my thrifty kitchen

a recipe for a more resourceful kitchen

No More Turkey!

As the first full week of 2013 dawns I am pleased to report that my thrifty kitchen is, finally, a turkey-free zone. Ordering the biggest turkey you think you can squeeze into your oven seems to be as traditional as sprouts and party hats at Christmas. There’s the sense of anticipation as you head to your butcher or farm shop on Christmas Eve: how big will it be? Then the crisis when you proudly return home with your bounty: where on earth are you going to store it overnight? (Of course, it’s not going to fit in your fridge, already fit to burst with all of your other lovely Christmas goodies – smoked salmon, maybe, a selection of cheeses to make the Frenchest of fromageries proud, as well as the brandy butter for the Christmas pudding and mince pies.) And finally, the dawning realisation: just how early are you going to have to be up on Christmas morning to get it into the oven to make sure it’s cooked in time for lunch?

The excitement quickly subsides once the main event is over, and as you strip the turkey of all its meat late on Christmas night, it feels like you’re staring down the barrel of meal upon meal of leftover turkey. With this in mind, it’s no wonder it’s a once a year purchase for so many. This year we were nine for lunch, and in the best Christmas tradition we hugely over-catered with a 15 LB bird (even taking into account that we wanted some leftover meat). It was, however, a superbly economical purchase – here’s a list of the meals that one fowl contributed to:

December 25

* Christmas lunch for 9

* Christmas tea for 9

December 26

* A lunch of cold cuts and pickles for 4

* Turkey curry for 4

December 27

* A lunch of cold cuts and pickles for 3

* Turkey, leek and mushroom risotto for 2

December 30

* Turkey curry for 2

December 31

* Spicy turkey peanut stew for 2

January 2

* Turkey curry for 2

January 3

* Spicy turkey peanut stew for 2

So, out of one 15 LB turkey, we got 23 main meals and 16 lighter meals, which works out at £1.33 per serving – not bad at all for locally-reared free-range poultry. And that’s not counting the pints of stock we made out of the carcass, now waiting in the freezer to be put to use in soups, stews and risottos.

Keep an eye out over the next couple of days as I’ll be posting some of my recipes that you might find handy for using up your turkey mountain next year (and into which you can also substitute leftover roast chicken throughout the year).

Oh, and one final tip – if you really don’t enjoy turkey leftovers, resolve to try a smaller bird next year!

Note: As you can tell from the above, we were using up leftover turkey over a week after it had been cooked, and are still here to tell the tale. However, the British Turkey Information Service recommends that it’s safe to store cooked, cold turkey in the fridge for up to three days – see http://www.britishturkey.co.uk/cooking/faq.shtml. I am happy to go by the appearance, smell and taste with most foodstuffs to check whether they are still useable, but you might not want to!

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