Thanksgiving Death Wish 2: Leftover turkey meals

Googlers today are out (or in, as the case may be) in droves looking for ways to use up all that extra god-forsaken turkey.

Having spent Thanksgiving at the home of my future brother in law’s grandma, we were a family without leftovers. It was a pretty sad thing, intoxicated at 2am and starving, to not be able to make a layered stuffing and mashed potato cup, as is my yearly wont. So I ingeniously went to the local poultry farm store and bought some extra thanksgiving for my mother and I to make sandwiches.

thanksgiving in a cup

Leftovers are almost as ubiquitous as the meal itself, with recipes for Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Tetrazzini and Turkey Salad popular in the US and Turkey Curry favored by our colonialist friends across the pond. (At Christmas, of course- we’re talking general leftover turkey here.) And we all know people that “eat off” (that expression sounds so stupid but that’s how people say it) their leftovers into the middle of December. Ewww…

Given the large volume of leftover cooked turkey and the sorry state of the economy, it may be tempting to cycle turkey into meals for as long as one can- as it stands, most families are left with several pounds of the stuff. And all is not lost, as cooked turkey does freeze, and well. (But would you eat a Thanksgiving leftovers pizza?)

thanksgiving pizza

So, how long does cooked turkey keep? A website called Still Tasty (to which I was directed by my boyfriend during a bet last week involving boneless chicken thighs in the fridge- I won) has a fairly extensive database detailing how not to kill yourself eating food that’s gone off. A search for turkey-related information yielded a lot of results, and one issue to be wary of is that not all leftovers keep at the same rate. Some quick guidelines:

  • Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 days in your fridge, and you can freeze it for 2-3 months. So if you’ve still got 10 lbs of the stuff, you ought to go pick up some freezer bags;
  • Turkey stews and soups keep for the same 3-4 days in the fridge, but freezes well for 3-4 months.
  • Gravy- bin it. It keeps 1-2 days tops, and freezes for 2-3 months.
  • Potatoes of all descriptions (mashed, baked, roasted) keep for 3-5 days, and you can freeze them for 10-12 months.
  • Stuffing remains edible for 3-4 days, and you can freeze it, but only for a month.
  • Whether you make your own cranberry sauce or use a can of it, it keeps for 10-14 days in the fridge and freezes for just a month.
  • Green bean casserole should keep 3-5 days, and freeze for 10-12 months,
  • Pumpkin pie keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days, and in the freezer for 1-2 months.

The “if in doubt, throw it out” adage is useful here too, because another caveat with copious thanksgiving leftovers is that they’re less likely to be properly handled and stored than your average meal. If the turkey took a four hour road trip home with you before landing up in your fridge, you might just want to order a pizza tonight.

food poisoning