Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Handle Thanksgiving Leftovers

From the Southern Oregon Mail-Tribune. Basically, prepare for them.

"I end up with Thanksgiving leftovers every year, only to find my enthusiasm for them faded after a couple of days. With food costs as high as they are, I want to be more thrifty this year. Do you have any tips for extending the life of leftovers?

— Barb M., Ashlan

Making the most of leftovers shouldn't mean a week of marathon eating. A freezer is the thrifty cook's friend and deserves a little pre-holiday TLC. Toss out any packaged foods that haven't been used up after a year or appear freezer-burned to make space for Thanksgiving's bounty.

Our favorite items to freeze are the turkey wings, drumsticks and the picked-over carcass for making soups and stews later. Store these pieces in freezer-safe bags and use within six months.

Cooked mashed potatoes can thicken cream soups and keep well in airtight containers in the freezer for up to a year. If reheating potatoes for a side dish, stir 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, broth or water into them and warm over medium-low. Mashed sweet potatoes can be frozen and reheated the same way.

Coincidentally, gravy is another good keeper in the freezer if used within six months and reheated gently. Cranberry sauce, too, with just thawing required.

After stuffing the freezer, look to ethnic cuisines for new flavor profiles. Use shredded turkey in tacos, enchiladas or chili. Toss turkey, as well as leftover green beans or carrots, with peanut sauce and rice noodles for pad Thai. Spice up sandwiches with a curry-flavored mayonnaise. Fill prepared wonton skins with mashed potatoes for pierogis.

Try the accompanying recipe for Turkey Spring Rolls."

Turkey Spring Rolls
2 ounces thin rice noodles or vermicelli
12 (8.5-inch) round rice-paper wrappers
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded turkey
1 cup julienned cucumber
1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro leaves
12 pieces fresh green-leaf lettuce leaves, ribs removed
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon Thai chilies, minced (optional)
3 tablespoons finely shredded carrot

Bring 6 cups water to boil. Add the rice noodles and cook until they are soft. Or cook vermicelli according to package instructions. Drain and rinse noodles with cold water to cool them.

Fill a pan with hot water. Dip 1 rice-paper wrapper into hot water to wet it. Set it on a damp towel. Rice paper should become soft and pliable immediately.

Arrange a portion of the turkey in a horizontal line at bottom third (2 1/2 inches from bottom and 1 inch from each side) of wrapper. Place a small portion of cooked rice noodles over turkey. Distribute some of the cucumber and 4 to 5 mint leaves over noodles. Place 1 of the lettuce leaves over mint leaves.

Fold bottom half of wrapper over filling while using your fingers to press down on ingredients. Fold both sides of rice paper over to enclose all ingredients.

Pressing gently on ingredients with your fingers, gently roll rice paper tightly upward to form a cylinder. Repeat these steps to make remaining rolls. Makes 12 rolls.

Rolls can be made up to 1 day before serving. Cover them tightly with plastic wrap or place in a container and refrigerate.

To make dipping sauce, in a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chilies until sugar is dissolved. Add the carrot. Add warm water as needed to dilute concentration to desired taste. Let sauce stand 30 minutes before serving. Sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store it, covered, in refrigerator.

— Recipe from Thai Kitchen Inc.


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