When you're preparing for guests, you never want anyone to go hungry. When you succeed, you often end up with a mountain of leftovers. If your fridge is still bursting after all your invitees have taken their doggy bags home, start tinkering so you'll get a full four days of memorable meals.
Fans of the show Friends will immediately think of the Thanksgiving sandwich Monica made Ross. We've got even more leftover turkey ideas up our sleeves than TV's favorite fictional chef.
You may have already thrown dry turkey between bread with other holiday leftovers, but we promise it's got nothing on a NOLA-inspired loaded po' boy. Source some 11-inch French bread or Belgian pistolets and gather whole-berry cranberry sauce, brown gravy, sliced dark or light turkey meat, and cornbread dressing.
The bread makes or breaks this sandwich—it should be light and fluffy with a crisp crust, so toast it if you need to. Serve with American cheese and French fries on the side for pure yumminess.
If you're cooking up a whole turkey, why not make some treasured stock to stand in for the powdered kind and add depth to future dishes? Roast the broken-up carcass before roasting carrots, celery, and dried chili. Add white wine (or a broth substitute if you have a dietary restriction) to the veggies and cook for a few minutes before placing the mixture in a stockpot where you'll add water and aromatics such as thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns.
When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and skim the foam for three hours, occasionally salting to taste. When the liquid is bursting with flavor, you can take it off the stove, strain it, allow it to cool, and refrigerate it, before scooping off the fat and freezing it in bags with a little room for expansion.
Creole cuisine provides yet more inspiration for your Christmas leftovers. How about some hearty gumbo prepared with turkey instead of chicken? This rich stew with sausage is generously spiced with paprika and cayenne pepper and uses filé powder as a thickening agent.
Serve it with rice for a filling post-Holiday meal.
Samin Nosrat's Netflix show "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" changed the way many people think about food. During the pandemic, she put out a popular podcast called "Home Cooking" with Song Exploder's Hrishikesh Hirway, which provided house-bound individuals with plenty of ideas to while away lockdowns.
Try her turkey tikka masala recipe. It's a fragrant ode to the curry and is another way to transform your classic turkey into food from another hemisphere. The meat is rendered moist and flavorsome by marinating overnight in spiced yogurt, and the masala itself is robust. Chopped cilantro adds freshness.
If your body feels a bit heavy and sluggish after a holiday feast, opt for food that's light but not dull. Enter the Mexican soup, sopa de lima. With zesty lime and a kick of chili, it's anything but boring, and you'll be tucking in with a sense of superiority at having hacked the perfect post-indulgence meal.
While you're traversing the globe, at least in spirit, make a pit stop in the Middle East. To call this casserole with rice cooked in turkey stock satisfying would be an understatement. Fry shredded turkey with garlic and a mix of allspice, cinnamon, and pepper. Layer your components and top with more stock.
Thoroughly cover the casserole with a garlicky, lemony yogurt combo before sprinkling chopped walnuts and baking for 15 minutes.
This bacon-free recipe is a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey. Avocado, shredded lettuce, boiled eggs, shredded turkey, and blue cheese play nice with tomatoes or grated carrots, and you can arrange this protein-rich salad to be visually striking and colorful.
A final dousing of dijon mustard and red wine vinegar dressing and a toasted almond garnish finish the whole dish off just before serving.
The thought of Kung Pao-style fried rice will have anyone who loves Asian food salivating. There's all that characteristic flavor you'd expect from turkey marinated for just over two hours at room temperature in soy sauce, sugar, and fresh aromatics like ginger and garlic.
Then it's stir-fried in peanut oil with Sichuan peppercorns, red pepper flakes, rice, and thinly sliced Brussels sprouts before being topped with roasted peanuts and scallions. Your holiday feast just went to the east for a culinary makeover; you're welcome.
Make a pulled turkey filling for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, and ravioli. Turkey can go on a pizza and into pasta, perhaps with some of your other holiday leftovers, like pumpkin puree. You can make a nourishing pot pie or a hash—the options really are endless for this versatile holiday staple.
You can keep leftover bits of turkey in your fridge for about four days and in your freezer for years, but the meat tastes best consumed within three months of preparation.
Slice the turkey, wrap it in aluminum foil, then pop it into a plastic freezer bag. Whenever you place items in these zip-top bags, push out all the air before zipping the bag closed for optimal results.