It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Leftover turkey time!!!
I remember the first time I was planning to host a holiday dinner. I was SO nervous about cooking a turkey. Then, after that first one – I realized it’s the easiest thing in the world. As long as you keep an eye on things every hour or so, cooking a turkey is one of the easiest way to feed your family for ages!
What’s more, you don’t need to reserve turkey for the big holiday occasions. It doesn’t need to be a huge production to make it, and at this time of year there are tons of deals that help make this majestic bird a winner for feeding yourself and your family with healthy, affordable protein all winter!
Throughout the winter there are all sorts of deals and coupons for turkeys (thanks for the tip, Coach BadBrand!). Lots of grocery stores and markets will also price match. I usually just buy a utility turkey, but there are lots of different options. You can get a pre-stuffed turkey, a pre-seasoned turkey and so on.
HOW TO COOK A TURKEY
This method of cooking applies to one without pre-stuffing. (For a stuffed turkey, there are a ton of recipes that you can check out.)
Folks worry all the time about their turkey being too dry; I’ve found that this way keeps your turkey nice and moist, and you can pay very little attention during the cooking period.
First things first, defrost your turkey. Generally, that means taking it out of the freezer at least a day before you plan to cook it.
Next, most utility turkeys have the innards and neck in a bag inside of them. Make sure to remove them before cooking.
The temperature you cook a turkey at is a bit oven dependent, but 325 degrees F is a pretty good place to start. While the oven is heating up, rinse the turkey, place the turkey in a roasting pan, and pat it dry. I heat up some butter or ghee, and add sage, salt, pepper, parsley and any other desired spices. Then I brush the bird with the butter mix, making sure to get it all over. I toss in some bay leaves as well. Next, I pour a few cups of water into the roasting pan as well. I find that keeps the bird really moist.
Next, tent the turkey with foil and put it in the oven. I roast for 2 hours, checking and basting every hour. To crisp the skin, you can raise the temperature to 425 F, remove the foil and roast for another 30-45 minutes. I tend to just keep the temperature the same, and my oven does the rest.
Once the outside is lightly brown, the juices running clear out the bird, you can remove from the oven. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to cook your turkey, look right here!
CAN’T BE BOTHERED WITH THE WHOLE BIRD?
Want something simpler to deal with? Fan of white meat? Booty Quake likes to roast a turkey breast only – and you can find them in most grocery stores.
“My fave turkey recipe is turkey breast – take 1/4 C grainy mustard and 1/4 C sour cream, spread on the breast, season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven and use a meat thermometer to check that it’s done. It’s the best turkey you can eat.”
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER TURKEY
Let’s be honest, hot turkey is good and all, but leftover turkey is where it’s at. There’s always so much leftover protein, and for a relatively low cost, you can feed yourself for days. You can also freeze the meat (good for 3 months in the freezer). Just remove it from the bone and put it in a freezer bag.
That being said, I eat my leftovers too fast to freeze!
There are SO many ways to eat leftover turkey. You can easily put it in wraps, sandwiches, or tear it up on a salad. Here are some other easy ways to use up that bird:
TURKEY & SWEET POTATO SOUP
Ingredients: 2 C peeled and chunked sweet potatoes, 1 C celery, 1 C chopped onion, 2 C turkey stock or chicken stock, 1 1/2 C frozen mixed veggies or peas & carrots, 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning (or marjoram and thyme), 4 strips of cooked bacon, 2 C diced turkey, 2 C light cream (or milk, or half & half), 1/2 C mushrooms, salt and pepper
Instructions: In a large stockpot or saucepan, combine the sweet potato, celery, onion and stock, as well as the seasoning. Bring the pot to a boil on medium heat. Turn it to low heat, and simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Next, add the mixed frozen veggies and mushrooms, and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the bacon and turkeys and continue to heat ton low for an additional 5 minutes. Then stir in the milk or cream, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a little while longer to blend the flavours, then serve.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp EVOO, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped hot pepper, 1 chopped sweet pepper, 2 tsp cumin, 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, 2 15.5 oz cans of kidney or mixed beans (rinsed), 2 C shredded turkey, salt and pepper to taste.
Instructions: Option 1 – put everything into a crockpot and cook slow. Option 2 – Heat up the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and sauté the onion and peppers until they begin to soften. Stir in the cumin and any other seasonings you want. Add the can of tomatoes, beans, 2 C water, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir occasionally while the child thickens (about 12-15 minutes). Toss in the turkey and cook another 3-5 minutes. Serve hot!
TURKEY AND SPICY RICE
Ingredients: 1 C long-grain white or wild rice, 1 tbsp EVOO, 4 ounces cubed chorizo (cured sausage), 1 1/2 C shredded roasted turkey, 1 C frozen peas, 1/4 C dry white wine, 4 sliced scallions, 2 chopped plum tomatoes (or small can of diced tomatoes if you like it tomato-y), salt and pepper
Instructions: Cook rice according to the package. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until slightly browned. Add the turkey, peas and wine to the saucepan and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and scallions. Season to taste, and cook for a minute or two. Add in the rice, toss and serve.
No matter what’s on your plate, I will you a safe, happy and delicious holiday season!
How about you? How do you use those turkey leftovers? What about our vegetarians and vegans? What do you eat this time of year? Tell us in the comments!