Holiday Magazine: The gift of holiday leftovers

There are a few guarantees when it comes to Thanksgiving. Someone will break etiquette by ignoring the unwritten “no politics at the dinner table” injunction. There will be a friendly but spirited battle over the remote between football fans and those itching to watch the Twilight Zone marathon. And there will be leftovers.

There is nothing wrong with a turkey sandwich and a side of mashed potatoes, but there are more creative ways to employ an excess of holiday foods.

How about a turkey salad? Just toss shredded turkey, chopped pecans and some soft cheese—bleu or goat, depending on your preference—on a bed of salad greens. Then sprinkle the concoction with some cranberry vinaigrette, pulled from the Craving Chronicles website. Here’s the recipe: 1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce, homemade or canned; 3 tablespoons orange juice, fresh or refrigerated; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. 

Turkey pizza, anyone? Just ladle barbecue sauce on pizza dough or a Boboli-style pizza crust, then add mozzarella cheese, shredded turkey and purple onions. Bake and enjoy.

How creative can you get with leftovers? A small coterie of COURIER staffers recently gathered to find out, testing out a handful of recipes: mashed potato pancakes; turkey chilaquiles; phyllo-wrapped, cranberry sauce-stuffed baked brie and a turkey broccoli casserole. The result was a fabulous feast, sure to enliven your post-holiday slump.

We’re delighted to share our culinary discoveries with you, but first things first. Let’s talk turkey. How long are leftovers safe to eat? Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katerine Zeratsky offers an easy rule of thumb on the Mayo Clinic website ( od-safety/AN01095).

Ms. Zeratsky urges you to refrigerate leftovers, particularly those containing meat, poultry, dairy or eggs, as soon as possible. Don’t let the time any foods sit out exceed more than 2 hours at typical room temperature, she advises. It’s all about avoiding what she deems the “danger zone”—bacteria-friendly temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Refrigerated leftovers can be safely consumed for 3 to 4 days, Ms. Zeratsky says. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them that quickly, she adds, freeze them immediately. Leftovers should be cooked at temperatures reaching 165 F. If you’re ever unsure about whether leftover food is good or bad, the nutritionist says its best to err on the side of caution, following the old adage, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Now that you know how to keep your leftovers safe, let’s talk about how to make them savory. Bon appétit!

—Sarah Torribio


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