Talk Turkey to Me!
November 20, 2021 2:41 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite and/or most interesting recipes (or general ideas) for leftover turkey?

For the second US Thanksgiving in a row, I am doing a small Thanksgiving for just me and the boyfriend. Last year, I was responsible and did a small dinner for two with duck breasts, but this year I want the turkey and the leftovers.

But the smallest turkey I could find is just shy of 11 lbs, so that will be a lot of leftovers. I do like a turkey sandwich and will get a loaf of really good sandwich bread, but I'm going to need some other options.

I'm leaning toward soup and enchiladas, without specific recipes in mind, so feel free to share those if you have them. But I'm open to all ideas!

I thought there would be a million previouslies on Thanksgiving leftovers, but I only found this one and this one on turkey, plus this one on cranberries. Perhaps I'm bad at search terms though, so if I missed some good resources from the ghosts of askme past, I will gladly accept pointers in that direction as well.

I'm probably just making cranberry relish, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and a simple green vegetable for sides, but if your idea requires leftovers of another side, I am willing to consider expanding that menu.

(Bonus Can I Eat it? - I bought a fresh turkey from a local farm at my hippie grocery store that just got stocked yesterday, has a use or freeze by date of 11/27, and seems to have a good vacuum seal. I plan to dry brine it on Tuesday. The USDA seems to think it's only good in the fridge for about 48 hours, but that's crazy talk right? I don't have to freeze my nice fresh young turkey between now and the dry brine?)

Thanks and happy feasting!
posted by the primroses were over to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Our family loves Turkey curry. It's an English style
posted by Ftsqg at 3:47 PM on November 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sliced white bread, toasted. Spread one or both slices with mayo. Build up a layer of shredded turkey (or chicken, if not the holidays). Add sliced tomatoes, if possible. Top with the other slice, cut your sandwich in half, on the diagonal, and serve!
posted by Rash at 3:53 PM on November 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: When your sandwich bread gets stale, I like turkey with French toast. Maybe some cranberry sauce too.
posted by february at 4:09 PM on November 20, 2021

Our favourites:
1. Thanksgiving redux. Exactly the same way as it was served the first time.
2. Turkey pot pie - with carrots, celery, onion, thyme, green beans, and golden mushroom condensed soup. (This is one time I think the canned soup works better than a home made white sauce.)
3. Enchiladas - use the dark meat, shred it with a fork. Heat in your favorite salsa, we use salsa Verde. Make enchiladas the usual way.

Bonus tip: I never liked the way leftover turkey tasted after freezing, until I figured out to freeze the meat in a liquid. Now I cube 2 cups of white meat, pour turkey stock to cover, and freeze for a future pie. And shred some dark meat, cover with salsa Verde, freeze for future enchiladas.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:48 PM on November 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Soup and sandwiches are my favorite. Stock and soup uses the carcass, any raw veg lying around, gravy, and turkey and is good for days.

Make turkey stock Thanksgiving night with the carcass covered with water and optionally some celery carrot onion parsley you have sitting around, simmer for 2 or so hours, strain, refrigerate in soup pot. If you don't want a lot of stock, don't add too much water, the stock will be richer.

Make stock into soup by simmering with carrot and celery slices until softened. 15 or so minutes before serving add raw rice and simmer until rice is done. Add less rice than you think, it expands in the leftover soup. Add any extra gravy you don't want to the soup. Add as much of the leftover turkey as you want. Vary the leftovers by adding leftover veg when you reheat a serving or two or even stir in a scoop of mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving freezes very well - make individual containers of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and veg (sweet potatoes, squash, green beans). Freeze. Thaw. Reheat in microwave on 50% power. Do not overheat. Freeze and serve cranberry sauce that was separately in serving sizes.

Turkey Salad
Like chicken salad - leftover turkey chopped with chopped celery, a tiny bit of chopped onion, a grate of carrot, mayo, a splash of vinegar and a dab of mustard - good alone or as a sandwich. Optional- curry powder.

Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Layer turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veg, gravy in a pie or smaller casserole dish(es), cover with mashed potatoes and as much butter slices as sound good. When ready to eat, bake until heated through (check with a knife inserted into center, when the knife is hot, the food is hot), turn up the heat to brown the top of the potatoes (or use the broiler). Serve with extra gravy. This can be frozen.
posted by RoadScholar at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have not yet tried it myself, though I'm looking forward to it: sliced/chunks/shreds of turkey; stuffing; cranberry sauce; and a cranberry dressing, a little of all of it on a tortilla/fajita/flat bread, then folded up.

I had this once in a restaurant and loved it - Thanksgiving burrito! Thanksgiving wrap! (or whatever you want to call it). It was delicious.
posted by annieb at 5:27 PM on November 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Turkey gumbo! I don't love turkey, but I genuinely like the way it works in a gumbo.

You can find a ton of recipes online, including this one for the slow-cooker I tend to use (because sometimes I just don't want to do More Cooking.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:54 PM on November 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I substitute leftover turkey for the chicken in this Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe. It’s soooooo good!
posted by bookmammal at 9:06 PM on November 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

We love this turkey pho recipe. I usually use shredded cabbage for the mung bean sprouts that I can't find. It's delicious. We also make curried turkey pot pie that's pretty great. Just add curry powder to any pot pie recipe.
posted by ceejaytee at 6:59 AM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Take a package of those King's Hawaiian dinner rolls. They come in a flat of 12 rolls, all stuck together. Leave them intact, and cut the whole flat in half, separating the tops from the bottoms. Spread the bottom with leftover mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, whatever sounds good. Add the top, wrap in foil, and heat through. Unwrap and cut into sliders. The first year that we did this, hubby said, "Can we just skip the dinner and go straight to these?"
posted by xedrik at 7:42 AM on November 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I love me a turkey grilled cheese. Your favorite bread, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and your favorite cheese. Basically your standard turkey sandwich made hot and melty.
posted by kathrynm at 10:20 AM on November 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have two strong words for you:

Turkey. Nachos.

It's my favorite part of the-weekend-after-Thanksgiving.
posted by Mayor West at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is close to xedrik's suggestion, but if you can gather your wits and make a batch of dinner rolls like these, you can take all the leftovers and stuff them inside the rolls between steps 2 and 3.

We usually don't add in the gravy at that point, but do add in cranberry sauce if it's on the thicker side. When you're all done, you have a whole thanksgiving sandwich INSIDE a roll, ready to dip into some gravy and jeebs that's good and has completely usurped turkey sandwiches for leftovers in our house.

If you're going to go grilled cheese, I personally find that a Gruyere or other alpine style cheese to play real nice with everything up to and including the cranberry action if you roll that way.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:54 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

My mom makes a sort of deconstructed pot pie with cubed leftover turkey and a bag of mixed frozen vegetables (corn, green beans, etc.) mixed with gravy. She always used a packet of instant brown gravy (the turkey gravy being gone by this point) but whatever you have will do. Serve over mashed potatoes. A lot of people find the brown gravy off-putting but it’s strangely good.
posted by corey flood at 5:11 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is a kind of convenience/rush meal but sauté one onion, add a jar of butter chicken sauce, dice turkey and add to pot, warm through. Serve with rice.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:45 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm going to have to do a stuffed bread with Thanksgiving leftover. Thanks for the idea furnace.heat
posted by kathrynm at 5:58 PM on November 21, 2021

Sliced turkey sandwiches are so good. I add horseradish mayo, salt, pepper, lettuce. Sliced turkey freezes okay; you're going to add mayo so if it gets dry, you won't notice. Turkey is quite tasty in a wrap, and the possibilities are amazing, I like some cooked sweet potato or squash, stuffing and some cranberry sauce if you have it. You can buy various horseradish sauces; or make your own. Keep some in the fridge for late night snacks of turkey dipped in horseradish mayo. and now I realize I didn't buy horseradish.

Turkey is ridiculously cheap right now. I bought a 12 lb. turkey, defrosted it, and cut it in half lengthwise. One half is in the freezer. It's messy, and you have to have some knife competency, but it makes it so much more manageable. The giblets, neck, and backbone simmered this afternoon; lots of little bones and connective tissue make delicious broth. The broth makes gravy for pot pie, or soup, or such tasty risotto.

Store unfrozen poultry on the bottom shelf (heat rises, cold falls) and maybe make the fridge a little colder.
posted by theora55 at 7:59 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great ideas! Feel free to keep them coming.

xedrik, I have gone straight to Kings Hawaiian ham and cheese sliders in lieu of holiday meals in the past, and now envision a Kings Hawaiian slider buffet, perhaps for New Years Day. So extra thanks to you!
posted by the primroses were over at 4:13 AM on November 23, 2021

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