Making the Most of Leftover Turkey

Thanksgiving buffet

I can’t wait to pick up my fresh pasture raised turkey from RC Organics tomorrow!  Last year Thanksgiving was amazing and my organic turkey was moist and tender and delicious.  However, you could argue that leftover turkey is the best part of a Thanksgiving meal—you get to enjoy the bird without having to do any cooking. If you’re feeling especially thrifty, you can pull all of the meat away from the bone and then simmer the bones into a rich, hearty broth that you can either use right away (mmm…turkey chili…) or freeze for later dishes. Breast meat tends to be a bit on the dry side, but fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use leftover turkey even if it is little dry. Dark meat is usually more moist and flavorful and lends itself to a wide variety of post-Thanksgiving turkey treats.

Soups & Stews: If your turkey is on the dry side, shred your leftovers and use them in dishes like chili, pozole, and turkey noodle soup. (To keep the Thanksgiving flair going, instead of noodles, stir wild rice into the latter. Wild rice is also more flavorful and has a lower glycemic impact than noodles do, plus it’s gluten-free.)

Hearty Salads: Roasted veggies + leftover turkey makes a delicious and simple meal. Top your hearty salad with toasted nuts and seeds, some fresh cranberries, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. If your turkey is on the dry side, toss with some cream, too.

Serve with Squash: Instead of always having potatoes with turkey, you can opt for less-starchy squash. (This is also a good game plan for Thanksgiving.) Pairing leftover turkey with roasted or simmered butternut, acorn, buttercup, or any other winter squash will give you a whole new meal. You could even try making Turkey Tetrazzini with spaghetti squash in place of noodles!

Turkey Boats: Chop your leftover turkey, then toss with homemade Ranch dressing (sour cream, a squirt of lemon juice, chives, parsley, a small clove of garlic [chopped], and enough buttermilk to thin to your desired consistency) and tuck it into Romaine leaves. If you’re hosting a post-Thanksgiving Day party and want to serve some easy apps, make mini boats out of endives.

Turkey Sandwiches/Wraps: The easiest way to use leftover turkey is to make sandwiches or wraps—just add a few slices of your favorite cheese, some thinly sliced onion, a dab of mustard, and perhaps some sliced avocado if your turkey is on the dry side. You could also layer on some mascarpone or crème fraîche to add a velvety richness. Soft cheeses like Brie and feta are also excellent partners for turkey that may be a bit dry.

Turkey Nachos: Go easy on the chips and heavy on the turkey! While you’re at it, add white beans, salsa, cheese, and of course sour cream. Everybody loves nachos and everybody loves turkey, so why not combine them?

Stuffed Peppers: Instead of using ground beef and regular rice, make your favorite stuffed peppers with shredded turkey and wild rice. Add Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram) and a generous topping of Parmesan to add a Mediterranean vibe to your leftover turkey.

Stir-Frys & Curries: Chicken finds its way into lots of stir-frys, and wherever chicken goes, turkey can, too, whether you’re making an Asian-themed stir-fry or simmering veggies with coconut milk and spices to make a curry. Either way, just throw in your already cooked turkey a few minutes before you want dinner to be on the table, and you’ll have a hearty, easy meal.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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