Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Part 2- Leftovers

Wise turkey and ham purchases
    Beginning in November, my husband cannot resist purchasing as many turkeys and hams as financially possible.  They are priced the lowest this time of year and provide a welcome meal for our large family throughout the winter and spring months.  Most of our turkeys are purchased during November and our hams are purchased in December.  I also make it a point to purchase any turkey gravy packets I can find (especially on sale), since they are harder to find during the other times of the year and a turkey dinner at our house requires mashed potatoes and gravy!  Although I almost always incorporate the turkey drippings into the gravy, I often use packets to multiply the amount and intensify its flavor.  What a comfort when an outside freezer is stocked and ready.  I can't tell you how many times I have wandered out to the freezer when the budget was too tight for shopping only to find a ham or turkey hiding in there!  Only the Lord can provide a feast during times of financial famine, so we take advantage of the opportunities He grants us.

Share the fryer!
    This year, we had a large family from our church spend Thanksgiving with us.  It is our practice for me to roast one of the two turkeys in the oven while my husband deep fries the other in the backyard.  Since the fryer is already going anyway, and peanut oil is expensive, our guests brought a thawed out turkey of their own (with a turkey pan) so theirs could fry for take-home while we ate. After their turkey was finished, we simply placed it in their turkey pan and covered it with foil. They went home later that night with a freshly, deep-fried turkey of their own!
Christmas Day Breakfast - Utilize those leftovers!
      On Christmas Day, we had several mouths to feed for breakfast.  Since my husband, children, and I would be leaving at noon for James Island, we needed to keep it simple.  My brother's wife, Regina, brings the most fantastic potato casserole I have ever had.  She makes it every year and it is a favorite with everyone.  She actually pushes peeled, baked potatoes through a ricer before adding more ingredients such as cheese, sour cream, and bacon.  Since she makes two casseroles, we saved the other one for breakfast the next day.  I popped it into the oven in the morning, and then topped each person's pile of yumminess with a fried egg.  We also had leftover pancakes and sausage links made by my brother-in-law, Brad from the day before (we lovingly call his masterpieces "Bradcakes").  Brad always seems to have a new variety of pancake to share. This year he added white vinegar to his batter to add an "angel food cake" like fluffiness to this year's special breakfast.  As always, they tasted amazing and were as big as your face!

Turkey Leftover Option 1
     Unfortunately, few of the twenty-five guests with whom we celebrated Christmas are fans of the turkey's dark meat.  I almost always end up with a pile of wings, legs and thighs from two large birds. When we visit my in-laws on Christmas day, they also often send us home with leftovers.
     This year, while my immediate family visited the in-laws on James Island, my sister and brother-in-law hosted my extended family here at our home Christmas Day.  The folks who didn't need to spend the night drove back over for a large lunch and some more family time.  My brother-in-law, Brad and I had gone shopping to pick up dinner rolls, mayo, etc. for the turkey sandwiches ahead of time and all the leftovers were pulled out again.  By the time Scott, the kids, and I had returned, most of the leftovers had been consumed except for that stubborn dark turkey meat. This had also happened after Thanksgiving.  Our Thanksgiving leftover tradition is to make and freeze several turkey pot pies.  See our link for them from last year here.

ham picture via google

More Ham and Turkey Leftover Ideas
      When I bake a ham, I always add a cup of water to the bottom of my roasting pan before adding the ham for baking.  This allows the drippings to pour more easily into a container after baking for freezing.  Later, I'll scrape the white fat off the top and use the frozen drippings in soup (along with the ham bone). Without the water, your yummy drippings are more likely to caramelize and stick to the pan, making them unusable.
     After Christmas, Scott and I work together to make one of his favorites:  ham salad (and our new addition, turkey salad). Scott prepares the leftover meat by cutting it into grinder-sized chunks. For turkey salad, he carefully pulls all the meat off the leg, thigh and wing bones. I gather it as he works and run the grinder at the same time. Soon, we have two large bowls of ground leftover meat. If you don't care for ham or turkey salad, you can freeze this ground meat in labeled bags and add it to casseroles.
     Scott's mom used to make ham salad for her family all the time and I quickly learned this simple recipe soon after we were married.  If you haven't invested in a meat grinder, I highly recommend purchasing one. Don't let them intimidate you. They are very easy and even fun to use! The one I currently use was given to me by my mother-in-law and may be as old as I am.

Ham Salad recipe
Leftover ham or turkey
large jar of pickles

Grind your leftover ham or turkey in the meat grinder into a large bowl.  Into another bowl, grind a jar of pickles.  Drain the ground pickles in a strainer and mix well into the ham.  If you think you would like more pickles, grind some more!  It is important to drain the pickles because the ham is already so salty it will simply be too much salt.  When making this with turkey, I still drain the pickles, but sometimes actually add some pickle juice after the mayo to salt it up a bit and add some moisture if needed.  Finally, mix in your favorite mayo until it looks the way you like it. Taste it as you go to monitor the salt. Soon, you will have a tasty sandwich spread for dinner rolls or white bread.  My family loves these sandwiches with a side of chips, and my dark turkey meat is not wasted!  You could also mix the turkey and ham together and make one big salad, but my oldest daughter, Hayden, (a ham salad purest) begged us not to.

So when then they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."  Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  
John 6:12-13


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