Archive for Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Handle with care: Managing leftovers takes time and planning

November 25, 2009


Carole Boulton will have 12 or 13 folks gathered around her table Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner.

And despite the many mouths to feed, she'll spend the tryptophan-spiked hours after the meal parceling out an abundance of leftovers from her 22-pound turkey and all the trimmings. Everyone goes home with a container of food, despite the packed house.

"By doling it out to the kids, we get it down to a smaller amount. Like certain kids love green bean casserole, the old standard with the French-fried onion rings on top, so whoever loves that goes home with them, mostly. Somebody loves rolls, so we try to get rid of the rolls," the Lawrence resident says. "I really love cranberry sauce though. That usually stays here and enough turkey to make sandwiches."

For those without a decades-old plan, or who get stuck with a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers, knowing what to keep, how to keep it and for how long can be tricky turkey day business.

Tricky and important: Improperly stored leftovers can harbor bacteria that can make you relive Thanksgiving again, and not in a good way.

Susan Krumm, an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St., says the first rule of Thanksgiving leftovers is packing them up right away. Anything left out of the fridge for more than two hours could be dangerous.

"It's pretty simple to do, but the deal is that two hours isn't a long clock when you are socializing with friends and family," Krumm says. "So, after the meal is over, it's time to start deboning and getting it ready for the refrigerator."

In Boulton's house, her husband takes care of the deboning as long as she keeps the bones to make post-Thanksgiving turkey soup.

"The worst part of Thanksgiving is dealing with the turkey after the meal. After you've cooked the turkey, gotten him in the oven, and served him, then it's the pits to go back into the kitchen and get the meat off the bone, with the grease on the platter and the bones," Boulton says. "My husband is really helpful. He says, 'If you cook it, I'll clean up afterwards.'"

Krumm says that no matter if you keep it yourself or send some home with guests, leftovers should be properly stored, and anything you don't plan to eat by the end of the long weekend should be frozen as soon as possible. And, when storing items, it's important to use shallow containers, says Krumm, stressing that large containers make it harder for the food to cool properly, which can lead to lingering bacteria.

Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole all have a short shelf-life because of their thickness, says Krumm, but gravy should be your biggest concern. No matter how cool you get it or how fast, it shouldn't be in your fridge for more than 24 hours.

"The stuffing or the gravy should be used within one to two days," Krumm says. "Gravy is really a food safety concern because ... it's very thick and dense, and actually, in food service, we don't recommend to even keep it."

As for the sweet stuff, the sugar in cranberry sauce means it's good for up to a week, while pumpkin pie made from scratch should always be in the fridge - only take it out to serve it and then put it right back in - and should be eaten before Sunday.

As for using those leftovers, Krumm suggests going for something besides a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner days in a row. Krumm suggests freezing your turkey and then thawing what you need for salads, soups and as a quick substitution for chicken in your favorite dishes.

"I'm preparing a chicken taco soup ... that has shredded, cooked chicken in it that just as easily could you use turkey - what a different twist for that turkey leftover than to turn it into a taco soup," Krumm says. "You could freeze that (shredded turkey) and then have it for later on without giving it any thought at all. I always want to keep a little bit just for turkey sandwiches. I'm really enjoying paninis now. And making a panini with sliced or shredded turkey is like 'wow' - that's going to be fun."

Stuffing Cakes with Poached Eggs, Ham and Mushroom Gravy

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 package (16 ounces) stuffing, prepared (about 8 cups)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

8 eggs

8 ounces sliced cooked ham, warmed

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium. Stir the flour in the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Gradually stir in 1 cup stock. Stir in the remaining stock and the thyme and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with the salt and black pepper and keep warm.

Shape 1 cup stuffing into a patty. Repeat with the remaining stuffing. Heat the remaining butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until well-browned on both sides. Remove the patties from the skillet and keep warm.

Pour water into a 12-inch deep-sided skillet to 1 1/2 inches deep and heat to a simmer. Do not boil. Stir in the vinegar. Crack 1 egg into a cup and drop it gently into the water. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Gently push the egg whites closer to the yolks. Turn off the heat and cover the skillet. Let stand for 4 minutes or until the egg whites are set. Remove the eggs from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Divide the ham among the stuffing cakes. Top each with 1 egg. Spoon the mushroom gravy over the eggs. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Ryan Scott for Swanson Broth.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)

1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)

3 cups shredded or diced cooked turkey

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup chicken stock

1/3 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

8 hamburger buns, toasted

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the turkey, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper to the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, ketchup and soy sauce and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir the cornstarch and water in a small cup until the mixture is smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Divide the turkey mixture among the buns.

Recipe by Ryan Scott for Swanson Broth.

Asian Turkey Soup

10 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions

3/4 cup uncooked basmati rice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups diced butternut squash

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey

2 cups cremini mushrooms stems trimmed, cut in half and thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Stir 8 cups broth, the onions and rice in a 6-quart saucepot and heat over medium high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in the turkey, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon cilantro and the black pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining broth, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Add the vegetable mixture to the saucepot and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir in the soy sauce and remaining cilantro before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.

Recipe by Ryan Scott for Swanson Broth.


George_Braziller 8 years, 5 months ago

Thank God this wasn't another Susan Krumm article warning how we will all die from food poisioning if leftovers sit on the counter for 45 seconds or we touch a raw egg.

George_Braziller 8 years, 5 months ago

Ooops. Missed the Krumm gloom and doom forecast of death the first time I scanned the article.

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