Make the most of all that leftover turkey and sides


Posted11/23/2020 6:00 AM

This column originally published Nov. 18, 2007

You've got your menu set for the Thanksgiving feast but have you given any thought to what you're going to do with the leftovers?


Here are my suggestions.

Simply sandwiches: Turkey's dark meat makes for excellent sandwiches and the difference in fat content between white meat and dark isn't that big. Here's the comparison straight from the USDA: 4 ounces (uncooked 8 ounces), skinless dark meat delivers 111 calories (21.9 percent from fat), 2.7 fat grams, and 20.5 protein grams; the same portion of breast meat delivers 111 calories (yup, the same, I checked it twice), 0.6 fat grams (4.9 percent of calories), and 24.6 protein grams.

A berry nice spread: Go ahead and make a flavor-packed dark-meat turkey sandwich. But instead of using calorie- and fat-packed mayonnaise on your sandwich, mix together leftover cranberry sauce with fat-free or reduced-fat (Neufchatel) cream cheese and smear some on the bread. Then build your sandwich. Much less fat and fewer calories; unbeatable. Also, try it on re-heated rolls or bagels.

Better broth: I love to take the leftover turkey carcass and skin and simmer that into a tasty broth. For me, Friday after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to let a pot of turkey pieces-parts, leftover gravy, and some aromatic vegetables (carrots, celery, and onion) gently simmer away. Also adding 2 tablespoons vinegar to the pot helps pull the flavor from the bones and, as the broth simmers, the vinegar's aroma disappears. Try it, you'll see.

Slow simmer: If you're headed to the mall for some holiday shopping, consider letting your broth simmer in a 325-degree oven. Just make sure you've got at least a gallon of liquid and the pot's covered; let the oven safely do the rest.

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That delicious broth may be used for a turkey noodle or turkey rice soup. It can also be used to make gravy for a hot turkey sandwich or a turkey stew (I simmer the vegetable chunks in broth, toss in diced roasted turkey at the end just to get it hot and thicken with flour or cornstarch). Delicious.

One potato, two potato: In year's past, on Saturday or Sunday morning following T-Day, I'd take leftover whipped potatoes, let them warm up a little, mold them into patties, like slim hamburgers, season them with some fresh-ground black pepper and sauté them in a nonstick pan in a whisper of oil (or butter) until golden. Serve them with scrambled eggs (heavy on the egg whites) and whole-wheat toast.

One man's tuna's another man's turkey: If you already have a favorite lean tuna casserole recipe, make it the same as always except substitute leftover turkey for the tuna. And, consider adding 1 cup leftover gravy with the usual condensed soup for added flavor and moisture. Or, if you made turkey broth, consider diluting the condensed soup with that broth instead of water.

With these ideas, you'll look forward to leftovers instead of dread them.

Try this recipe: Last year I put a different twist on an after-T-day sloppy Joe-style sandwich by using shredded light and dark turkey, instead of ground beef. It worked so well, I'm going to do it again this year. Here's my recipe; give it a try.


• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@

Gobble-'em-down Joes

1 (14½ ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)

1½ tablespoons packed light brown sugar

3½ cups (about 16 ounces) cooked turkey (light and dark meat), shredded

4 large, whole-wheat sandwich rolls, split

Purée tomatoes in a blender.

Place a 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery, chili powder, cumin, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables soften.

Add puréed tomatoes, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in turkey and cook until just heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Divide equally between sandwich rolls and serve.

Serves 4.

Nutrition values per serving: 417 calories (17.6 percent from fat), 8.2 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 38.7 g carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber, 40.5 g protein, 117 mg cholesterol, 813 mg sodium.

SaltSense: Using no-salt-added tomatoes reduces the sodium per serving to 439 mg.

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