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Tips for Turkey Leftovers

The feast was wonderful, but now what to do with all of the leftovers? Here are some tips and thoughts for using them up without feeling like you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner over and over again.

First things first:

Turkey leftovers will stay good refrigerated for a few days, and for one to two months in the freezer. If turkey leftovers are in the fridge be sure to properly store them in airtight containers or wrap them in plastic wrap or tinfoil.  Store them in the coolest part of the fridge, which tends to be the meat drawer. Remove all meat from the turkey. Drumsticks can stay on the bone, but the rest of the meat should be removed. If the turkey was stuffed, do not store any meat that has been in contact with stuffing. While potatoes or vegetables can also last several days in the fridge, stuffing that has been in the turkey should not be stored for more than one or two days and do not freeze it for later use. But as far turkey goes, consider freezing it for that cold night in January when you’re craving something warm and tasty but don’t feel like cooking.

Breakfast, anyone?

Stuffing and mashed potatoes or any kind of potatoes for that matter are great fried up for breakfast, just like hashed browns. Serve them up with eggs. Or melt some cheese on a tortilla and roll it up with turkey, eggs and hashed stuffing and potatoes and thrown in some hot sauce for a breakfast burrito.

Everyone wants a turkey sandwich.

The next best thing to eating Thanksgiving dinner is having a turkey sandwich the next day. How about a turkey melt?

Ingredients:

Turkey

Cranberry

Gruyere cheese slices

Sourdough bread

Olive oil

Optional: Arugula or spinach

Let’s keep this simple. Don’t get too caught up in the recipe with this one. You can sub any kind of cheese you desire—white cheddar, Colby jack, mozzarella, Swiss, provolone or manchego cheese are all good options. Likewise, feel free to use whatever bread you have on hand, French bread makes for good sandwiches, too. Once you’re ready to start, drizzle olive oil on the inner and outer sides of sourdough bread slices. Then on one side of the bread layer Gruyere cheese, turkey and cranberry, followed by another layer of Gruyere cheese. Place the second piece of bread on top.  Add arugula or spinach on the inside, too, if desired. Heat a skillet to medium. Place sandwich on the skillet, cook for approximately 3 minutes or until outside of bread turns a light brown and then flip and cook the other side until it is light brown and cheese appears to be melted. Remove from skillet, serve with more cranberry sauce if desired. Enjoy!

Turkey Stock.

Of course, a roasted turkey makes for good turkey stock. The roasted drumsticks will help to add flavor. So pull the slow cooker out and prepare this stock on a low simmer or cook it in a Dutch oven.

Ingredients:

1 gallon water or enough water to cover the turkey bones you are placing in the pot—drumsticks can be put in whole

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium-sized onion chopped

1 cup carrots chopped

1/2 cup celery diced (about 2 stalks)

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil on medium high heat add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until veggies are a bit tender. Add turkey and water. If you are using a slow cooker, you can cook veggies in a skillet and then transfer them to the slow cooker.

Once liquid is added, stir in seasonings. Feel free to add more than the recipe calls for. Bring liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3-plus hours. If you are placing in a slow cooker, you can even leave it simmering or on low over night. When there is about 10-12 cups of fluid left in the pot, run the broth through a strainer. Place in a closed-lid container in the fridge. Once broth chills, skim solidified fat off the surface. The broth can last 3 to 4 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer when stored in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag.

Tortilla Turkey Soup.

This simple soup is a yummy way to use up extra turkey.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 3-4 tablespoons

1 medium-sized onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

3.5 cups turkey broth (or chicken broth will work, too)

1 16-ounce  can refried beans

1 bay leaf

2 flour tortillas sliced into strips

1 14.5 ounce can organic corn

1-2 cups leftover turkey meat

1 avocado sliced

Salt

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute until tender. Stir in chili powder, cumin and oregano. Add tomatoes, turkey broth, beans, corn and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 45 minutes.

In a skillet heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil. Heat oil to medium high. Place tortilla strips in oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes until strips are light brown. Sprinkle salt on strips. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to remove excess oil.

Serve soup with tortilla strips, avocado slices and turkey. You can stir turkey into soup at the end of cooking time or preheat it separately and place on top of soup with avocado. Sprinkle cotija cheese on top if desired.

Other ways to use turkey leftovers:

  • Include turkey in the toppings of a pizza, along with some sliced peppers, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese
  • Wrap turkey into tacos, burritos or enchiladas
  • Make a homemade lasagna with turkey instead of ground beef
  • Add turkey to any salad
  • Heat things up by making Turkey Jambalaya
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