3 Fun Recipe Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

3 Fun Recipe Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Marshall Gause is a writer and researcher based in Oregon. He has served as a principal investigator on multiple educational studies, designed video games, and written music for film and game projects. He lives on a 7-acre farm with his wife and two sons where they raise dairy cows, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and geese, but curiously, no turkeys…yet.

Each Thanksgiving, even before the turkey comes out of the oven, I’m thinking about what comes next. No, I’m not talking about dreading washing the dishes, which I do, or scoping out Black Friday sales, which I don’t. I’m thinking about the turkey’s second act, which I might just like more than its first.

Once the meat is carved off, and the turkey is a pile of bones, the carcass goes into a stock pot. I add any raw vegetables that survived the day’s cooking frenzy – onions, celery, garlic, carrots – and put in enough water so the bones are submerged. A 15-pound bird in a 3-gallon stock pot needs about 2 gallons of water. Add a handful of peppercorns, a bay leaf, and bring it all to a boil.

Once it boils, lower the temperature and let it simmer overnight and enjoy the company of family and friends, and eventually do the dishes. The rich bone-broth this produces is liquid gold in my household. We freeze it in quart-sized batches or start cooking with it right away. It’s the foundation of so many wonderful dishes that will make you fall in love with leftovers.

Here are three more great ideas for your Thanksgiving leftovers:

  • Turkey and Dumplings: Sautée vegetables in butter using a Dutch oven or heavy pot. Stir in flour to create a paste and then add a few cups of the turkey stock and some diced turkey meat. In another bowl mix cake flour with baking soda, salt and butter and stir. Spoon out your dumplings and drop them in the Dutch oven. Cover and cook for fifteen minutes, add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy right away or pack it in tomorrow’s lunch in your Bento Leakproof Cup. For a gluten-free variation use sorghum flour or your favorite gluten-free baking mix.

  • Shepherd’s Pie: If I end up with a mass of mashed potatoes, I sautée some vegetables, add pieces of turkey, stir in broth and maybe some tomato sauce or milk, and let it all reduce until it thickens. Line a baking pan with the mixture and cover with potatoes, maybe sprinkle with some cheese and bake until the top is golden and crispy. Eat it hot or save slices for the big compartment in the kids’ lunches.

  • Twice-Baked Green Beans: Leave a jar of stock in the fridge overnight, skim off the fat and mix a few tablespoons with leftover green beans. Add salt and pepper, set the oven to 375 and preheat your broiler pan. Carefully spread the beans on the hot pan and bake for a few minutes. Besides infusing beans with flavor, turkey fat has a relatively high smoke point. Even cold, theses beans are great in an on-the-go salad.     

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipes? Let us know in the comments!

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