CHEF JEFF: Ideas for Thanksgiving leftoversI can’t think of any other day during the year that is more associated with leftovers than Thanksgiving. After all, when else do you have a refrigerator full of several pounds of turkey, a mound of mashed or sweet potatoes, containers full of stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies and the like?
I can’t think of any other day during the year that is more associated with leftovers than Thanksgiving.
After all, when else do you have a refrigerator full of several pounds of turkey, a mound of mashed or sweet potatoes, containers full of stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies and the like? (Did I forget to mention pie?)
It’s hard to imagine there would be that much food left over after a meal at which most participants have eaten like there is no tomorrow. But as anyone who has ever prepared a Thanksgiving Day meal knows, there’s always too much food.
But when you get right down to it, leftovers might be one of the best things about the holiday — next to spending quality time with family and friends. They can provide several lunches starring a variety of amazing sandwiches or a couple of larger meals featuring dishes similar to one of our favorites, a shepherd’s pie.
Many people already are busily preparing for Thanksgiving, preparing make-ahead items such relish trays, salads, homemade breads, and, of course, desserts.
And I’ve even discovered some people are cooking their turkeys a day in advance, which seems like a pretty good idea considering all of the other chores a cook has on Thanksgiving, especially around the time the turkey needs to be cut.
At least two people I know — Tim Riopelle and Ken Vein — said they like to cook and dress down a turkey the day before Thanksgiving.
Tim said he will be putting the white meat and dark meat in separate bowls after his bird is through cooking and cut up today. On Thursday, he’ll pour some of the drippings he hasn’t used for gravy over the meat and cook it for about an hour before mealtime. He claims you can’t tell when the turkey was cooked.
Ken also will trim a cook and trim a bird today but will prepare a second turkey Thursday that will star in his family’s noon dinner. The meat from the first turkey will be used later in the day for sandwiches.
I didn’t discuss leftovers with Tim and Ken but it’s my hope that they aren’t like a lot of other Americans who will toss a whopping $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash this Thanksgiving, contributing to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Along with trashing uneaten turkeys and other leftovers, they’ll be wasting the resources necessary for its production — meaning 105 billion gallons of water (enough to supply New York City for more than 100 days) and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco. That’s enough turkey to provide each American household that is food insecure with more than 11 additional servings, and 17.9 million American households suffer from food insecurity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 35 percent of perfectly good turkey meat in the country does not get eaten after it is purchased by consumers. (This compares with only 15 percent for chicken.)
If that isn’t enough incentive to use your leftovers, Becky Westerling, Altru Health System licensed registered dietitian, says with the increasing cost of groceries, using your holiday leftovers is a budget saver.
And, she adds, the possibilities for leftovers are endless.
Becky suggests using leftover bread for French toast or bread pudding, adding chopped-up vegetables to diced ham, eggs and cheese to make an egg bake or using leftover turkey and vegetables to make a soup. Leftover meat also can be used for wraps, barbecue sandwiches or stir-fry.
Becky says, when using leftovers, think safety first.
“Make sure perishable leftovers do not sit out for more than two hours To cool them quickly, divide into smaller shallow containers and store in a refrigerator that is set lower than 40 degrees. And make sure there is plenty of space around the containers for cold air to circulate.”
One question a lot of people have is how long does food last before it’s unsafe to eat. Here is a list of some foods and their refrigerator life:
• Rice, seven days.
• Deli counter meats, five days.
• Vegetables, pasta, beef, poultry, pork, fish, soups, stews, casseroles and sliced ham, three to four days,
• Gravy, stuffing and seafood, one to two days.
As you can see, a little preplanning to use your leftovers means some pretty good eating as well as leaving some extra money in your pocket.
And if you’re going out to shop on Black Friday, you’ll probably need all the cash you can get.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.