Recycling the Thanksgiving Turkey

turkey carcassThe monster meal is over, clean-up is underway, but there is still half a bird sitting there.  What to do with it?  How to get the most out of it?  The universal first-line solution is left-over turkey sandwiches.  And they’re good, but those keep the tribe happy only for a while.  Here is how to process what’s left:

  1. Strip the meat from the bones.  Large pieces can be wrapped and stored to be used as the center of another smaller meal.  Separate smaller chunks, light from dark, package  and freeze for use in casseroles or soups.
  2. Drop the carcass (bones and clingy bits) into a stock pot.  Add enough water to half-cover the carcass.  Cover with the lid and simmer until the carcass comes apart and sinks into the liquid.  Simmer some more, add water if needed.
  3. Use a colander to separate the liquid from the odd bits.  This liquid makes a super soup stock.  When it cools a bit put it into sturdy zipper bags or containers and freeze.
  4. For the ambitious, picking through the bits strained out of the soup stock will yield a good amount of fine meat that had been left clinging to the bones.  Use this to make a turkey salad spread for sandwiches or a topping for crackers.
  5. Discard the bones carefully: they will be tempting to neighborhood dogs and cats, but can splinter and do serious damage to their innards.

To use up these turkey treasures, here are some great recipes. (Sorry about having to use links, copying their recipes here might get US in hot water!)

  • The Food Network A whole collection of yummy ideas for left-over turkey.
  • A News Video in which Sacramento area chefs offer some unique recipes for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
  • offers three delicious day-after dishes that are no secondhand suppers.
  • And, Simply Recipes offers an assortment of more traditional dishes.

But you no doubt have a family favorite, what’s YOUR favorite way to recycle left-over turkey?

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