Gobble It Up: What to do with leftover turkey

Consumer Reports News: November 25, 2009 12:09 AM

Not to get too far ahead of things—after all, you might still be planning for Thanksgiving or working on your menu, which might not be as expensive as last year's—but what are you going to do with the leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving feast? If you want to go beyond a boring turkey sandwich or played-out pot of soup, follow the advice of the Consumer Reports test-kitchen experts, whose tips first appeared in the December 2009 issue of ShopSmart magazine.

• Look for recipe ingredient clones. Use recipes with ingredients from your holiday-dinner courses. For example, a turkey pot pie will take care of some of the leftover bird and the vegetables from a premeal crudité platter. Use any remaining gravy for your sauce. As for the bottom or top of the pot pie, use frozen crusts you have on hand or pick them up at the supermarket.

• Wake up your palate. Invigorate your taste buds by adding spices like chili, cumin, or curry paste to leftovers. Try fajitas, turkey-and-cheese quesadillas, turkey chili, a Thai curry, turkey mole, or a southwestern turkey casserole.

• Boost the flavor of sandwiches. Instead of making another traditional sliced-turkey sandwich, cut the turkey into small chunks, add a little mayo, and toss in: some shredded carrot, a little Dijon mustard, and curry powder; or some herbs and celery slices; or hard-boiled eggs and walnut pieces; or dried cranberries, almond slices, and mandarin oranges; or chopped olives.

• Wait until you have a hankering for turkey. Instead of eating all the leftover turkey within a couple of days or throwing it out, cut some of it up into bite-sized pieces, divide it into the amounts you normally use in recipes, and store these portions in individual freezer bags. The next time you want to make a turkey-based dish—say turkey tetrazzini, turkey a la king, or turkey stuffed shells—thaw a bag and toss it in with the other ingredients for a quick meal. Stored properly, turkey will keep in your freezer up to four months.

For expert food-storage advice, download a PDF of "Keep It Fresh!" from the ShopSmart archives.

Essential information: If you plan to do some holiday shopping on Black Frida (November 27), stay on top of the deals and other news by reading Tightwad Tod on Our Money blog and visiting our Holiday Shopping Guide.

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