We grew our own turkeys this year, and the one thing you really can’t do when you grow your own, is pick your own size of Thanksgiving Turkey. You can choose between Monstrous and not so monstrous but in the end you are likely going to end up with more turkey than you anticipated. This has been our dilemma this year. We only have 3 of us in our family so we can only eat so much turkey in the few days after the holiday.
Not one to let things go to waste, it is ultimately my goal to make sure most if not all of the turkey we raised for the past 4 months is used.
For me the Math is simple….. 4 days of eating as much turkey as we can possibly eat (which means lots of recipes) , on the 4th day – that being today, it is time for the rest of the turkey to head to the freezer. That means I must also find something to do with the carcass which invariable has far too much meat on it to just waste.
There are essentially 3 choices left for this seemingly vacant carcass when we get to this point. If I am out of time, the carcass goes into the freezer and gets pulled out later to make stock or soup. I have also been known to make stock out of it, this is really easy and while time consuming, and it can be done in stages to make it easier. More about that later.
There are plenty of soups that can be made from the turkey carcass as well and these can also be frozen to be eaten later. I like doing this, it is easy, and it makes a meal for a night when I do not have a lot of time. There is plenty of turkey stock when doing this, so you make more than one batch of soup if you want.
Meals in the Meantime
There are more than enough meals and ideas out there for using up thanksgiving leftovers so I am going to leave you with only a couple of my simplest and most favorite ideas. I do not have pictures for these today, but they are very easy to make. The first recipes will use up your extra stuffing and gravy and it is one of my favorites.
Turkey Stuffing Bake
6-8 thick slices of turkey breast (or the equivalent, enough turkey to cover the bottom of the pan)
1 – 2 cups Turkey gravy
- This recipe could not be simpler, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put your turkey in a large baking pan lightly sprayed with cooking oil( can also use a small square pan depending on the number of leftovers you have.)
- Pour gravy over the top of the turkey so it is covered.
- Layer leftover stuffing on top and then bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until heated all the way through.
Turkey Cheddar Soup
This is always a favorite in our house, and like the recipe above I really do not have a recipe for it, but I have been making it for years and it always turns out good!
1 half onion chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
Two potatoes cubed
2 tablespoons oil
¼ flour (substitute half and half cornstarch and rice flour to make this recipe gluten free)
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 cups of Milk
2 cups of Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups of turkey
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Sauté onion and celery in oil until soft, add a bit more oil to the pan if needed if the pan looks to dry.
- Add in just enough flour to coat the vegetables (this may use all of the ¼ flour and may not) , and let cook for a minute longer, then add the turkey broth, stir until the flour is well incorporated into the broth.
- Add cubed potatoes bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, approximately 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom of the pan from scorching.
- Add cut up turkey and heat until the turkey is hot.
- Add milk and seasonings to the soup and cook until steaming, the milk should not come to a boil. Stir it very frequently, even constantly to ensure that the milk does not scorch.
- Remove from the burner and let sit for about 2-4 minutes, then add the shredded cheese and stir until smooth. Serve.
Other ideas for Your Turkey
There are plenty of sites out there with left over ideas, here are just a few to get you started. Pinterest is also a great place to go for recipes for leftover turkey.
Finally Turkey Stock …
Turkey Carcass, Bones etc (these can be cut down to size is you do not have a big stock pot
2 Large onions
3-4 large carrots
4 to 5 stalks of Celery
2-3 sprigs of Rosemary
Thyme, sage and Parsley
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
Salt and peppercorns to taste (optional)
NOTE: This is a good time to use up any leftover vegetables you might have from Thanksgiving as well. Simply toss them in the pot and they will add even more flavor to your turkey broth.
- Add all of the ingredients into your stockpot ( only adding as much salt and pepper as you want to your stock), and cook until the connective tissues on the carcass have broken down and the carcass falls apart easily. This is important because it means that all of the tasty marrow and connective tissues will have added their flavor to your turkey stock.
- Strain the turkey broth through cheese cloth or a fine mesh sieve, gently pressing out any remaining juices. Let stock sit to cool and then strain one more time.
- Turkey stock can be frozen or canned and will last in the fridge up to 7 days. I put my leftover meat in the freezer and then use the stock and meat to make more meals such as my cheddar turkey soup when I am ready to.