Yes, that leftover Thanksgiving turkey, carcass and all, is going to be staring you in the face on Thursday night. Do you know the best way to take it apart and store it? Or do you just loosely drape some plastic wrap or foil on top, shove it into the fridge, and plan to deal with it another time?
Let's walk through the best ways to take apart and store your leftover turkey!
1. Have a game plan.
The first thing you have to ask yourself, before you even touch the turkey, is what you plan to do with it. Does everyone just pick the meat off for sandwiches? Do you want to make soup or stock with the bones? Do you want to save some of the meat for a future recipe? Think this through, as your plans for the leftover turkey will dictate how you take it apart.
2. Don't wait! Take it apart right after dinner.
You're probably in a post-dinner food coma when the meal ends, but just take care of this now, or better yet, find a willing helper who can do it. You probably already have a cutting board and carving knife out that has turkey bits on it anyway, so if you take apart the turkey now, you only have to wash everything once.
Taking it apart also means it will take up less space in your refrigerator. If the carcass is too big to fit into your stockpot, break it apart into more manageable pieces.
3. Pack bones and meat separately.
Once the meat is picked off the bones, package it up. If you want to set aside one pound of meat for soup, weigh it out, throw it into a container, and label it so no one accidentally turns it into a sandwich. Package up white meat and dark meat separately so people can easily find what they want, and you can even pre-slice the turkey if the, ahem, lazier of the hungry guests will only eat it if it's already cut up. Store in the fridge or freezer, but make sure it's properly labeled first.
4. Make stock while you wash the dishes.
As for the bones, just turn it into stock now! You probably have extra carrots, onion, celery, and herbs, so just simmer it now and get it over with. Or bundle it into the slow cooker for an overnight simmer, or into the pressure cooker for an extra-fast, extra-good stock.
Not up to the task? Pack the bones away and stash in the fridge or freezer.
5. Find a few recipes and make a plan.
If the thought of another turkey sandwich isn't appealing to you, there are plenty of other delicious ways to use it up. I love making turkey hash patties; turkey congee, with the bones and some meat; and turkey pot pie filling, which holds up quite well in the freezer.
(Image credits: Christine Gallary; Nealey Dozier)