Wednesday, December 12, 2012

9 Really Different Ways to Use Turkey Leftovers

Thai Peanut Noodle
Q: How can I use leftover Turkey ?

A: Use leftover turkey in place of rotisserie chicken or cooked diced chicken breast:

1. Turkey Soup
2. Turkey Pot Pie
3. Cafe Salad

4. Boursin Pasta Primavera
5. Mole' Turkey Tacos
6. Muffletta Wraps

7. Turkey and Smoked Andoullie Jambalaya
8. Chicken Curry in a Hurry
9. Thai Peanut Noodles with Turkey

Store that Bird
Pull the meat from the bird, then shred or chop into bite sized chunks. Portion the meat into zip lock bags in family sized portions. It's best to freeze meat you won't use in the next couple days. You can save the bones for soup. If you won't be making soup by the next day, also wrap them tightly and freeze.

To protect the meat from freezer burn you have to remove as much air as possible. My trick is to add a small amount of chicken broth. The broth displaces the air around the individual pieces and lets you push the air bubbles out of the top. I tend to use a gallon sized Ziploc and push the meat towards the bottom. Then I can fold the empty top half of the bag under to make the bag more brick-shaped so that it's easier to store.

To thaw I put the bundle in a second bag, in case the bag with the meat has gotten damaged during storage. Then I thaw it out in bowl filled with very hot tap water. As the meat thaws you may be able to sort of break it up (while still in the bag) to speed up the process. Drain the broth off if you need the meat for wraps or salad, but if you are making a saucy dish I probably wouldn't bother.

Since this post is about leftovers, the directions below assume the meat has been frozen with broth and may need to be drained. If you are making one of these dishes the next day, just ignore that part.

More mileage from your cooking!

1. Thrown Together Soup:
Dice Carrot, Onion, and Celery. Saute in a little oil or butter until the onion becomes translucent. Add the turkey meat, enough broth to cover + 3 cups. Add ½ cup of white rice (uncooked) and 1 tsp Italian herb blend, plus salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Simmer gently until the rice is cooked and the veggies are tender.

2. Crazy Simple Pot Pie:
Cook a steamer bag of mixed veggies, combine with turkey meat and leftover gravy. If you don't have any left over gravy you can use packet gravy in a pinch, or make a sauce with 1 cup of (room temp) broth combined with 1 tbsp corn starch. Simmer the broth until thickened and use in place of gravy. Pour into 9x9 square dish and top with puffed pastry. Bake as directed for puff pastry (on the box) or until the filling is bubbling hot and the top is golden brown.

3. Cafe Salad:
Drain the meat, and shake off extra liquid. Toss meat with dark baby greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese, and a diced pear (optional). Dress with a balsamic vinaigrette.

4. Boursin Pasta Primavera:
Boil water and cook penne pasta as directed on package. Drain broth from turkey meat. Dice one yellow bell pepper, and halve a pint of cherry tomatoes. Microwave a steamer pack of asparagus or other appealing green veggie. In a 5 qrt pot or dutch oven saute the yellow bell pepper, add turkey meat to heat through. One minute before the pasta is done, add the cherry tomatoes to the meat and veggies. Drain the pasta and add to the mixture. Immediately add one package of Boursin Herb and Garlic Cheese or other soft herbed cheese like Alloutte, toss to coat.

5. Mole Turkey Tacos (Adapted from Weight Watchers)
Saute a diced onion in a little oil. Add 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp oregano, and ½ tsp cinnamon. Cook spices with onion 1 minute. Add 1 can diced tomato and a drained can of pinto beans. Drain Turkey and add to sauce. Simmer 15-20 minutes until heated through and somewhat thickened, add salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too liquid-y, use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it. A cornstarch slurry is 1 tbsp cornstarch combined with 1 tbsp room temp water, stirred until smooth and added to a sauce, then the sauce must be boiled for 1 minute to get rid of the raw flour taste. Serve the meat in taco shells with lettuce, shredded cheese, and salsa.

6. Turkey Muffletta Wraps:
Drain Turkey, shake off excess liquid. Drain 1 jar of roasted red pepper strips (packed in water NOT vinegar). Mince about 15 kalamata olives, or use a couple tablespoons of chopped black olives. Crumble one package of goat cheese. Combine meat, peppers, olives, and cheese. Toss with enough Italian dressing to coat and allow flavors to mingle 20-60 minutes if possible. Traditionally mufflettas filling goes inside day-old baguette which is wrapped in foil and baked, but I make mine more like Chimichangas. Heat skillet to medium high and add enough cooking oil to cover the bottom with ¼ to ½ layer of oil. Place a modest scoop of filling on large tortilla and fold into a flat-ish burrito. Pan-fry seam side down for a couple minutes until golden. Flip and repeat. Drain on paper towels, then hold in a warm oven if nessesary.

7. Turkey and Smoked Andouille Jambalaya:
Dice 1 large onion, 2 green bell peppers, and 2 stalks of celery. Saute with oil in a 5 qrt pot or dutch oven until the liquid has evaporated and the veggies begin to caramelize and turn brown. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Add one can of diced tomatoes (or hot diced tomatoes), smoked (cooked) sausage, turkey meat, 1 ½ cups of white rice (uncooked), and 3 cups of chicken broth. Cook until rice is tender and serve.

8. Chicken Curry in a Hurry:
My recipe is here. To substitute with theleftover meat, simply make the sauce and heat the drained turkey in the sauce - skipping the section where you saute the raw chicken meat.

9. Thai Peanut Noodles:
Slice 1 bunch of green onions, keeping the white and green separate. In a small saucepan gently saute the white part in a little oil. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil (wait to add the noodles). Remove from the heat. Add ½ cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup chicken broth, 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ tbsp dark sesame oil, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and two shakes of Cayenne (less than a pinch). Return the saucepan to a burner set to medium and add the turkey to warm through. 

Use ASIAN wheat noodles, they look like spaghetti but cook in 2 minutes. In a pinch ramen noodles would work, just throw out the flavor packets. Add the noodles to the boiling water, and cook according to directions. The authentic ones look quite powdery in the package - that's a hint that after being drained they must be rinsed or they will turn your sauce gluey. Serve with julienned red bell pepper, (seeded) thinly sliced cucumber, and/or chopped cilantro. 

Done & Done, eat it up Yum!

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