How to Freeze Your Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers

How to Freeze Your Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers // savvyeat.com

For the first time in five years, I’m not going to be the one making the Thanksgiving turkey this year.  I know I’ve gone on and on about how much I love coming up with the Thanksgiving menu and cooking for my family and friends in years past, but this year, I’m not going to have access to the majority of my pots and pans. Or my dishes. Or a fridge/freezer in which to store leftovers.

Why? Because we’re moving back to Minnesota at the very start of December. Apparently, I am completely incapable of just making one major life change at once, so we are taking on a cross-country move while I’m 6 months pregnant. For more evidence of my craziness, see May 2010, in which I graduated college, got married and moved from Wisconsin to New York. Most people would just do those things one at a time, but not us.

So my Thanksgiving serving dishes are already packed up and stashed in the basement, ready for the movers. I’ve pared down to just my most essential pots and pans, and boxed up the rest. And I’m now on a mission to use up everything in my pantry in the next two (!!) weeks so it doesn’t go to waste.

BUT I didn’t want to miss out on the holiday cooking fun. So I may or may not have cooked up some Thanksgiving turkey anyways…in early October. Yep.

Here’s the thing: I know a lot of you are going to have a TON of turkey left over after your big feast. We’ve already talked about what to do with the bones (hint: make turkey stock!), but what about all the extra meat? Unless you have a giant family that goes crazy for leftover sandwiches and wants to eat them day in and day out for the rest of November, you’re going to want to freeze some of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey. And good news: it is super easy to do. Here’s how.

Three Ways to Freeze Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey

For all three of these methods, make sure the turkey is cooled completely before you pack it up for freezing.

1. Diced. Remove all the meat from the bones, and dice the turkey. Place in a freezer-safe container or bag, and squeeze out as much air as possible as you seal the container. You’ll only want to keep a quarter inch or so of free space at the top, as the poultry won’t expand much. Freeze. Diced turkey will do well in soups and chills later.

2. Shredded. Same as above, but shred the meat instead. Shredded turkey will lend itself well to tacos and pasta dishes.

3. In Gravy. Shred your turkey, and pack into a freezer-safe container or bag. Pour gravy over the top of the poultry, and make sure you leave at least 1/2” empty space at the top to allow the gravy to expand as it freezes. Seal and freeze.

To use, defrost the sealed containers in the refrigerator overnight before using. If you are making a sauce or soup in the slow cooker, you can just toss the still-frozen turkey in the slow cooker as well.

Pumpkin Baked Risotto

Oven-baked pumpkin risotto is just as creamy and delicious as its stovetop counterpart, but requires far less time standing over the stove. // SavvyEat.comOven-baked risotto is just as creamy and delicious as its stovetop counterpart, but requires far less time standing over the stove.

This post contains sponsored content. All opinions are my own.

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to serve when we’re entertaining. I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t like a serving of creamy, cheesy rice with their dinner. I often dish it up as an entree and mix in some diced bacon or shredded poultry, but it also makes for a nice side.

The only downfall to risotto is the time it takes. It usually takes close to an hour to cook a big batch, and most of that time is active. You can’t walk away from risotto and let it simmer away on the stove on its own; instead, you have to stay in the kitchen with your wooden spoon, ready to stir the rice every few minutes.

While the results of all that effort are more than worth it, sometimes I want something a little simpler. When I’m entertaining, I’d much rather let the risotto cook while I prep the appetizers, dessert or a salad. And risotto made the traditional way doesn’t lend itself well to a weeknight dinner at all.

Arborio Rice for Risotto // SavvyEat.com

So today, I’m partnering with the Grain Foods Foundation to simplify the risotto-making process. I’m using the same Arborio rice, turkey stock and pumpkin puree I’d usually use for a fall risotto, but instead of standing over the stove for an hour, I’m sliding the whole pan in the oven to bake and bubble away in there.

The end result is just as creamy as its stovetop-cooked counterpart. The pumpkin still makes the risotto feel extra-cheesy, despite there only being a small amount of Parmesan stirred into the pan. Plus, now I can serve risotto with my holiday meals and still have time to prep all the other courses as well – I’ll just have the risotto in the oven and the sides on the stovetop and be able to prep the salad and drinks while everything cooks. I’d call this a win!

Pumpkin Baked Risotto // SavvyEat.com

 

Pumpkin Baked Risotto

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Pumpkin Baked Risotto

Pumpkin risotto baked in the oven is super simple to make. Now you can serve risotto with your holiday meals & have time to prep all the other courses!

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups turkey stock
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the rice, and stir until the rice is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the stock, pumpkin puree and Parmesan. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and bake at 300°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the risotto is creamy and much of the liquid is absorbed. Serve warm.
http://www.savvyeat.com/pumpkin-baked-risotto/

What’s your favorite grain-focused recipe for the holidays?

 
PS: This post was sponsored by Grains for Your Brain, which is backed by the Grain Foods Foundation. All opinions expressed here are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help me run Savvy Eats.