Tips to love your Thanksgiving leftovers
The holidays mean leftovers galore. Overwhelmed by the packed fridge and tired of eating the same turkey sandwich over and over? This season love your leftovers by thinking outside the kitchen and firing up the grill to add flavor and fun to your leftover turkey, stuffing, casseroles and pie.
“Each year, 14 percent of grill owners cook all or part of their Thanksgiving meals on the grill or smoker,” says Emily McGee, Director, Communications, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). “This year take it a step further and give your leftovers a second life by reheating them on the grill or smoker.”
“Turkey is the highlight of any Thanksgiving meal, and the leftovers can be just as exciting,” says Beth Breeding, National Turkey Federation. “Whether you’re cooking your Thanksgiving turkey or using up leftovers, the grill is a great place to try turkey. Turkey’s versatility allows this lean protein to soak up flavor. Fire up the grill and turn your leftovers into an entirely new meal. A quesadilla, pizza, grilled cheese or even a grilled salad – use your leftover turkey to serve up something unexpected.”
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association and National Turkey Federation share expert tips on grilling your holiday leftovers each day of Thanksgiving weekend:
• Friday, Layer Your Leftovers. “Grab a cast iron pan. Put a layer of mashed potatoes down, then turkey and green beans. Smother that with gravy. Top that off with more mashed potatoes and put it in your favorite bbq cooker. Let it get back up to temp and enjoy your ‘Shepherd’s pie.'” – Mikey Kay, Man Meat BBQ
• Saturday Lunch, Make a Pot Pie. “Leftover turkey provides the perfect opportunity for a grilled turkey pot pie. Make a hearty broth with cream of mushroom soup, sautéed mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions), steamed cubed potatoes, green peas and chunks of leftover smoked turkey. Put the filling in a heavy grill-proof pan (like a cast iron frying pan) and top with drop biscuits, puff pastry or pie dough. Bake in your grill for about 30 minutes at 400*. Serve hot!” – Adam McKenzie, This Jew Can Que
• Saturday Night, Roll an Eggroll: Make your first leftover meal one with a bite. “Thanksgiving eggrolls are one of my favorite ways to use those tasty leftovers. Rough chop leftover turkey, ham, green beans and corn and combine with gravy for a filling. Wet all four edges of an eggroll wrapper. Fill with filling and roll into an eggroll. Deep fry with your grill until golden brown. Use the cranberry sauce as a dipping sauce.” – Craig Tabor, Big Green Craig
• Sunday, Have a Fiesta. “Come Sunday, your family is likely tired of Thanksgiving flavors, but you probably still have turkey in your fridge. Turn those into turkey enchiladas. Shred the turkey, and combine with fresh-diced onions, a can of green chilis and Monterey jack cheese. Roll the meat into tortillas and place in a cast iron skillet. Cover with green enchilada sauce and more cheese. Bake at 400* grill over indirect heat, until the cheese is golden and bubbly.” – Christie Vanover, Girls Can Grill
• Sunday Night, Pack Away. “Leftovers are only safe in the fridge for three days, so if you haven’t used all your leftovers yet, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life. Tightly package leftovers in freezer-safe containers and store for three to four months. When you are ready to grill your frozen leftovers, there are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave. Never thaw frozen leftovers at room temperature. Freezing and reheating leftovers is a great way to keep the holiday going all winter long.” – Shelley Feist, Partnership for Food Safety Education, originator of science-based food safety messages
For more information on grilling for Thanksgiving and all year long, visit http://www.hpba.org. For more great turkey recipe ideas, visit http://www.serveturkey.org.