What to do with all those leftovers….

Carb fest AKA Thanksgiving is behind us!  I hope you had a wonderful day, surrounded by family and friends.

Sarah and the Turkey

We did manage to flip the 22 lb bird and it was probably the best turkey we have had.  Crispy brown skin all over & juicy and tender meat.

This is Sarah with “The Bird”.  I just know she wanted to pick off all the crispy skin and eat it on the spot!

(I guess we should have moved the mustard bottle!  Opps!)

Along with great food and even better memories comes the question of how to deal with all those Thanksgiving leftovers.

 

We were missing a few of our big ‘eaters’ this year.  Yes, I have leftovers!  Mostly, turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes.  I absolutely hate waste but at the same time I am not prepared to risk food safety either.  According to the USDA leftovers should either be eaten or frozen within 3 -4 days.  This is assuming that the food was packaged and refrigerated within 2 hours.

Rather than eating leftovers all weekend and repeating the ‘carb fest’ for the next three days and then trying to package and freeze everything, I have decided to take a different approach. We have a busy weekend ahead of us so rather than waiting until Sunday or Monday to deal with these leftovers, I am packaging them up today, Friday, and they are heading to the freezer.  I have also made myself a promise to LABEL and DATE everything! This will be my New Year’s resolution!  

I had not found a great way to freeze mashed potatoes. Until Jan shared her secret, since learning this technique there is never a mashed potato shortage around here.

I have started making and freezing mashed potatoes 10-20 lbs at a time on a random weekend. I feel like yesterday’s Thanksgiving was the easiest ever since I was not dealing with the potatoes other than to heat them up. You are right in that when you freeze them they get runny. Really really runny. What I discovered is that thawing in the fridge and then emptying that slop into a saucepan and heating it on the stove top over a low flame with an occasional stir brings them right back to perfection. The watery part gets absorbed back in and they tighten right back up. Good as the day they were made. This discovery (recent) was life changing for me.”

turkey stockThen of course there is that turkey carcass.  Yes, you can freeze it (in a food grade bag) and deal with it later but I have found that down the road I will look at that sad skelton and not want to deal with it.   Rather than pitching it into the trash 6 months from now, I have it cooking down for a great turkey soup this evening.  If I don’t use all the broth for the soup, I can freeze it and I know I will use it in fairly short order.

 

freezing gravy

 

The leftover gravy will be going into these small canning jars.  They are freezer safe and are just the perfect size for one meal.  A small container defrosts so fast and along with separately packaged turkey will make for a nice meal down the road.  

 

 

Turkey Dinner for the Freezer

 

I have wrapped the turkey breast in plastic wrap and then placed them inside a freezer bag.  Bags of stuffing, flattened and 1 cup jars of gravy, all ready to head to the freezer.  These are going to taste really good in a few weeks.  All will defrost quickly and safely in the refrigerator.  Add a vegetable and there is dinner!  

 

Now to decide what kind of soup to make!     

Comments

What to do with all those leftovers…. — 10 Comments

  1. I have started making and freezing mashed potatoes 10-20 lbs at a time on a random weekend. I feel like yesterday’s Thanksgiving was the easiest ever since I was not dealing with the potatoes other than to heat them up. You are right in that when you freeze them they get runny. Really really runny. What I discovered is that thawing in the fridge and then emptying that slop into a saucepan and heating it on the stovetop over a low flame with an occasional stir brings them right back to perfection. The watery part gets absorbed back in and they tighten right back up. Good as the day they were made. This discovery (recent) was life changing for me.

  2. Good morning Baking Nana. I love your way of doing things. I put turkey slices in a Ziploc freezer bag, pour gravy into it make sure all the air is out, into another freezer bag, lay flat in the freezer. Great for hot sandwiches. I also make pot pies and freeze, turkey bones go in for broth and freeze. There is never any stuffing left. Looking forward to making another turkey soon.

    • Hi manella. Getting the air out is really important. I have a seal-a-meal that I am just not happy with. Too many times the seams have developed a little leak = freezer burn. 🙁 I have had great luck tightly wrapping meat in plastic wrap and then into a freezer bag. We have a small turkey in the freezer but we won’t be doing turkey for Christmas this year so it will be nice to have some turkey leftovers.

  3. Don’t you just love those canning jars and freezer bags? Orange has been using canning jars to freeze meat for years. We actually dice up left over turkey and pack into quart jars for soups, pot pies and casseroles. Then crack one out of the deep freeze (aka “the Black Hole) when we don’t want to cook. Our very favorite is putting raw pork loin in jars and pressure canning, then freezing. You can’t believe how tender that pork is after pressure canning. We do all kinds of meat that way. Left overs AND great priced meats. We freeze our gravies and stuffing in freezer bags and place flat on cookie sheets to freeze, then stack in The Black Hole. LOL! It’s an art we’ve been refining for years. I am so glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving BN! See you in a week!

    • Hi Candice! I will have to pick your brain regarding pressure canners. I have been debating and I think you have me sold! Freezing things flat has made a huge difference for my ‘Black Hole’ – without considerable attention it can become a very scary place! January will be the month dedicated to shopping from the freezer. I can’t wait to see you!

  4. Some great tips and I agree about freezing the carcass and thinking you’ll deal later, just doesn’t happen here either. This year we stuck it in the crock after the kitchen was clean with the veggie stuffing and let it simmer on low all night. Yesterday after it cooled I still managed to get enough meat for a freezer container for soup off the bones, and let me tell you that meat was like fillet mignon. The really scrappy stuff goes to the dog and cats. I have enough broth to make it until Easter now.

    • Good morning, Sherri. I do the overnight crockpot on low with chicken on a regular basis. To be honest, this year after Thanksgiving was over and the kitchen cleaned up, it was all I could do to toss that carcass in a big stock pot and store it in the garage refrigerator. I felt better dealing with it the next day. If it had gone to the freezer it would have been forgotten for sure!

  5. B’Nana, you are a kitchen Goddess!! Beautiful! My great aunt used to make a “casserole” post holidays that she called Scalloped Bird. Bottom layer, dressing (in a greased pan), thin slices of turkey, usually the white meat, then poured the gravy over it. She would freeze it like that. Then, when she heated it up, she put seasoned/buttered bread crumbs on top, cooked a green veggie, made a salad. . . DINNER!! 🙂

    • Carla: That sounds like something that NB Papa would LOVE. I just love having a taste of Thanksgiving a few weeks down the road. It is so much better than the overdose of leftovers all in a row. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder….”