We’re back from the Thanksgiving long weekend! As well as spending quality time with family, you were probably gathered around the table stacked with dishes, one more delicious than the next. A Thanksgiving feast is a real treat, but it does have a tiny little flaw: there’s always a ton of leftovers. You don’t have to let leftovers get the best of you because we’ve got smart solutions!
A little Thanksgiving history
In Canada, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated for the first time in 1578 during an expedition led by English explorer Martin Frobisher. Frobisher encountered several storms during his trip and lost several men on his crew, so once safe and sound in America, he celebrated by organizing a feast.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal that we know today is inspired by the feast shared in 1621 between the English of Plymouth and the aboriginal people during the harvest period.
After the American Revolution, it was the exiled Americans in Canada who brought this tradition with them. It’s also because of them that we celebrate Thanksgiving in the fall because originally this day was their harvest celebration.
In Canada, it was only in 1879 that we officially established this day as a national holiday. Since January 31, 1957, Thanksgiving has been celebrated the second Monday in October, the day that the Parliament of Canada proclaimed it as a holiday as it’s a celebration of blessings that Canadians benefit from every day.
Since then, stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, grilled vegetables (beans, corn, etc.), apple pie and pumpkin spice cake have become the tradition in Canadian homes.
Nowadays, we spend Thanksgiving with family and friends around the table with satisfying comfort food!
How to properly store leftovers
First, you should know that you can’t leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours. In order to avoid bacteria growth, it’s preferable to refrigerate it as soon as it’s cooled down. Most dishes will keep for about 3 days in the fridge, but if you’re thinking of keeping them longer, freeze them.
|Cooked turkey||3-4 days||1-3 months|
|Cooked vegetables||3-4 days||2-3 months|
|Mashed potatoes||2-3 days||3 monts|
|Stuffing||3-4 days||1 months|
|Cranberry sauce||3-4 days||2-3 months|
Food that has been in the fridge or freezer for longer than the recommended period of time isn’t necessarily dangerous to eat. It will, however, be less nutritious and tasty, but you still shouldn’t risk it – if you’re not sure, don’t eat it!
There a many ways to freeze cooked food: airtight containers, plastic wrap made for the freezer, freezer bags, etc. It’s up to you to decide which is best for you!
Make sure that your container is airtight. If it isn’t, the air that circulates in your freezer could penetrate and change the look, taste and texture of your food.
A good trick is to know how much time your food is being stored. Write the day of the week on your containers when you’re putting them in the freezer. That will make it impossible to go past the recommended time!
For your side vegetables or cranberry sauce, put the leftovers in jars!
First you have to sterilize the jars and lids by boiling them for at least 10 minutes in a large pot. Check the jars properly before using. Remove ones that are chipped as they might not seal correctly! Fill the jars with your recipe and put the lids on. Let the jars cool for 24 hours.
Jars keep for more than a year in a cool, dry area if the steps for conserving were properly followed and the jars are well sealed.
How to get the most out of a turkey
Let’s finish with waste! We don’t throw out anything that can still be used. As for the turkey, we cook the meat and make a good homemade stock with the bones.
Tips for deboning turkey
Once dinner is done, it’s time to debone the turkey. Arm yourself with a carving fork and knife and take out two bowls: one for the meat, the other for the bones. Remove the thighs first, then the wings and finish with the breast.
To get as much of the meat as possible, you can’t be afraid to get dirty because the best way to do this is with your hands. You’ll see that the meat comes off the bone easily when the turkey is still warm. Use gloves so you don’t burn your fingers! And don’t be shy to ask the troops for help. With a few extra hands, you’ll get the job done in a snap!
How to make a stock
Always save your turkey or chicken bones – they make really good stock. A homemade stock has 19 times less salt than a store-bought one and it’s more economical! The idea is simple. You just have to use the bones and any other ingredient that can help boost the liquid in your stock (like veggies, herbs, etc.) and simmer for at least two hours. If you don’t use it right away, freeze it in an airtight container (for up to 3 months). With homemade stock in your freezer, you’ll always be ready to make comfort food on chilly days!
On the menu: Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink
Turkey lovers, you can rejoice because turkey meat has 1.5 times less fat than its chicken cousin! Just another good reason to reuse in our dishes. Whether in a soup, sandwich, pasta, salad or stir-fry, you’ll breathe new life into your turkey leftovers. You’ll never throw them away again with these recipes:
Reheating cooked veggie side dishes isn’t the most appealing… For Thanksgiving beans, opt instead to add them to other recipes. Here are just a few that will make last night’s beans more interesting:
Potatoes are a practical thickener for creams soups and chowders, so use up your leftover mash by putting them in. Make potato pancakes for breakfast or even a good salmon pot pie, but don’t season too much! Remember that your mashed potatoes are already seasoned, so use restraint with your dishes!
To your stuffing, add a little ground meat (or pieces of turkey) and veggies to stuff peppers, tomatoes and squash! You can also use leftover stuffing as breadcrumbs for fish filets or homemade chicken fingers. Make burgers or wraps to impress your family!
There are several ways to transform this sweet sauce: you can make salad dressings, smoothies or put them in an array of desserts! Here are a few recipes that will inspire you:
There are lots of opportunities to use leftovers in your next meal! Be creative and daring. You’ll see – there’ll be no complaints at your table! And how do you use up Thanksgiving or other holiday leftovers?