Ingredient of the Week: Leftover Turkey

turkey.jpg
Photo by John Suh
"Gobble, gobble."
The week after Thanksgiving is often riddled with cooks across America scratching their heads at what to do with all the leftover turkey. Not to worry. Here at Eating Our Words, we offer not one, not two, but three things to do with that leftover turkey, not to mention its bones. From sandwiches to gumbo, this wonderful ingredient of the post-Thanksgiving week can do it all.

What is it?

The turkey is a large bird native to the forests of North America, but it is named after the nation of Turkey. When Europeans brought one home from America more than 400 years ago, they mistakenly gave it the same name as another bird from Africa -- the guinea fowl, which was, at the time, imported through Turkey.

Americans love their turkey, especially on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Benjamin Franklin even wanted to make the wild turkey, not the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States. The turkey that we eat, however, is different from the wild turkey; domestic turkeys are much heavier than wild turkeys and usually cannot fly because of their weight.

In 1975, Americans consumed 8.3 pounds of turkey a year. This number jumped to more than 18 pounds per year in 1995.

How do I use it?

Whole turkeys, like most other poultry, are mostly prepared by roasting, smoking, or frying. The leftover meat, however, is much more versatile. If you're tired of reheating and eating, try stripping the meat off the bones and storing it in an airtight bag or container either in the refrigerator or freezer. Use it to make turkey salad or sandwiches.

Don't throw away the bones, either -- use them to make stock. You can store the stock in the fridge for a few days and use it as a base for soup, or freeze for later use.

Where can I find it?

In your very own kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner.

Recipes

Turkey Pot Pie
Here is my favorite thing to make with leftover turkey meat. Pot pies are easy and an American staple comfort food.

Turkey Stock
Who needs Swanson when you can do it yourself? Follow these simple steps, and you'll have homemade turkey stock to use in your next soup or stew.

Turkey Congee
Every Asian cuisine has its own version of rice porridge. It's good to eat on a cold day or when you're under the weather -- think of it as the Asian chicken (or in this case, turkey) noodle soup. Soy sauce can be substituted for fish sauce.

Turkey is the gift that keeps giving. What do you do with your leftover turkey?



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