It’s that time of year when friends and family gather together to celebrate over a nice meal, and turkey is often the main attraction!
Turkey is known as a lean meat as it is lower in fat compared to red meats, like beef, or lamb. Turkey is also a good source of:
* Vitamin B6 – which helps regulate our metabolism
* Iron – which is required to make new blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body
* Zinc – which is needed for a properly functioning immune system and cell growth
Although it may seem challenging to use a whole turkey, turkey is very diverse! Try adding turkey to your usual meals to ensure that none of it goes to waste; add it to your:
* pasta sauces
Food Safety: Thawing and Storing your Turkey
It is important to thaw, cook and store your turkey properly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning. Below are some tips to ensure proper food safety:
* If thawing a frozen turkey, it is best to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Allow for 24 hours of defrosting time for each 5 lb (2.5 kg).
* You can also thaw your turkey under cold water. Keep the turkey in its original packaging and make sure the water is kept cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. Clean sinks and other kitchen surfaces right after thawing.
* It is best to not thaw turkeys at room temperature as it increases the chance of food contamination and bacterial growth.
* If cooking a fresh turkey, it is best to be stored for no more than 2-3 days or else it risks being unsafe to eat.
* Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 170°F at the breast and 180°F in the thigh. Be sure that the thermometer isn’t touching any bones as that skews the reading.
* Cooked turkey meat should be eaten within 3-4 days. If you have excess turkey or anticipate that you will be unable to use all the leftovers, freeze your leftovers as cooked turkey can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months!
Leftover Turkey Soup
This delicious soup offers a great way to use every piece of the turkey!
1 turkey carcass
4 quarts (~3.8L) water
6 small potatoes, diced
4 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ cup shredded cabbage
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
½ cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 pinch thyme
1. Place turkey carcass into a large pot and pour in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook the turkey frame until the remaining meat falls off the bones, approximately 1 hour. If desired, the broth can be cooked for longer for a richer flavour. Remove the turkey carcass, and remove and chop any remaining turkey meat from the pot.
2. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large clean pot. Add the chopped turkey to the strained broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, cabbage, tomatoes, barley, Worcestershire sauce, salt, parsley, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning, and thyme. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, roughly 1 hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
*Feel free to change up the vegetables and seasoning to suit your personal flavour preferences! Soup can be very forgiving and easily personalized to your flavour palate.
Turkey Noodle Casserole
An easy recipe, similar to a classic tuna casserole, but instead uses leftover turkey!
4 cups egg noodles, uncooked
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2 cups frozen peas or mixed vegetables
2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
2 tablespoons dry plain bread crumbs (if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cook egg noodles until al dente as instructed on its package. Drain the noodles.
3. Stir soup, milk, peas or mixed vegetables, turkey and noodles in a casserole dish.
4. Bake the dish for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
5. If adding the bread crumbs, stir the turkey mixture and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the dish. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.
*Feel free to replace the frozen vegetables with any of your favorites, such as corn, carrots, broccoli, or green beans.
A simple single skillet recipe, great to serve with brown or basmati rice!
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups cooked turkey, diced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1-4 teaspoons curry powder
1. Lightly coat a skillet with cooking spray; sauté celery, carrots, pepper and onion until tender.
2. In a bowl, mix ¼ cup milk and cornstarch until smooth. Add broth and remaining milk, mix until smooth.
3. Pour milk mixture over vegetables. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add turkey, garlic powder and curry powder; heat through, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve with rice if desired.
**The celery, carrots and pepper may be replaced with the vegetables of your choice, including fresh or frozen vegetables like peas, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, or sweet potato.