5 things to do with leftover turkey

turkeyExtend the Thanksgiving meal with these ideas

Many of us will be eating turkey in the coming days, maybe a lot of turkey.  Properly roasted Thanksgiving turkey is a joy (dried out or undercooked turkey is another story).  Leftover turkey — so different from the processed sliced turkey meat sold for sandwiches — can be delicious as is, but you can avoid turkey burnout by using the leftovers in more creative ways.

First step is to take care of the leftovers.  The best plan is to strip the leftover meat off the bones soon after dinner.  I know this is probably the last thing you want to be doing after a big meal, possibly late in the evening.  But putting the meat in the refrigerator is essential for food safety.  Plus you can then put the carcass in a big pot, cover with water and simmer for hours to make fabulous turkey stock, useful for all kinds of future uses.

Of course, the quickest way to use up leftover turkey is to serve is as leftovers, with heated gravy and stuffing.  But if you’re tired of that after one meal, try something different.

5 Easy Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

  1. Turkey Molé: If you’ve never tried molé sauce, common in Mexican cuisine, leftover turkey is a great reason to start.  Molé comes in many varieties, characterized by rich chile flavors, enhanced with ground nuts, cocoa, tomato and other spices.  The rich flavor pairs well with white meat turkey.  If you’re adventurous and handy in the kitchen, there are plenty of molé recipes online.  You can also fine pre-made sauce in many grocery stores or specialty food stores.

2. Turkey Soup: This is a great way to use up dark meat.  And a great way to take advantage of that rich flavorful turkey stock you made.  You don’t need a recipe.  The basic ingredients are

  • a cooked grain such as barley or brown rice (pre-cooked)
  • sautéed vegetables, including onion, celery, carrots and garlic
  • additional vegetables like canned tomatoes, greens (spinach, chard), cut green beans and kernel corn
  • chunked up turkey meat, especially dark meat.
  • herbs like thyme and oregano, plus salt and pepper to taste

You can make it as thick or soupy as you like, by adding more or less of grains or additional vegetables.

3. Turkey Cobb Salad: mix together turkey meat, chopped avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced scallions, chopped romaine lettuce and other vegetables of choice such as radishes, broccoli, cucumbers and sweet peppers.  Garnish with a small amount of blue cheese and or sliced hard boiled egg if desired and dress with a vinaigrette.

4. Turkey Wraps: Use slices of white meat turkey.  A flavored wrap, such as tomato basil works really well.  In addition to the turkey, add greens like arugula or spinach, chopped tomato, crumbled feta cheese or grated Jack or Mozzarella, diced cucumbers and sweet pepper or roasted green chiles. A dash or Buffalo sauce or Sriracha gives your wrap a zing.  Trying to save calories? Use a large lettuce leaf instead of a wrap.

5. Grilled Pesto Turkey Sandwich: Use a crusty bread, topped with thin slices of turkey, cheese and sliced red onion.  Garnish with pesto sauce.  Grill until done and slip some fresh vegetables — lettuce or spinach, sliced tomato — into the sandwich before serving.

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