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How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Leftovers

by Jane Wangersky December 5th, 2013 | Cooking Basics
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meat pieIf you bought a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, and didn’t have a houseful of people to help eat it, you’ve got leftovers, even if everyone’s had turkey sandwiches for lunch all this week. They’re probably not just turkey, either. So what can you do with a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers — or any leftovers — that you’re getting tired of?

First, with a turkey or chicken, the meat should be taken off the bones. This is boring and messy, but in the end you’ve got some bones you can simmer in water to make broth, and some ready-cooked meat that’ll come in handy some busy night. (If you can’t bring yourself to believe that, put the meat in the freezer — in small portions — until you’re glad you saved it.)

When you’re using leftover meat, remember it’s probably dried out a little. It’s not going to be enough to reheat it, you’re going to need to moisten it (as you put mayonnaise, or maybe cranberry sauce, on those turkey sandwiches). Leftover gravy can be great for this. If there’s no leftover gravy, make more with the turkey broth you’ve just made with the bones. Or make some white sauce. Heat the sauce or gravy to a simmer, add the leftover meat carefully, and keep it all on low for a few minutes — you’ll have to taste some to see if it’s ready. When it is, serve it over bread, pasta, or rice.

Got leftover mashed potatoes? Try spreading them on top of your turkey-gravy mixture, above, and baking the whole thing (as long as the pan’s completely ovenproof) in a 350 F oven for about 15 minutes. To brown the potato top crust, slide the dish under the broiler for a few minutes, but keep checking on  it.

If there’s any unbaked pie dough left over from baking your pumpkin pie, roll that out and use it as the crust, but bake it longer — about as long as you’d bake a pie. Let the readiness of the crust be your guide. If you’re out of potatoes and pie crust, mix up a batch of fresh biscuit dough for the top crust.  Bake the dish as long as the recipe says to bake the biscuits — a few minutes longer if you keep it in one piece.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, make turkey crepes, or a turkey meatloaf — there are plenty of online recipes.

You actually can enjoy eating the rest of your turkey — just give it time, a little creativity, and a few fresh ingredients to bring it back to life.

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