Too much on the Christmas plate? Try these recipes with the leftovers

December 25, 2013 

There are many aspects of the holidays that we look forward to. The gathering of friends and family can be heartwarming. The giving of gifts, especially for children, is anticipated all year and sitting down to celebrate the season with a table loaded with the Christmas turkey, dressing, gravy and all the trimmings is a great joy to most.

Once the Christmas meal is devoured, however, you're likely to have plenty of leftovers.

Some may view the volume of leftover food a burden, and after the feast you may not want to face that bird again, but there are some recipes that are so good your family will never complain. If you have decided to cook a goose or ham this holiday, the following recipe suggestions will work with them as well.

At the top of the list is a turkey curry served with Thai jasmine rice. Forget the curry powder most Americans seem so fond of, go for the real deal with a Thai-style curry paste. You can make this dish as spicy as you like by adjusting the amount of curry you use. It is made creamy by the coconut milk, or coconut cream you use and the simple tip of simmering the milk until the oil separates makes this Thai-inspired meal even better.

Turkey tacos may seem mundane, but if you fire them up with salsa verde, sliced jalapenos and lots of melted cheese, it becomes a feast. Use yellow corn tortillas, not the wimpy soft flour tortillas that are so popular these days, and when you crisp them in a little olive oil they are good enough to eat by themselves. Top these killer tacos with spicy rhot sauce and no one will complain.

There are lots of good things to do with leftover turkey, and if you make the extra effort a turkey filled shepherd's pie requires, your family will be asking for it again and again. A turkey sandwich, when filled with cheese, avocados or cranberry sauce and grilled like a Panini or under the broiler, will be much in demand.

So don't write off that leftover turkey, debone the bird and store the meat in plastic storage bags until you are ready to wow your family with something special.

One last thought, if your budget is tight, roasted turkey legs can be a real treat, both the first time around and as leftovers. Three can be had for just over $5 and the dark meat is moist and delicious.

TURKEY CURRY

1 cup jasmine rice

2 cups turkey meat

1 can coconut milk

1/2 chicken or turkey stock

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste

2 chopped shallots

1 cup cubed potato

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1-2 whole kaffir lime leaves

Add the rice and 2 cups of water to a rice cooker, cover and turn it on. Add the coconut milk to a sauté pan, add the kaffir leaves and simmer until the oil in the milk separates. Add the stock and curry paste, whisk and simmer for 5 minutes. Make sure to taste to see how spicy it is, add additional curry paste if you want more heat and spice. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until the potato is done. Serve in soup bowls with a scoop of steaming hot rice in each.

TURKEY TACOS

2 cups shredded turkey meat

2 yellow corn tortillas per person

1 cup best quality salsa verde

1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese

2-4 jalapenos per sandwich

Hot sauce (I prefer Valentina for this dish)

Olive oil

Preheat broiler to high. Toss the turkey meat in several tablespoons of hot sauce. Place a few tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and heat to medium, add the corn tortillas and cook until just starting to take on color. Load each tortilla with the turkey, jalapenos and lots of cheese. Run under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Top with the salsa or hot sauce and serve immediately.

SHEPHERD'S PIE

FOR THE STOCK

Leftover bones from the turkey

1 quartered onion

2 carrots roughly chopped

1 head of garlic sliced lengthwise

Fresh ground black pepper

FOR THE PIE

2 cups leftover turkey

1 chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 chopped bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped carrot

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup green peas

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients for the stock and simmer for 1 hour, strain and reserve the stock. Sauté the onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots in a little oil for 6 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves and make sure to season aggressively with freshly ground black pepper. Add 2 cups of turkey stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the peas and turkey to the mixture, stir well. Spoon in the turkey and vegetables into a large casserole. Remove the bay leafs from the mixture and discard. Add the cheese into the mashed potatoes, mix well. Top the turkey with the mashed potatoes and cover evenly. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown. This can be made in individual servings as well.

OPEN-FACE TURKEY SANDWICH

2 cups leftover turkey

1 cup shredded Emmental or other Swiss cheese

1 whole avocado

Leftover cranberry sauce

Hearty bread, such as rye or multi-grain

Turn the broiler on high. Warm the turkey in a little leftover gravy if there is any. Build the sandwich by layering the warmed turkey and cheese, place under the broiler until bubbly, then remove and top with sliced avocado and cranberry sauce. Serve immediately, this sandwich is not half as good cold.

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