Friday, November 27, 2009

What to Do With Leftover Turkey

This following was originally posted 11-28-08. We are on the road visiting with relatives this Thanksgiving, so I have no leftovers this year, but I'll be cooking a turkey at Christmas time and using it up in all of these ways. Happy leftovers to you and yours!

After two days of it, is your family started to grimace at the "T" word? Are you sick of the thought of another turkey sandwich? Or turkey soup? Or turkey whatever? The internet abounds today with recipes of things you can do with leftover turkey. Some of them sound good, some of them sound bizarre.

First of all, realize this. Pretty much anything you can make with boiled or pre-cooked chicken, you can make with turkey. Chicken salad, chicken & dumplings, chicken & rice, chicken alfredo--all of these can be made with leftover turkey as a substitute for chicken.

But let me give you some advice. If you cooked enough turkey for an army, and after two days you still have turkey left, you can do the frugal thing without having turkey-ten-ways-for-ten-days-after-Thanksgiving. What you do is this: take it off the bone, bag it up, and freeze it. Bring it out later in a dish you usually make with chicken. Don't tell them it's ghost-of-holidays-past turkey. Just let them assume it's chicken.

Not long ago I did this when chicken was on sale. I bought a big pack of chicken leg quarters, then went ahead and boiled all of them at once in two big pots, then sat and removed the skin and took the meat off the bone. I divided it all up in meal-sized bags and froze them, then I had pre-cooked chicken ready for a quick and simple homecooked pot of chicken and rice, chicken alfredo, and chicken and dumplings. Boiling and de-boning the whole bag of chicken doesn't take that much longer than doing just a few pieces, and I only have the mess and clean-up once instead of every time I want to cook something that requires boiling chicken. It's an easy way to have "homemade" convenience food.

Leftover turkey can be done the same way, and is just as good in these kinds of dishes.

Do you have an all-but-unrecognizable turkey carcass with bits of meat left on it? Put it in a stock pot, cover with water, throw in some celery and onion or whatever you have on hand, add some chicken bouillon or chicken stock paste, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for a while. Once the carcass is boiled, any little bits left clinging to it should fall right off. The resulting stock can be strained and used now, or also frozen to used later, just like chicken stock.

What do you do after that? Or what if you have just a little turkey left, not enough to really bag and keep?

Here's the secret. Take a deep breath; let it out; and then--throw it away.

Did you get that? You've gotten your money's worth. Your family's sick of it. You've done well, grasshopper. It's time to move on. Give it a rest. Throw it away.

Happy "uncooking", until next time...


  1. We had a big turkey this year and a lot of people to eat it so not much left over. Today though I'm like you I'm going to stick it in something like I would turkey and turkey pot pie or turkey dumplings both sound good.

  2. For once we had the perfect sized turkey! Just enough leftovers for a sandwich or two and a pot pie! But I'm all for bagging up the leftovers and using them later!


  3. I make turkey enchiladas. They freeze well!