What About Those Leftovers?

So, Thanksgiving dinner is over, and there’s tons of leftovers.  What to do with them? Some people go to great lengths to re-purpose leftovers, but honestly, we mostly just eat them as-is. Most of what I make just gets better the more you reheat it, with the possible exception of potatoes and turkey. Which is what gravy is for.

We do, however, have enough turkey meat left that it would probably go bad before we’d get to it all. So, when I pick the carcasses clean for stock, I separate the meat into three piles: “eat as-is, preferably as open-faced sandwiches,” “make into lunch meat or soup,” and “cats.” That last backs is largely for the giblets, which were roasted along with the turkey  because they add fantastic flavor to gravy. One of my cats won’t touch anything not tuna or kibble, but the other loves anything poultry, including hearts and livers. So, these will get ground up and given to her as cat food. She’s getting on in years, and the nutrient-dense food is good for her (especially for her coat, she gets dry skin easily in winter).

The “eat as-is” bag gets as much meat as I estimate we can and will eat before it goes bad. The rest goes into the remaining “lunch meat or soup” bag. I was raised by grandparents who knew how to make the most of their money, especially food. They were from an era where cooking was fairly time-consuming, food was expensive, and you didn’t waste anything. A lot of the leftover meat we had (we lived on a farm, so we were lucky and always had excellent and fairly plentiful meat–especially chicken–and fresh eggs, milk, and produce) went through the meat grinder and was turned into sandwich spread. That meat grinder has since been passed down to me, and I’ll do the same thing. This weekend, I’ll grind up a good portion of our turkey with some homemade pickles and spices, and dole it out into appropriate portions to be frozen. Whenever we need lunch meat, we can pull it out, add homemade may, mustard, or whatever, and voila! Great, nutritious, lunch spread with little sodium and no hormones, etc.

Any stuffing we don’t eat will get put into portions to be eaten later with other meals, as will the cranberry sauce (which I have almost made myself sick on…it’s so good I just can’t stop eating it). The rest was made in a quantity that we’ll be able to eat before it goes bad. The carcass is already in the pot simmering for stock, which will get frozen for later use in soup.

I could do elaborate casseroles or weird sandwiches with our leftovers, but I just don’t see the need. This is easier, uses everything, and means 1-2 more nights of not having to cook dinner!

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3 responses to “What About Those Leftovers?

  • Tina

    Amen to that! I love another night or two of turkey dinner! My roasted garlic mashed potatoes reheat beautifully, but I use redskins or Yukons instead of russets, so maybe that has something to do with it. Loved your Turkey Day play-by-play, sounds like a fabulous time!

  • transplantednorth

    those are very creative uses for turkey leftovers. I stop short of my turkey carcass soup, but I make it every year. I even take home the turkey carcass from my parents or in-laws when Im away.

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