Tips for your leftover Thanksgiving feast

Jessica Curtis

All the work and preparation that goes into shopping, baking, roasting and cleaning up after your Thanksgiving meal results in leftovers. What to do with them?

First, if you have a foodbank or a church or local mission that feeds needy families in your area, they would surely appreciate anything you have to offer. Check with them before ever tossing good food into the wastebasket.

Next, if you’ve seen the movie, “The Christmas Story” in which the family dinner gets eaten by a pack of neighborhood dogs, then you will remember the list of things that Ralphie’s family looked forward to after Thanksgiving; turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey gravy, turkey hash, Turkey a la King and gallons of turkey soup!

Well, those are dishes that we can all have with a little ingenuity and effort, and leftover turkey, of course! 

First order of importance at our house – turkey sandwiches. Using really good bread, like the Monk’s Bread available in Cullman, or if you don’t have access to that, you might try Lewis Deli Sesame Rolls, or other good quality rolls, which have been lightly buttered on both sides, and toasted in the oven until golden brown, then layer the following: mayo and/or mustard as desired, lettuce, tomato, cheese slices and turkey. Salt/pepper optional. Or serve open-faced chopped turkey on toasted rolls with warm turkey gravy, topped with shredded cheese if desired.

Turkey soups vary from family to family and region to region. Most call for, of course, leftover turkey, to which any drippings or gravy can be added. Use any leftover raw veggies, like carrots, English peas, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery and onions, even your creamed potatoes can go in your soup for added heartiness. If you have saved your turkey skeleton, cover with water (about 2 quarts). Boil it for a while to get out all of the flavor, then discard, making sure to remove all bones. If you didn’t save the turkey carcass or your chicken broth, you can use a couple of chicken bouillon cubes to add more flavor to your soup, just remember that you won’t need to add additional salt because bouillon cubes are heavy on sodium. You can also add spices to your taste, including poultry seasoning, thyme, garlic and pepper. Boil until veggies are tender and soup has thickened.  Serve with leftover rolls or crackers.  

Turkey and Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder is another way to utilize leftover turkey and will warm you up if the weather turns cold!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped, divided
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
  • 2-3 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 can (14.75 oz.) cream-style corn
  • 2 cups chicken broth (fat-free is fine)
  • 1 cup milk
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
  • Optional- chopped green onions, pepper jack cheese
  1. Sautée onions and half the red pepper in butter in a saucepan on medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add to soup pot.
  2. Add cream cheese; cook on low heat 3 to 4 minutes or until melted, stirring constantly to keep from sticking. Stir in turkey, corn, broth and milk.
  3. Cook 5 min. or until soup is heated through, stirring occasionally. Garnish with chopped green onions, remaining bell pepper, pepper jack cheese and/or black pepper. Serve with hot cornbread or crackers.


Barbecued Turkey

Shred leftover turkey into small pieces. Place in a Dutch oven with the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • Garlic and onion salt to taste
  • If you have an excessive amount of turkey, double recipe for sauce.
  1. Toss turkey with sauce in Dutch oven, then cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing twice during cooking process.
  2. Serve on hamburger buns with slaw and chips.


Turkey Pot Pie

Even a novice cook can prepare this dish with success!

Roll out two Pillsbury pie crusts on a floured surface.
In a saucepan with your turkey pieces (approximately 2 cups), add the following:

  • One large can of cream of chicken soup
  • Half a stick of butter
  • One can of English peas, drained
  • One can diced carrots, drained, or leftover carrots, diced
  • Two small potatoes, diced
  • One small onion, finely chopped
  • (If you don’t have these in your pantry, one large can of Veg-All will substitute very well.)
  1. Add spices to taste. (garlic, salt, pepper, poultry seasonings, chicken bouillon cube)
  2. Stir and cook over low heat until soup and butter are melted and blended.
  3. Place bottom of first crust in a deep-dish pie plate.
  4. Carefully pour ingredients from saucepan into crust, stopping when it is ¾ full.
  5. Top with remaining crust, crimping edges and pricking in the center with the tines of a fork to let steam escape.
  6. Set pie plate on an aluminum or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until golden brown. (After 20 minutes, cover edges of crust with strips of aluminum foil or pie crust shields.)

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