Right now I’m sure many of you have turkey up to your eyeballs and are wondering just what to do with it. I’m giving you several ideas of how to use that leftover bird. But first, how about some fur and interesting turkey facts.
• 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving
• 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million turkeys on Easter.
• Turkey consumption has increased 104% since 1970.
• In 1970, 50% of all turkey consumed was during the holidays, now just 29% of all turkey consumed is during the holidays as more turkey is eaten year-round.
• Turkey hens (females) are usually sold as whole birds. Toms (males) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets and deli meats.
• The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds (WOW), about the size of a large dog.
• A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat.
• Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.
• In 1920, U.S. turkey growers produced one turkey for every 29 persons in the U.S. Today growers produce one turkey for every person in the country.
• Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly. Wild ones can fly short distances up to 55 mph and run 20 mph.
• 200 years ago in England, turkeys were walked to market in herds. They wore booties to protect their feet. Turkeys were also walked to market in the U.S.
• June is National Turkey Lover’s Month.
• Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He “pardons” it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.
• The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey are in a sandwich, stew, chili or soup, casserole and as a burger.
• Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers. White feathers have no spots under the skin when plucked.
• Indians used turkey feathers to stabilize arrows and adorn ceremonial dress, and the spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used as projectiles on arrowheads.
• Turkey skins can be tanned and used to make cowboy boots and belts.
Many people believe that Benjamin Franklin lobbied hard to make the turkey our national symbol instead of the noble bald eagle. That’s not quite true, but in a letter to his daughter, he did expound on the character of each, which may be where the rumor got started.
Officially, the tradition of the sitting President of the United States pardoning his Thanksgiving turkey dates back to John F. Kennedy, who decided to let his gift from the National Turkey Federation off the hook. But he wasn’t the first President to let a turkey go free; When Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad befriended one of the birds intended for Christmas dinner in 1863, kind-hearted Abe Granted it a stay of execution.
Did you know the first TV dinner was made up of Thanksgiving leftovers? In 1953, Swanson ended up with ten train cars full of frozen turkeys–260 tons of them–when an overzealous buyer ordered too many turkeys for the holidays. Salesman Gerry Thomas solved the problem by ordering 5000 aluminum trays and setting up an assembly line of workers to scoop dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes into the compartments. Slices of turkey rounded out the meal, which Swanson sold for 98 cents. The idea was a hit. The following year, 10 million turkey Tv dinners were sold.
Now for those leftovers of yours. I’m sure that a turkey sandwich is the most popular use of that leftover bird. I love a sandwich with just the turkey with some black pepper on bread with mayonnaise. I also love a sandwich with the works. You know, the turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce all jammed between two slices of bread. YUMMY!!
I’d say the next most popular use of the leftover bird is in a pot of soup. I’m giving you a great recipe that uses the entire carcass. A very economical recipe as well as a delicious one.
I’m also giving you a recipe for turkey tetrazzini and turkey bacon chili. Either one would be a great use of your leftovers.
As always, enjoy, and gobble, gobble!
Turkey Carcass Soup
1 turkey carcass
4 quarts water
6 small potatoes, diced
4 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ cups shredded cabbage
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
½ cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 pinch dried thyme
Place the turkey carcass into a large soup pot or stock pot and pour in the water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the turkey carcass until the remaining meat falls off the bones, about 1 hour. Remove the turkey carcass and remove and chop any remaining meat. Chop the meat.
Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a clean soup pot. Add the chopped turkey to the strained broth; bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and stir in the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, cabbage, tomatoes, barley, worcestershire sauce, salt, parsley, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning and thyme. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about one more hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
8 ounces spaghetti
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
1-3 tablespoons Sherry wine (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh parley, chopped plus some extra for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 dash ground black pepper
3 cups cooked turkey meat, cubed
4 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms (you can use canned if you prefer)
½ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the spaghetti to al dente as per the package directions. You may want to cook it a minute or so less since it’s going to cook in the oven.
In a dutch oven, melt butter. Stir in flour to make a roux and then add chicken broth, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in the half & half, sherry, parsley, salt, nutmeg, and pepper until well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Toss in the pasta, turkey and mushrooms with sauce until everything is well coated.
Turn the mixture into a 9” x 13” pan and sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake for around 40 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Turkey and Bacon Chili
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as safflower, sunflower or peanut
1/3 pound meaty bacon, finely chopped or diced
1 ½-2 pounds ground turkey, light and dark meat combined or leftover turkey, well chopped
2 small-medium ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
1 crisp apple, such as Northern Spy or Gala, peeled and chopped 1/4-inch dice
1 small yellow or white onion, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 round tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
5-6 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
About 2 tablespoons molasses
About 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
About 1 tablespoon soy sauce
About 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
Heat a large cast-iron skillet, nonstick skillet, or dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Add bacon and render. Add turkey and brown and crumble. Add celery, apple, onions, jalapeno peppers and garlic, then season with salt, pepper, chili powder, mustard, paprika, cumin, coriander, sage and thyme. Stir and soften vegetables with meat for 5-6 minutes. Add molasses, worcestershire, soy sauce and stock. Lower heat and simmer to thicken for about 10-15 minutes at low bubble.
(PUB. NOTE: Elizabeth loves to hear from readers who have recipes or food-related stories to share. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)