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How to Use a Whole Turkey to Make Many Meals

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When the choice is between picking up a package of sliced turkey and carting home a whole bird to cook yourself, the cold cuts are clearly more convenient. But if you’re looking get the most meals for the least money, then purchasing a whole turkey is the hands-down winner. Better yet, if you buy around the holidays, grocery store specials will save you even more. That’s a choice your dinner table and your wallet will like.

You have a ton of options for using the whole turkey — Eating Well, an expert source for healthful cooking, lists nine turkey recipes you could try. But to use the whole turkey effectively, here are tips for preparation and storage:

Roast It

When you get your whole turkey home, you can thaw and roast it in the oven, as in your basic Thanksgiving roast turkey.

Once the turkey is roasted, remove as much meat as you can from the bones. Store the meat in the refrigerator, adding drippings from the roast pan to help keep the meat moist. You must use the cooked meat within a week.

Make Soup Stock

Use a sharp knife to break up the remaining carcass. Place the bones in a large soup pot and cover with water. You can add chopped vegetables or vegetable scraps to the pot, such as onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots, for a richer flavor. Thyme, pepper, salt, and bay leaves are also flavorful additions.

Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the stock simmer for about two hours. Reserve the liquid and throw away the bones and vegetables. Store the stock in the refrigerator or freezer. Note that most recipes call for between two and four cups of stock, so use appropriately sized containers. Refrigerated stock will last about a week, while frozen stock lasts about two to three months.

Plan Your Menu

Because you need to use the turkey meat within seven days, it helps to plan the week’s menu. You can estimate getting four or five meals from your turkey.

Classic dishes include sandwiches with sliced turkey breast, turkey pot pie, turkey tetrazzini, and, of course, turkey soup with your already-made stock. You can also try more unusual dishes such as turkey samosas, turkey enchiladas, and turkey hash browns with fried eggs.

Don’t Want to Roast a Whole Turkey? Freeze It Instead

Instead of roasting, you can break the thawed bird down and freeze the parts to use. Frozen uncooked meat is good for about a year. You can use frozen meat as you would roasted meat. Fricasseed legs and thighs are particularly good, as are teriyaki turkey wings.

The beauty of using the whole turkey is that one purchase can be the base for many meals, which helps you make delicious food without busting the grocery budget.

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