4 Go-To Turkey Recipes – and Plans for the Leftovers

4 Go-To Turkey Recipes – and Plans for the Leftovers

If this second pandemic Thanksgiving has you feeling a little rusty, do not fear. Here are four simple, no-fail ideas for turkey — and four more for leftovers. Sponsored by Shady Brook Farms® and Honeysuckle White®.

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Sponsored by Shady Brook Farms® and Honeysuckle White®.

As the holiday season starts, this year finds me feeling nostalgic and a bit ambitious. It may very well be my time to host Thanksgiving again.

To keep things manageable, I’m focusing on the two most important parts of Thanksgiving — the turkey and the leftovers. (OK, maybe the gravy, too.) The rest of the table can come together with a mix of pot luck and store bought, zhuzhed up a bit. It’s about spending your (limited) energy where it counts.

Here’s how I’m rethinking my second pandemic Thanksgiving.

1. Pick a new style. A big, stuffed roasted turkey is a classic, no doubt, but it’s not the only option. And it’s a great year to break with tradition. Smoked. BBQed. Butterflied. Fried. Or just pick the parts you like best — and do with them what you will. (Dark meat, FTW.)

2. Make more than you need. This is the enduring lesson of Thanksgiving — leftovers are what it’s all about. A whole turkey for just four people? Sure, because it means turkey sandwiches (or turkey pho, or turkey fajitas, or turkey pizza) for days.

3. Honor the tradition of being together. Now, more than ever, we need moments that bring us together, and to break up the monotony. Holidays do just that. It doesn’t actually take much to make Thanksgiving meaningful. Focus on one or two details (turkey! leftovers!) and the rest will come together, promise.

Turkey + Leftovers = Holiday Magic

With your mind focused on a great turkey recipe, and one tantalizing leftover dish, everything falls into place. Check out these four pairings.

Lemon Garlic and Herb Butter Rubbed Smoked Turkey

There’s nothing quite like the flavor of a smoked turkey, which manages to be both on-brand for Thanksgiving and appropriate the other 364 days of the year, too. Here, there is no shortage of butter, which, as we know, makes everything better. Rub the turkey with seasoned butter the day before. On the big day, smoke the bird at 250°F for around seven hours, basting with more butter all the while. The result? Perfection.

Smoked Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Smoked turkey means smoked turkey leftovers. And smoked turkey leftovers are just what you need for this delicious hash recipe. Start with bacon, of course. Add diced red and green peppers, plus some onions and sweet potatoes. Then, minced garlic, thyme and — surprise! — cranberries. The result is a winning breakfast (or, let's be honest, midday) hash that’s great on it’s own and even better with two eggs, your style.

Quick Butterflied Roast Turkey

Yummly Original

This Yummly original recipe created by David Bonom is a no-brainer. It’s everything a classic roast turkey should be, but even easier — and with less worry about the bird being evenly cooked. That’s what makes butterflying the bird worth the extra steps. Olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and thyme keep things simple and tasty. 

Turkey Benedict

Black Friday breakfast should be hearty — and this cornbread-based, turkey Benedict, with its slightly Southern vibes, surely fits the bill. The recipe, from Shady Brook Farms, calls for turkey breast meat —  but any cut will do.  And the only trick here is the hollandaise, really.

Classic Fried Turkey

One does not just fry a turkey. It takes some pre-planning and safety precautions. But boy, is it worth it. In this fried turkey recipe from Taste of the South Magazine, the fryer goes outside, away from the home. They recommend closed-toe shoes, heat-proof mitts, protective eyewear — and a fire extinguisher “just in case.” Once you’re prepped, though, it only takes about 30 minutes to fry the average bird in 300°F peanut oil. And the results are as you’d expect: delectable.

Thanksgiving Sandwich

The extra crispy skin of a fried turkey takes your standard Thanksgiving sandwich to the next level — as it does in this recipe, from High Heels and Grills. As written, it calls for deli meat, but you have something so, so much better on hand. This recipe — a riff on The Pilgrim, a sandwich made by Great Harvest in Logan, Utah — brings in the to-be-expected holiday flavors (turkey, stuffing) as well as classic sandwich standbys like fresh tomato and crisp red onion. The secret sauce? A blend of cream cheese, spicy mustard and cranberry sauce.

Butter Basted Turkey Legs and Thighs with Fresh Herbs

Let’s not beat around the bush here — it’s all about the dark meat for me. So this slightly non-traditional take on turkey, from Lord Byron’s Kitchen, is more than welcome. The butter keeps the legs and thighs super moist, and the heavy hand with the herbs means they are full of flavor. Make twice as much as you think you need, because...

Turkey Tetrazzini

Tetrazzini is just better with dark meat. Fight me. This well-loved recipe from The Pioneer Woman is not for the faint of heart. There’s cream cheese. There’s Monterrey Jack and Parmesan. There’s bacon for goodness’ sake. I think I look forward to turkey tetrazzini even more than the Thanksgiving meal itself. It’s the perfect day-after decadence.