Friday, November 25, 2011


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Or ... What to do with the damned turkey!

For those of you who, like me, are designated as Keeper of the Sacred Bird, you have to deal with the aftermath!

And, of course, those of you who don't have to address the business of the turkey carcass are saying, "Turkey sandwiches. Yum!"

Okay, the neatly sliced turkey is easy enough, into the baggies or Tupperware it goes. It's the rest of it that's the problem, all that good stuff that's left on the bones, and I'm the one that's usually still standing in the kitchen at midnight on Thanksgiving night, staring in distress at the bird.

A friend suggested that I could just THROW IT OUT. I recoiled in horror. Throw out the turkey??? Sacrilege. My mother and my grandmother lived through the Depression. The turkey was never thrown out. There was turkey hash and turkey soup and turkey tetrazini until I never wanted to see another turkey as long as I lived, and especially not a month later at Christmas.

Funny thing, though--no one ever went to such pains to get every bit of meat off a chicken, so I'm not quite sure I follow the logic of this dictum.

Perhaps this year I'll take my friend's advice and just dump the remains IN THE TRASH.

There. I've at least contemplated the deed. But just in case I change my mind, do my fellow Reds and our fabulous readers have any must-make ideas for leftover turkey????

JAN BROGAN:: I haven't actually done this myself, but my husband heard this story and I may try it this year. You either get a store bought pie crust or you make one yourself and stuff all the leftovers TOGETHER inside the pie and bake it.

I'm a little picky. There are certain leftovers I would not include. But it would be a culinary adventure, if nothing else.

RHYS BOWEN: John always makes turkey curry, in fact the family often begs us to cook a turkey during the year so they can have the turkey curry more often. We'll have it on Boxing Day!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: What leftovers?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Turkey tetrazzini. It is DELICIOUS!!! White meat shredded, and sautteed mushrooms, and a white wine cream sauce, mix all together, bake with a huge amount of parmesan on top. It takes EVERY pan and dish in the kitchen, and it is fabulous. (Email me if you want the recipe. Or--ask the Joy of Cooking. :-) Just add more wine and mushrooms and pepper than it calls for.)

HALLIE EPHRON: Mmmm, turkey tetrazzini. Haven't had that in ages. We used to make it with sherry.

At our house, we pick pick pick until there's not much meat left on those bones, and then break up the carcass and it goes into the soup pot with lots of chopped up carrots and celery and onions, and TURNIP (don't forget turnip)! Some bouillon cubes (after it's cooked a carcass doesn't have quite enough taste), S&P and a handful of parsley and a few bay leaves, peppercorns, plus any of your favorite herbs of course. Cover with water, bring it to a boil and simmer for hours. I add lots of quartered mushrooms when it's about an hour from done.

Cool it. Fish out the bones and rescue the meat which goes back into the pot.
Voila. Dinner for at least another 3 nights.

LUCY BURDETTE: Yeah, I'm in the "what leftovers" camp. I bought a 20-pounder and I hope it's enough! But I love all the Reds ideas so ready if needed!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The whole point of roasting a turkey is to have leftovers! In fact, in those rare times when we're not hosting the dinner ourselves, I go out and get either a hotel-style breast or a very small turkey to cook at home. And I'm with Hallie - don't bother to make something else with it, just send anyone hungry to the fridge with orders to slice off a bit until it's gone. Then it's time to make and freeze turkey broth! That homemade broth is the basis for every soup my family eats between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

DEBS: Hank and Hallie, my mom used to make turkey tetrazini with sherry, too, and I loved it. But my DH doesn't like casseroles, or anything with sherry, or mushrooms, or especially green peppers, so that's pretty much out.

I've made delicious soup from the turkey bones, especially my friend Franny's recipe, which has yummy vegetables, lots of sage, wild rice, and little dumplings made from the leftover dressing.

But this year I decided to throw tradition to the winds. I saved enough for sandwiches and another dinner, and then I did, I really did--I threw the rest out!

Maybe next year I'll make curry.


  1. For five people: one turkey with stuffing and gravy; mashed potatoes; pureed parsnips; green bean casserole; cranberry sauce; two pies (we made one, guests brought one, as well as homemade soup). Heavy cream in/on everything.

    Leftovers = endless! We will be digging the shriveled remnants out of the back of the fridge next spring. But, oh, it tasted good!

  2. My husband always volunteers to pick the meat off the carcass. A lot of it we have always used to make a casserole with broccoli and mushroom soup and sour cream and cheese and rice. This year, though, I am investigating alternatives for the canned mushroom soup.

  3. My family has the same attitude as Julia. Eat it until it is bare and then it becomes soup. We also have a tradition of turkey leftover lunch the day after (which since we are not in the US at the moment is the Sunday before Thanksgiving) before the last of the guests depart (or this year some of the guests depart, the last ones left on Monday).

    In our family we had a major disaster a few years ago. There were NO leftovers!!!

  4. Sometimes I pretend that the turkey is just a big chicken and translate my recipes into turkey enchiladas, turkey salad, turkey cassoulet and of course turkey lasagna.

  5. Turkey casserole: Grease casserole dish with leftover gravy or butter. Layer leftover mashed potatoes, turkey, [cooked] green beans, and stuffing; drizzle with gravy. If possible, add another set of layers on top. Top layer should be stuffing. Bake covered in a 350 oven for ½ hour. Remove cover and bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until top stuffing layer is slightly crisped. Serve with additional gravy and cranberry sauce/jelly, if desired.

  6. Lark!! That sounds wonderful!

    Debs, my father never liked casseroles. We were never allowed to have them. As as result, think they're exotic and wonderful.

    Happy post-thanksgiving, all! xxo

  7. MMM, Lark that does sound good! And Cindy, maybe just a simple white sauce instead of the mushroom soup?

    One of my kind guests broke the carcass up last night and jammed it into the pot so I could make my broth today. Now I have a pot of "Screw the Roux" stew simmering, with turkey, turkey sausage, tomatoes, okra, peppers, onions, celery and creole seasoning. I can hardly wait!

  8. I love leftovers. Part of my breakfast this morning was stuffing. But making soup immediately after Thanksgiving felt like too much work so I threw the carcass in the freezer. I'll probably dig it out sometime next year.

  9. Why don't you all make Hot Browns? They are so simple to make. Toasted bread, turkey, creamy cheese sauce, with sliced tomato and bacon on top. Serve Hot. Yummy!

  10. I had a friend who cleaned the kitchen by throwing the carcass and non-sandwich bits into a pot of water and simmering for two days. Delicious broth! I also love turkey enchiladas and turkey hash. Thanks for a blog idea for Potluck with Judy. I won't ge tit up until Sunday night.

  11. years ago when we lived in Fla, we had a retired neighbor who always took my chicken or turkey carcasses (wtih some of meat left on them) and made us the most heavenly soup - Ben was such a great friend and awesome cook - miss him.......Did not cook this year - we were to go to neibhors but we were both sick, so they sent us over Turkey dinner plates (very sweet of them) i usually live on turkey sandwich's, dressing and cran sauce for 4 or 5 days. Turkey pot pie would taste heavenly right now........Debs you can always chop the turkey up and put in in small freezer bags, or in plastic/foil in small amts - nice treats to give the poochies occassionally :o) Annabelle always votes for that one......Hugs Mar

  12. Maybe you could freeze the carcass until delivering it to a soup kitchen where it could be put to good use.

  13. Nice ideas! (Making notes!) I make tetrazzini sometimes (MUST have sherry involved) and a lot of the dishes already mentioned.

    Also love Mulligatawny Soup.(Kind of a curry) And, if we don't make the traditional Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for T'Day, when I have the turkey carcass left or gifted, I use it up for Turkey Gumbo. It's delish.