Leftovers are a serious part of the holiday feasting, tasty follow-ups to look forward to, prolonging the treat. Usually, leftovers are built into the cook's master plan after all, when we're calculating quantities who among us would plan to have not quite enough?
So there they are, reserves of ready-to-eat goodies that may also be easily tweaked into smart new offerings, limited only by cooks' energy levels and imagination.
Here are some ideas to keep up your sleeve for when you feel like a change that won't call for another major kitchen campaign. You may decide you like the sound of them enough to deliberately plan substantial surpluses, to see everyone through a long post-holiday weekend in delicious style.
Remember that the following suggestions can be starting points for your own variations.
The first step is: Never forget to refrigerate. Immediately remove the stuffing from the turkey and put it in a container or plastic bag. Refrigerate it to be eaten within two days, or freeze it to be eaten within a month.
To store leftover turkey, immediately remove the meat from the bones. Store sliced or cubed turkey in aluminum foil, and then zip-lock bags. Then, refrigerate or freeze within two hours of roasting.
Good breakfast bets
For scrambled eggs with a twist, stir leftover vegetables in creamy sauces (such as green bean casserole, creamed peas and onions, broccoli with cheese sauce) into beaten eggs and scramble as usual.
Stir mashed sweet potatoes into pancake or waffle batter for a sweet and hearty breakfast variation. Don't throw away your cranberry sauce. It's a perfect replacement for jam or jelly. Add a touch of honey to it and serve on top of pancakes or waffles for a great breakfast surprise.
Dinner or luncheon delights
Use leftover stuffing and shredded turkey to make "stuffing patties." Bind with a beaten egg, shape into patties and fry on both sides in a little vegetable oil. Serve with turkey gravy.
For a Southwestern flavor, toss leftover shredded turkey with taco sauce to moisten. Fill taco shells, sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and heat.
You don't have to go to the deli to get a mouthwatering turkey Reuben. Simply place leftover sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing between slices of rye bread. Grill, turning once until cheese melts.
A versatile "gobbling good" turkey salad can be adapted with regional ingredients. It is ideal for takeout sandwiches, or may be served over a bed of lettuce for a lighter meal.
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups cooked, diced turkey
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
In a medium bowl whisk vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper together. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Add diced turkey and celery; toss to mix well. Serve turkey salad on your favorite bread for sandwiches, serve over salad greens, or fill avocado or tomato halves.
Makes 4 servings.
l Northwest Turkey Salad: Prepare turkey salad as above. Stir in 1 large red apple, cored and finely chopped, 1/4 cup finely diced red onion, 1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds, chopped, and 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley. Serve over green leaf lettuce.
l Florida Keys Turkey Salad: Prepare turkey salad as above. Stir in 1 large navel orange, peeled and coarsely chopped, 2 scallions, chopped and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel. Serve salad over watercress.
l New England Turkey Salad: Prepare turkey salad as above. Stir in 1/2 cup cranberry relish (or leftover cranberry sauce), 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped and 1/4 cup raisins, optional.