| “A Good Year” After the big feast Thursday, above, leftovers can spice up the menu for days. Express photo by Willy Cook
It happens every year. Guided by Butterball’s recommendation of purchasing at least two pounds of turkey for each Thanksgiving guest, home cooks across the country are faced with the challenge of turning what seems like an insurmountable mass of leftover turkey into something delicious.
Chris Kastner, owner of CK’s Real Food in Hailey, said he is no stranger to the turkey leftover conundrum. This year, he said, he’s cooking turkey for 120 people at his restaurant for Thanksgiving, but he and his wife often roast turkeys at home throughout the year.
Kastner said the leftovers are one of his favorite parts of the meal—which, he says, he rarely actually sits down to eat on Thanksgiving.
“Usually my problem is, I just eat the whole time I’m cooking,” he said. “I’m usually so sick of it by the time it’s served, because I’ve carved the turkey and I’ve been eating it the whole time. I love taking it out of the oven and eating the skin right away.”
Keith Perry, co-owner of Perry’s Restaurant in Ketchum, said he typically doesn’t eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner either.
“We close two days a year—Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Perry said. “We’re closed, and we don’t cook a turkey!”
But both said they have a number of ways to enjoy all kinds of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Kastner said one of his best ways to use leftover turkey is by making pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Though it’s traditionally made with beef, Kastner said turkey makes a good substitute, and a more interesting way to use leftovers than traditional turkey soup.
“You make a good turkey stock, but you season it differently,” he said, taking the carcass and boiling it in water with star anise, cinnamon, a touch of fish sauce and charred onion and ginger.
The broth is served in a bowl with rice noodles, and each diner adds condiments such as bean sprouts, shredded turkey, red onion and cilantro to his or her bowl.
“Everybody just kind of builds their own,” he said. “It’s a fun group deal. It’s a classic pho, just with turkey.”
Perry said that in addition to just having a second turkey dinner a few days after the first event, he’d use turkey in a version of one of his menu items—turkey avocado Benedict.
“It’s turkey, tomato, avocado and Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin,” he said. “We sell a lot of those.”
Perry said he also serves a low-calorie turkey pasta, where turkey pieces are mixed with nonfat ranch dressing, sautéed vegetables and rotini.
Both Perry and Kastner said they have experimented with “Thanksgiving patties,” taking various leftovers, forming patties and frying them. Perry prefers to use mashed potatoes, treating them like hash browns, and Kastner said he prefers to use stuffing.
“You can even do almost a turkey hash,” he said, “You can shred up some of the turkey and put it in there.”
Kastner said he normally serves the stuffing cake with a poached egg on top for breakfast, lunch or brunch.
Despite their more creative approaches to excess poultry, both Perry and Kastner said they had a more traditional favorite—and one likely shared by millions across the country.
“My absolute favorite is just a turkey sandwich with the cranberry sauce and stuffing,” Kastner said with a laugh.
How long do leftovers last?
According to www.foodsafety.gov, most Thanksgiving leftovers can last in the fridge for three to four days before they should be thrown out. Cooked poultry (such as that turkey, or alternatively chicken or goose) can be kept for three to four days, or frozen for four to six months. Gravy lasts one to two days in the fridge, which is the same as the shelf life for recorked white wine. Stuffing and mashed potatoes can also be kept in the fridge for three to four days, and baked (as opposed to uncooked) pies can be left in the fridge for two to three days. Baked pies may also be frozen for up to eight months.
Kate Wutz: email@example.com