Monday, December 8, 2014

This Year's Thanksgiving Turkey (And the Deliciousness Its Leftovers Spawned)

As usual, my busy life means I'm a day (or ten) late and a dollar short when it comes to posts like this, but I wanted to record this year's adventures in turkey roasting for posterity nevertheless. I'm so proud of the wonderful Thanksgiving feast we enjoyed, especially since we didn't just completely throw caution to the calorie-conscious wind the way we usually do this time of year. If there's anything the past few months have taught us, it's that being calorie-conscious and enjoying our meals to the same extent we always have are not mutually exclusive things.

Weirdly enough, it's actually easier to stick to the program during the holidays than usual. To begin with, big meals on special occasions -- like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's -- tend to involve more homemade options. Roasted meats or fowl, roasted veggies, low-fat options. We don't use nearly as much butter, grease, or fat in our own cooking as we'd probably encounter eating out or at other people's homes. That said, it all boils down to portions usually, as well as choices. 

We're into adding flavor in other ways. For instance, behold our go-to way for infusing our bird's flash with fantastic flavor for the past two years now. Yes, we still believe in not stuffing our bird to help preserve it's moisture and inherent goodness. I also still put herbs and some butter under the skin to keep it moist and fantastic during cooking as I've detailed in another post I made a couple of years ago about how to roast the perfect turkey.

However, I also have been taking full advantage of the hypodermic needles my nurse mother has access to via the flu clinics she sometimes works out during the fall and winter. They're excellent for infusing your turkey's meat with wine, broth, butter, the bird's own cooking juices, or anything else you think would make your turkey taste fantastic. Don't have access to real hypodermic needles? Your local kitchen supply store probably sells turkey syringes that can be used to do nearly the same thing.

We also did an excellent job at making sure our leftovers were put to good use. Case in point, our Thanksgiving leftover pizza pictured above. I made one of our easy crusts like I have in regards to homemade pizzas past. Then I substituted gravy for the usual more traditional sauce options. Leftover roast turkey, red onion, cheese, and chopped parsley were then added for the toppings. 

People on Facebook went nuts over that pizza, which kind of surprised me. Nothing about it was difficult to do. We came up with it after a little creative thinking combined with our endless love for all things pizza. We've done Thanksgiving leftover quesadillas and other such concoctions that were just as good in the past. 

We also made a few oven turkey melts this year, as we've been really into low-fat soups with some toast or sandwiches for dipping. The above picture is of an oven-baked grilled cheese on sourdough filled with queso cheese, turkey, and gravy. It was served alongside a low-calorie can of New England clam chowder and it was awesome. Really, leftover anything can be successfully turned into just about anything you enjoy eating -- pizza, tacos, burgers, grilled cheese, etc. Just get creative and be adventurous. If you think something would taste good, the chances are excellent that it really will. 

We've already secured a duck to roast for Christmas and I'm already looking forward to not only the dinner itself, but all the things we'll be doing with the leftovers. Leftovers are never a drag in our house. They're always simply a jumping off point for equally epic meals!