Can anyone ever have too many recipes for using up leftovers after Thanksgiving? I don’t think so. I’m one of those “cook once, eat twice” folks, and never is it more of a thrill than when I cook for Thanksgiving. This is my excuse to fill the freezer and refrigerator with food to feed the family for about the next decade.
Yes, I end up with heaps of leftover turkey and countless containers of potatoes and vegetables. And, we must never forget the turkey frame, which is where this story begins.
While the family gathers in the kitchen to clean up, I sit down with a cup of coffee and the turkey frame (or carcass) and set to work getting the meat separated from the bones. This work goes fast with just a fork and a small knife. Once all the turkey meat is dispatched into good freezer containers, the turkey frame goes into a large plastic bag and I put it in the refrigerator.
The next day, I begin the process of making turkey stock. I’d like to share a very simple method for making stock from your Thanksgiving Day turkey frame:
- 1 turkey carcass
- 2 medium onions, cut in quarters
- 3 ribs celery, cut up
- 1 medium carrot, cut up
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Put the turkey carcass in a large stock pot with everything else and cover with plenty of fresh, cold water, up to about 2 inches below the lip of the pot. Turn the burner to medium heat and allow the stock to come to a simmer, turn the heat down to low to simmer everything for 3 to 4 hours. Keep the lid loosely propped on the pot.
During the first 30 minutes skim any foamy buildup from the top with a large spoon. The more you skim, the better your final stock will be.
After cooking, strain it into another pot and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, gently skim the fat off if you like with a slotted spoon and throw the fat away.
Once you have your turkey stock made, you’ve got the beginnings for a lot of recipes for leftovers. Here’s a few links to some of my favorite recipes for using up your turkey in delicious dishes:
And, when you’re faced with piles of mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, and gravy as well as turkey, here’s a simple solution. Make a layered casserole, sort of like a Shepherd’s Pie. I take a 9 x 13 baking dish, spray it with a little cooking oil, then make these layers, in this order:
- green beans
- diced turkey meat
- mashed potatoes
Dot butter on top, cover, and put in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Then uncover and let bake about 10 more minutes or until potatoes brown a bit on top.
Not ready for a “Thanksgiving in a Pan” meal just yet? Arrange the dish and cover it real good, then stick it in the freezer. Cook it when you get hungry for the flavors of Thanksgiving once again.
I hope this gives you a few ideas for using up your own Thanksgiving leftovers. I know our family is very thankful for our leftovers for months and months!
Susanne – The Hillbilly Housewife