Turkey season

It is November, time to think about Thanksgiving.  Do you travel or do you do the cooking?  If you stick with a traditional turkey dinner, how do you like to cook your turkey?  With or without dressing/stuffing?  Deep fried?  Smoked?  Gravy or not?  What else to you make to go with it?

Most of the time we are visitors to my brother and sister-in-laws, unless weather prevents our making the five hours drive.  I love turkey, but with this arrangement I don’t get leftovers.  My answer is to roast a turkey before hand, typically stuffing the cavities with fresh herbs, apples, onions and garlic.  Removing the meat right away I put the drippings, carcass, bay leaves and lots of vegetable scrapings and trimmings into a large pot of water and simmer it for hours and hours to make a rich turkey broth.  Next to chicken soup, this is a fantastic way to fend off germs during the cold and flu season.

We provide the cranberry sauce and wine, easily replaced if we can’t make it across the state. Yup, lots of wine I make goes with us, and I cook the cranberries into a whole-berry jam that finds it way to toast and waffles over the course of the next few mornings when not used with leftovers.

Turkey soup from homemade turkey broth.
Making turkey broth from the pan drippings and carcass of the turkey, with all of the vegetable scrapings and clippings is the best!

Ah, leftovers: love ’em, hate ’em?  Hubby isn’t fond of them, I find them a challenge.  How to use the left over white meat before it dries out too much to enjoy.  What to do with the small pieces that inevitably cover the serving platter after carving and at the end of the meal.

There is the tried and true turkey sandwich, of course, and it does have a place of honor as a quick way to use the leftovers.  That dry meat cries out to be made into turkey salad (like chicken or tuna) with mayo and celery, also a great standby.  Use some of the broth, small turkey pieces, fresh vegetables, barley, rice or pasta to make a wonderful soup.

I try to get a bit more creative.  I am a fan of grain in my salads, high in nutrition and flavor with lots of texture hot or cold.  When you find yourself faced with the leftovers in your fridge, try this recipe.

Turkey, Kale and Buckwheat Salad

  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey meat
  • 6 cups cleaned, stem removed, torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats, dry toast in pan before cooking
  • 2 cups home-made broth
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup Craisins
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing as desired
Thanksgiving leftovers as salad
Turkey, craisins, onion, garlic, kale and cooked buckwheat groats make a flavorful salad from leftovers.

Lightly toast the buckwheat groats in a dry frying pan to bring out the best flavor; once toasted the buckwheat is referred to as Kasha and is likely available where you can purchase buckwheat groats.

As with rice, 1 cup of groats to 2 cups liquid (water or broth) to a large pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes after coming to a boil.

Once cooked, leave the remaining liquid in the pot, add your other ingredients to the hot buckwheat, tossing well. The kale wilts and everything warms, releasing aromas but not loosing crisp texture or nutrition. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a dressing as desired.

Turkey salad after Thanksgiving.
Fresh greens and buckwheat groats amp up the flavors of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in a super healthy way.

As we ramp up to the holiday season and all of the excess that comes with it, this is a nutritious, tasty meal to keep you going.  Hot or cold (leftovers of leftovers?) we enjoyed this salad; even my darling Hubby.  Pairing it with a rose’, dry white, or light red if you leave the salad naked, pair to your dressing if you use one.

Tell me about your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving left overs.


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