It always seems like a great idea to have pounds of leftover turkey before Thanksgiving.
But when the relatives have said their goodbyes, and everyone’s back home from Black Friday shopping, you’re still left with a refrigerator full of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy.
After the food-induced coma from Thanksgiving dinner, you might never want to look at those leftovers again.
But with a little twist on preparation, your leftovers can be a whole new meal, or two — or three, or four.
If you’ve still got a few relatives to feed the morning after, cook up a Western hash, throwing in some stuffing, potatoes, chilis, and turkey with some eggs.
“You can really get rid of that stuff,” according to College of the Canyons Culinary Arts Chef Instructor Daniel Otto.
Leftover sweet potatoes can make for a great sweet potato hash as well — just add in some Italian sausage and eggs, and sauté in a pan.
For lunch, it’s “adult grilled cheese:” thin sliced turkey, brie, arugula, with a cranberry pesto, all cooked on lightly buttered sourdough.
Skip the cheese and add bacon for a turkey BLT. You can keep the pesto, or make a cranberry mayo, with two parts mayo to one part cranberry sauce. Make sure to strain cranberry sauce before adding it to the mayo if it seems to watery — most canned cranberry sauces will need straining.
If after a feast on Thanksgiving, you’re looking for something a little healthier, try a turkey Bolognese with spaghetti squash.
Turkey tacos are another option – just swap out your usual protein of choice for dark turkey meat. Breast meat works too, Otto said, but is usually drier.
A shepherd’s pie is a great way to use almost all your leftovers at once. Adventurous chefs can make a stuffing crust, and sauté carrots, turnips, onions and potatoes for the filling. Add mashed potatoes on top, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes for perfectly cooked pie.
The stuffing can be the hardest Thanksgiving leftover to “resurrect” according to Otto. If you want to breathe some life back into soggy stuffing, drop it into a pan with a little butter and sauté for a few minutes to get it crispy and flavorful again. Stuffing also makes great croutons: mush the stuffing down into a baking pan and bake.
“You can utilize every little thing about it,” Otto said.
The key to leftovers is proper storage.
Otto recommends getting your Thanksgiving meal onto plates and packed away as soon as possible. Leftovers, once properly prepared and stored, can last four or five days – but storage is key. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap, or in quality plastic storage containers to ensure their maximum longevity.