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3 Ways to Make Turkey Leftovers Better Than The Main Event

What to do with all that extra turkey? These three recipes take leftovers beyond the turkey sandwich.


I don't know about you, but for me there's something about the day after the holidays that's even better than the day of. All the pressure of pulling off the perfect dinner is over and there are no more to-do lists to check and recheck. You can relax, take a deep breath, and pad around in your pajamas all day if you like. But the best part really is the fridge full of leftovers. If you want to eat them cold, straight from the Tupperware container, go ahead—I'm not judging!—but with a little effort your next-day potatoes and holiday ham can be transformed into creamy, cheesy, meat-studded puffs or deep-fried croquettes. Cranberry sauce goes great with French toast (made from day-old bread) or swirled into your yogurt—and then, of course, there's the turkey.
If you're like most people, myself included, you'll end up with a lot (really a lot) of leftover turkey. We are so conditioned to worry about not having enough that we have a tendency to overcompensate. But if you bought a 20-pound bird to feed a party of 10 (a good rule of thumb is about a pound per person), so much the better. There are dozens of ways to use up all the extra meat, and while a turkey sandwich is a classic for a reason, I have a few more dishes for you to try. My Turkey and Mushroom Stuffed Shells is perfect for feeding any lingering house guests, and while it definitely satisfies those cheesy-baked-pasta cravings, lemon and capers give it a really nice brightness. If you're craving something lighter, get your greens in with my Herbed Turkey Caesar Salad, which uses turkey skin that's been recrisped under the broiler for a few minutes in place of standard croutons. And finally, when in doubt, pizza is never a bad idea. Pair turkey with fresh and smoked mozzarella, pistachio pesto, and grapes for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Since all of these recipes call for shredded meat, the easiest thing is to pull all the meat off the carcass on the day of. Shred as you go, and store the meat in clear containers or zip-top bags. (If you want, separate the dark meat, the white meat, and the skin into three containers.) Once you're done, don't throw out that carcass! If you break it down a bit (use your chef's knife or just your hands), you can also store the bones in a zip-top bag and put them in the freezer for later use. Or, if you're really ambitious, put the pot on with some aromatics while you tackle the dishes. And, by the way, if you're not making turkey, all of these recipes work just as well with the shredded meat of a store-bought rotisserie chicken, making them great options for easy weeknight meals all year long.

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