A New Life For Your Holiday Leftovers

There is indeed such a thing as "too much on your plate", and "too much too soon", and oddly enough, "too much information", but it might just be impossible to have too much turkey on your Thanksgiving table. In fact, I always make sure to buy a much larger bird than my family has need for, and here's why:

Every year, during the holiday season, my food budget gets stretched so thin, you can see through it!

First, there's the appetizers; usually a raw vegetable platter consisting of broccoli, carrots, celery, aside a plate of pepperoni, pickles, and cheese. Then there's veggie accessories; blue cheese and ranch dressings, and maybe a french onion dip.

The main course, of course, is the big bird, and it's typical American Norman Rockwell side dishes. Sometimes they are traditional, and sometimes gently tweaked to make it our own. We might even serve a baked pasta because.. well... lasagna.

Then we finish it off with an variety of desserts; various fruit pies, cookies, and chocolate (in any one of it's glorious forms).

Let's talk about beverages;  cold sweetened green tea, home brewed, and an assortment of colas that I oddly enjoy, even though I firmly protest the consuming of colas. If we are having guests, we would also include something alcoholic that can be mixed with said colas. Best of all, a choice of french roasted coffee or a cup of Folgers Gourmet Caramel Drizzle (it's what regular coffee hopes to be when it goes to Heaven).

Man, it's a good thing I bought that extra large turkey, because we're going to be eating leftovers all the next week, or longer, and isn't that what this post is all about?

Most of the leftovers are devoured the following day through simple leftover dinner plates and a few, of what has come to be known as, Ross's Thanksgiving Sandwiches. After that, things get interesting.

What To Do With All That Leftover Turkey

First pick the living hell out of that turkey carcass. That reminds me... you should remind me to tell you a funny story about a turkey carcass. Turn that sucker upside down and inside out and remove every edible chunk of meat that there is. It's a good idea to separate the turkey meat into zipper lock bags or plastic storage containers, according to the meals you tend to make during the week, and pop them in the freezer for when you need them.

Now, boil the living hell out of that turkey carcass. Boil it until the bones are bare. You can even break a few in half and let the marrow boil right into your broth. Strain out all of the "stuff" and let your broth sit and cool. In the meantime, sort through all that "stuff" and separate any good usable meat from the bones, fat, and gristle. When your broth is completely cool, pour it into a covered container, and put it into the fridge. After a few hours, you can go back into it and scoop off much of the fat that has congealed on the top. Save the broth in the freezer.

BBQ Turkey Sandwiches : Thaw one or two of your zipper lock bags of frozen turkey. Simmer it in a pan of your favorite barbecue sauce. Add a little bit of water to make it just slightly more fluid. Throw in some chopped onion and a squirt of pickle relish, and slowly simmer uncovered until it thickens. Serve on burger buns, or sub rolls! 

Turkey Soup : Simmer up that broth you make while boiling up your carcass, or your turkey's carcass rather. Season it up with garlic and onion powers, salt, pepper, sage (I use lots of sage!), rosemary, thyme, basil (I use lots of basil!), add one of your frozen zip lock bags of turkey (I don't even both to thaw it). Add your veggies. I usually toss in a medium sized bag of a frozen mix (carrots, corn, peas, and green beans). If you'd like, then a few minutes before you're ready to serve, you can add some rice or noodles.

Turkey Alfredo : Thaw out one of your zipper bags of frozen turkey. Warm it up in a skillet with a dash of oil. Add veggies. It can be a bag of frozen Chinese stir fry veggies, or your own fresh chopped carrots, broccoli, onion, and red pepper. Add some butter for more moisture, if necessary. Add a jar of your favorite Alfredo, or Parmesan sauce. Serve over, or tossed with thin spaghetti noodles, or fettuccine.

Turkey Salad Sandwiches : Thaw out a zipper bag of frozen turkey or two. I like to shred and chop mine in the processor (or blender). Then add mayo, chopped onion and celery, a squirt of pickle relish, and some seasonings (sage, salt, pepper, basil, parsley, garlic powder and such.

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