal served with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.
1 1/2 c turkey (2 c would be ok, but don't overdo it)
1 quart canned tomatoes
1 onion
1 T lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 can corn
4 c chicken broth
4 oz can green chili peppers
4 cloves garlic
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 can black beans
salt and pepper
Combine and cook all ingredients on low for 8 hours.

I haven't made this next recipe in years, but liked it enough to copy it onto a recipe card and save it.
1 sm pkg frozen broccoli, cooked
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 8 oz. bag bread crumb stuffing
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 c mayo
1 egg
2-3 c chopped, cooked turkey
Combine all ingredients reserving some stuffing for topping in casserole dish. Stir. Put remaining stuffing on top. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

This last one I have not tried, but found on a printout card from Bisquick and it sounds tasty and super easy.
2 c cut up, cooked turkey
1 small jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 c sliced green onions
1/2 t salt
1 c shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 c milk
3/4 c Bisquick
3 eggs
Heat oven to 400 and lightly grease 10-inch pie plate. Sprinkle turkey, mushrooms, onions, salt and cheese in pie plate. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour into pie plate. Bake until golden brown and knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

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