Land of Leftovers

If you're planning a festive Thanksgiving feast for your family -- complete with a huge roasted turkey -- but are dreading the leftovers, this month's column is for you. I'm rolling out my favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes that will breathe new life into all of that turkey.

The key to serving lots of leftovers is twofold:

  1. Pace yourself. If you find that you have tons (or close to tons) of turkey left, try freezing some of it or sending care packages home with some of your guests.
  2. Be creative. The best way to serve that bird over and over without hearing moans from the table is to send it in with a new look. Serve it as a soup one night and an appetizer the next.

The recipes offered in this column go out of their way to adhere to tip #2. Everything from a spicy chili to a crunchy egg roll takes advantage of leftover roasted turkey. In case the whole turkey roasting thing has you nervous, I've even included a basic recipe for roasting the Thanksgiving bird.

However, if you're planning a meal for a small crowd and still think making turkey is too big of a bite to take, remember that roasting a chicken, goose, or some Cornish hens can be just as satisfying as the traditional turkey. And, with a smaller project to tackle, you might not be facing as many leftovers. Of course, if you find yourself with some, you can always substitute that for the turkey in any of these recipes.

Speaking of recipes, here they are:

Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Roast Turkey

The Basic Bird (or Roast Turkey)
  • 14 lb. turkey, thawed with wishbone removed
  • 8 cups stuffing (choose your favorite recipe)
  • salt
  • Olive oil for basting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle a little salt in the neck and main cavities.

Shortly before roasting, stuff the turkey using about 8 cups of your favorite stuffing. Start with the neck cavity and move on to the main cavity, making sure that you pack it loosely since the stuffing will expand during roasting. Carefully press a double thick piece of buttered waxed paper into the main cavity opening to keep the stuffing in. Then, cross the drumsticks across the opening and secure in place with a moist piece of kitchen string. Run the entire body of the bird with olive oil and place it -- breast side up -- on a rack in a roasting pan. Carefully tuck the wings under the back.

Place the pan in the lower third of the oven and baste with olive oil and pan juices every 30 minutes. Continue roasting for 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers between 162 and 170 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the oven and tent with foil. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes before carving. Serve with the stuffing and all the trimmings.

  • Yields: 12-14 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 5 hours

Turkey Egg Rolls

If you're a little intimated about making egg rolls or want to avoid deep-frying, try wrapping this tasty filling in blanched cabbage leaves and simmering the rolls in tomato sauce.
  • 6 tsp. oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 c. finely cubed roasted turkey
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T. teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded carrot
  • 3 c. finely shredded cabbage
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 T. water
  • 10 large spring roll wrappers
  • Oil for deep-frying

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger; cook until pale golden. Stir in the turkey, pepper and teriyaki sauce. Mix to evenly coat the turkey. Add the carrot and cabbage -- stir-fry for 3 minutes. Mix the cornstarch and water and add to the turkey mixture. Cook -- stirring constantly -- until the liquid is clear and thick. Allow to cool.

Cut the spring roll wrappers in half diagonally -- creating 20 triangles. Keeping the remaining wrappers covered with a damp towel, place 2 teaspoonfuls of the filling on a triangle wrapper. Fold the two side points inward. Then, roll up towards the last point to form a log. Seal the end with a little flour and water paste. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

Heat the oil in the deep-fryer and deep-fry four rolls at a time until they are golden -- about 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly on paper towels before serving.

  • Yields: 20 rolls
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Turkey and Smoked Gouda Quiche

If you can't find smoked gouda, try using another smoked cheese in its place. Cheddar is another fine option for this rich-tasting quiche.
  • 1 (8 oz.) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 tsp. honey mustard
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 c. cubed roasted turkey
  • 1 c. shredded smoked gouda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Separate the crescent dough into 8 triangles. Place in an ungreased 11-inch quiche pan; press the dough over the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Press the surface firmly to seal the perforations. Spread the crust evenly with the honey mustard.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl; mix to coat. Pour filling into crust and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Spicy Turkey Spread

This turkey spread can be used to make great sandwiches or spread on crackers for a quick snack.
  • 1 c. cubed roasted turkey
  • 3 T. diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
  • 3 T. diced onion
  • 1 c. nonfat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. nonfat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and evenly mixed. Chill for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

  • Yields: 2 1/2 cups of spread
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes plus chilling time

Spinach Salad with Turkey and Raspberries

Use the freshest raspberries you can find to make the most of this great salad.
  • 1/4 c. raspberry vinegar
  • 2 T. salad oil
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. shredded orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 8-10 c. torn spinach
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries
  • 1 c. sliced roasted turkey

Combine the vinegar, oil, maple syrup, orange peel, pepper and salt in a screw-top jar. Cover the jar and shake well.

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and turkey. Shake the dressing well. Add the dressing and raspberries to the salad -- toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes