What to do with all those turkey leftovers

After a day of eating turkey, turkey, turkey and all the fixings, the Thanksgiving dinner table often still looks like nobody has eaten yet. Why is it that we always over-prepare?

So we can eat turkey leftovers for the next week of course. Good Housekeeping shares its 24 favorite recipes for leftover Thanksgiving Turkey. How does Turkey, Taco Pizza, Skillet Pot Pie, Turkey Pasta Bake or Turkey and Rice Soup sound. Click on the link for the recipes for those and 20 more turkey leftover dishes.

However, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe, is concerned about the possibility of food poisoning – and the possibility of leftover turkey contributing to the potential. In a follow up to its PSA about thawing, preparing and cooking the turkey, the USDA is sharing the following tips on the safe storage and usage of leftover turkey and side dishes.

  • Leftovers (including appetizers, side dishes, and the turkey) should be stored within two hours of cooking. Unfortunately, recent USDA research found that only half of study participants reported that they refrigerate large amounts of leftovers in multiple small containers.
    • Dividing leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerating or freezing them in covered shallow containers helps cool leftovers more quickly than storing them in large containers.
  • In a 2018 study from USDA, 76 percent of respondents said they would refrigerate leftovers after letting them cool to room temperature first. This is not necessary, and it could actually make your food unsafe. If you leave leftovers out at room temperature, they remain in the “danger zone” (40-140∞F) longer than if they go directly into the refrigerator. Food will cool down to a safe temperature faster in the refrigerator.
  • Thanksgiving leftovers are safe in the refrigerator for up to four days. This means you have until the Monday after Thanksgiving to eat them, or you can place them in the freezer to enjoy later. If you store leftovers in the freezer, they will be of best quality within 2-6 months.
    • Frozen food stays safe indefinitely, though the quality may decrease over time.
    • Reheat leftovers thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165∞F.

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