We had Thanksgiving dinner very early Tuesday because of a work schedule. I roasted a 5 pound chicken, did the traditional dressing, yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls. I’d baked the rolls Monday. The leftovers progressed through stages to finish late today in a cream sauce baked with pasta.
The chicken was picked off the bones, part was frozen and the rest reheated in a cream sauce. I’d saved the chicken fat and the chicken ‘jelly’. It only takes a little chicken fat to make a big difference in flavor. It can be added to soups, casseroles and anything where you use boneless and skinless chicken or turkey.
Leftovers present both challenges and opportunities. Stuffing can be fried, reheated in the oven or microwave or covered with this cream sauce. Sweet potatoes and yams are good reheated but don’t do well in other uses unless you mash them into a quick bread reipe. Rolls can be frozen until another time or if they become stale turned into French toast. Leftover mashed potatoes can be made into patties with sliced onions and fried in butter for breakfast.
This year I resisted the urge (I hear my Mother yelling not to waste anything in my head) to boil the bones and make soup. I can still use some of the frozen chicken for soup later so it doesn’t matter. I didn’t think twice when I tossed out the bones this year.
The casserole will serve 4 to 6. Serve with leftover yams, cranberry sauce and rolls.
Chicken or Turkey Leftovers Casserole
- 2 tablespoons of chicken or turkey fat
- 2 tablespoons of chicken or turkey ‘jelly’
- 3 to 4 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of dry chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 1 ½ cups of chicken or turkey, chopped
- 1 ½ cup frozen mixed vegetables (you can use the same amount of fresh celery, onion, peas and carrots)
- 1 cup of tap water mixed with ½ cup flour (slurry)
- 8 oz. of spaghetti, noodles or other pasya, cooked
Remove the pan and the bird from the refrigerator. Remove the bird. Pull out the celery and onion that the bird sat on in the roasting pan and toss out. Remove the hardened chicken or turkey fat and the liquid that formed into a ‘jelly’. Put 2 tablespoons each of the fat and ‘jelly’ into a Dutch oven. Put the rest in a jar or other container and keep in the refrigerator or freezer for future use.
Remove all the meat from the bones. Throw out the bones, skin and other parts you don’t intend using. Wrap or bag the meat and freeze. Keep out about 1 ½ cups or so of the meat for the creamed mixture and the casserole.
Heat the fat and ‘jelly’ in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the water, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. At this point decide if you want any other seasonings such as poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, thyme or tarragon. If so add a teaspoon or so. Heat until the mixture boils.
Stir in the chopped poultry and the frozen or fresh vegetables. Bring the mixture back to a boil and then lower the heat when the vegetables are tender. Simmer about 20 to 30 minutes.
Mix the tap water and flour together in a small bowl until perfectly smooth. Use a whisk or a fork. While stirring the mixture in the pan slowly pour in the flour and water slurry. Stirring constantly bring the mixture back to a boil. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes or until as thick as you desire. Remove from the heat.
At this stage the creamed mixture can be served over toast, biscuits, rolls, dressing, potatoes (very good over baked or boiled potatoes), buttered noodles or rice. The next day you can use the leftover creamed mixture to make the casserole.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and have a casserole dish ready. I used a Pyrex rectangular baking dish about 10 inches by 13 inches.
Cook the spaghetti, noodles or pasta of your choice in boiling salted water until it is almost done. Remove the pasta from the boiling water using a spaghetti tool or thongs. Put the pasta directly into the pan containing the creamed mixture. Add about ½ cup of the water you cooked the pasta in to the pasta and creamed mixture. Stir together well and pour into the casserole. Level the mixture in the casserole and cover the top with grated cheese or buttered crumbs.
Bake the casserole for 45 minutes covered with a lid or foil and 5 minutes or so uncovered to brown the topping. Remove the casserole from oven and allow it to sit for a few minutes before serving.
The chicken was roasted on top of celery ribs and thick slices of onion. It was basted often with butter. The liquid from it was full of flavor. To make up for the celery and onion flavor you can add some minced onion and celery salt or a small amount of celery seed to the creamed mixture.
The cream mixture should be very thick, almost stand a spoon upright thick.
Any vegetables can be used. If you made savory vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner and have any left they can be mixed in.
The same creamed mixture of poultry and vegetables can be turned into a meat pie. Use your favorite pie pastry recipe and make a bottom and top crust. Cut slits in the top crust and bake at 425 degrees F. until the filling is boiling hot and the crust has browned.
The creamed mixture can be put hot into a casserole and biscuit dough put on top. It must be very hot or the bottom of the biscuits will not bake. Either roll out the dough large enough to cover the top of the pan or cut out biscuits and place them on top. Bake at 425 degrees F until the biscuits are browned on top.