An argument for leftovers

Cooking for one can be a little depressing.  There are very few recipes out there that can be halved enough to make just one serving without compromising the dish.  Most of the time, it’s just easier to make the whole recipe and be stuck with leftovers.

This is why I prefer cooking the entire bird when poultry is for dinner.  It is so economical, and it is possible to eat the leftovers without feeling like you are eating the exact same meal over and over again.

Take, for instance, the Thanksgiving turkey.  A turkey is a large bird that can feed several people and still provide plenty of leftovers.  Now, after the feast you can either just continue to have turkey and gravy for the next two weeks, or you can do what I do:

  • Once the major pieces of meat have been cut off, break the turkey carcass into smaller, more manageable sizes.
  • Throw the pieces of carcass into a large pot (or several large pots, depending upon how big the turkey was).
  • Add a couple of coarsely chopped onions, carrots and celery, then cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Allow the concoction to simmer for hours, or overnight.
  • Strain out the liquid, removing all solids.
  • If there are any nice pieces of meat left on the carcass, pick them off once it is cool enough to handle.

What you are left with is pure, sodium-free turkey broth.  I can usually get almost a gallon from the average-sized fowl.  The great thing about it is that it is so versatile, filling all my broth needs, and it will freeze for months.

The pieces of meat that were picked from the boiled carcass can be saved in a plastic bag and either refrigerated or frozen.  They can be used in whatever recipe you have that calls for chicken or turkey, like stir-fry, tortilla soup, and more.

Personally, one of my favorite things to do is to make a simple soup – just broth, leftover meat and rice.  Fresh ginger and mushrooms are also a nice addition if you have them.  It is incredibly simple to make, and delightfully satisfying, especially on a cold, rainy day.  Because it is free of salt and preservatives, it is much better for you than your average canned soup.

In the spirit of recycling and conservation, I love that I can stretch one meal out for weeks, and sometimes even months.  From this year’s Thanksgiving turkey I got at least a week’s worth of “Thanksgiving Leftovers,” six bowls of turkey soup (stored in the freezer in single-serve plastic containers, ready to be heated), three sandwich bags full of pulled meat, and half a gallon of broth (also frozen in plastic containers).  All of this cost me less than twenty dollars – about the cost of one meal at a moderately-priced restaurant.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. writemeg
    Dec 01, 2008 @ 09:58:31

    Leftover turkey is pretty much the greatest! Cold, hot, on a sandwich, eaten alone . . . it’s all delicious. That soup sounds awesome!

    It was totally awesome! And I have enough to last me until I am beyond sick of it.


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