Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
Turkey is an easy-to-prepare meat, an excellent source of protein and a meat that lends itself to many food preparation techniques. We should be planning turkey in our meals year-round, not just during the holidays.
Turkey is not only so versatile but, most importantly, it is so economical. Grocery store prices this year are unbelievably low, but turkey prices are always a bargain.
I am sure many of you have had that mouth-watering turkey sandwich that I wrote about earlier this fall. Having one of those sandwiches just once is never enough. The flavors in each bite are just real tasty, so I am writing about all the possibilities of great food that you can prepare with your planned-over turkey — for turkey you have roasted now or future turkey from other holidays to come.
You can take that bird from the true American holiday and make it in to many ethnic food dishes. I know many of you may have some cooked vegetables and as well as some vegetables from the relish tray. Turn on the stove, get your pan, skillet or Dutch Oven on the burner, add a small amount of oil, some minced or crushed garlic, a medium sliced onion and cook until the onion is lightly browned. While the onion is cooking, if your vegetables are large, slice or cut them in uniform pieces and then add them to the skillet, and start tossing or stirring everything together. Then add your small pieces of turkey and the vegetables that were already cooked, such as the green beans. Then you can add some seasonings — one of the easiest would be a quick pour or two of Italian salad dressing.
If you want an Oriental flavor, mix some light soy sauce with corn starch and then pour this over the mixture and gently toss until it is heated. This is great as is or if you want rice, remember it only takes 15 minutes to cook. You can start cooking the rice at the beginning of this meal preparation and by the time the stir fry is done your rice will be done too. You could also turn the rice into fried rice if you have some leftover peas and carrots.
Another ethnic opportunity for the use of turkey is in Mexican food. There are many possibilities with the roasted turkey but one of my favorites is to make burritos. Roasted turkey with a tomato salsa, onions and peppers and some cheese in a folded or rolled corn or flour tortilla is just really tasty.
Using the roasted turkey you can also create a shepherd’s pie casserole and just about every nationality has their own twist on this. This casserole can be layers of your planned-overs, such as the chopped turkey, vegetables, mashed potatoes and then the gravy poured over it and then baked.
Since the weather has gotten cold like it is already winter, a natural to make with the turkey carcass is soup. I know for a fact that most turkey carcasses are not having the most made of them. The easiest way to do this is break up the carcass and put it a large pot with water and simmer it till the meat falls off the bones, then lift the bones out. You might want to pour the broth you made through a strainer to eliminate most of the bones. Then you can decide about adding all of the planned-overs into the pot.
I was recently told a story in which the cook put everything in the soup, all of the vegetables, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the dressing and the gravy and even the cranberry relish. I was told that this was a pot of soup that was the best ever and the flavor was excellent. I believe you could call it one of a kind.
I must mention that you can always make a Hot Brown. If you are tired of eating turkey, then plan to freeze it in the amounts that you will be using in future recipes. Make sure to wrap it in plastic wrap and then place the packages in a freezer bag. Remove as much of the air from the bag before you close it up, label it and place in the freezer. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for another turkey sandwich. Enjoy!
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is county extension director and extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County, 17746 C.R. 34, Suite E, Goshen IN 46528-6898. Contact her at 574-533-0554 and firstname.lastname@example.org.