While I always loved having turkey with my family each year, I dreaded the days that followed. It is my firm belief that the reason turkey is primarily consumed at only three times of year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) is that the thought of more than three weeks of turkey leftovers per year turns the average American’s stomach. It doesn’t have to be this way though! One of the primary reasons turkey leftovers get boring is because you end up eating the same meal every day for a week. Trying a few of the following recipes will use up your leftovers, and give your palate a kick.
Photo by rexipe via Flickr
The Beloved Turkey Sandwich
The usual problem with the turkey sandwich is it can be plain and dry by day 2, let alone day 5. The best thing to do is jazz it up. Take a cue from Capriotti’s Bobbie, which is layered with pulled roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. I like my turkey sandwich with layers of cranberry sauce and cream cheese for moisture and taste.
Sautee some onions and peppers with chili powder, mix in some white meat to reheat, and serve with cheese tortillas and sour cream for a completely new meal.
If you start with a standard red bean chili, either made from scratch or a can, shred in some dark turkey meat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. It’s easy to layer over stuffing or mashed potatoes, and is excellent with all of your standard chili toppings.
Turkey Pot Pie/Shepherd’s Pie
This is especially easy if you have leftover pie crust or mashed potatoes. Fill the pie with turkey, vegetables, gravy and maybe cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup, depending on your taste. This meal can be baked immediately or frozen for later. The shepherd’s pie is the exact same ingredients, but without pie crust. Instead, you put a layer of mashed potatoes and cheese across the top.
With chicken or vegetable broth, some chopped up veggies and leftover turkey, you can make a “turkey” soup in no time.
Sweet Potato Frycakes
Blend your leftover sweet potatoes in a mixer with a little bit of flour and egg. When you have a batter like consistency, fry them up in a sautee pan. You can always top with a little bit of melted marshmallow or pepper jelly for a great kick.
Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls
If you have leftover crescent roll dough, roll it with lunch meat and cheese before you bake it. After they’re cooked, they’re great for any meal, hot or cold.
A Note on Storage
Don’t settle for dry turkey! Now if the turkey started out dry, there isn’t a lot you can do to help. However, to preserve your moist turkey for the days to come, I recommend investing in some sort of food vaccuum system. It doesn’t have to be expensive; Foodsaver now makes an excellent handheld unit, that pays for itself rather quickly if you buy in bulk. Basting your turkey with leftover broth, au jus, or gravy before it goes into the vaccuum can preserve taste and moisture.
The truth is, turkey can substitute for poultry in many of your standard recipes. The unending week of repeat turkey dinners is usually a result of our Triptophan induced lack of imagination. As long as you keep it moist, it can wait in your freezer for you to be ready to enjoy, not forcing an entire week of the same meal upon you.