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Thanksgiving is over: what do I do with this food?

Now that we have feasted on all those grand, traditional Thanksgiving foods, what do we do when we look in the refrigerator and there sits that turkey- a good third of it still on the bone? For some of us, Thanksgiving night is the perfect time for a turkey sandwich with spicy mustard, a slice of mild cheese and a generous portion of good lettuce. In fact, Thanksgiving night is one of my favorite meals. Sometimes I put cranberry sauce or relish on the sandwich instead of mustard, and that’s good too.  But when there is a substantial portion of turkey left, an active imagination is called for. A favorite meal that I recall at a friend’s house featured a sort of turkey hash, with English peas, served on a cornbread muffin.  I have never quite duplicated it, but it stands in memory as one of those perfect meals, when everything came together and tasted just right.
Below is a recipe I’ve concocted for a creamed turkey dish that works well as a main course, with only a salad added to complete the meal.  Give this a try, and let me know how it goes. It might become your favorite after-Thanksgiving meal.
Creamed Turkey
3 cups chopped light and dark turkey meat (from the Thanksgiving turkey)
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plain flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups milk or half-and-half
2 tablespoons sherry (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium low heat; add flour and stir until smooth and beginning to color just a bit. Add the chicken stock, whisking until smooth. Now add the milk or half-and-half, whisking until smooth. Add the chopped turkey and the sherry, stirring until heated thoroughly. Serve over a piece of cornbread or a cornbread muffin.
The meal needs some greenery, and I know no better salad than my friend Abbie Dillard’s asparagus and artichoke hearts with feta cheese, and with a dressing she shared with me. When my daughter and I make this, we buy the amount of asparagus and artichoke hearts based on the crowd we’re anticipating (for Thanksgiving, this was five pounds of asparagus and five cans of artichoke hearts) and the dressing works well for a lesser or larger amount. Cook the asparagus briefly, so that it remains crisp. Sometimes I do this in a skillet, in water, for about 3 minutes; other times I have wrapped it in foil and cooked it in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes at 350 degrees.  Run ice water over the cooked asparagus to stop its cooking, and set aside.
Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts and Feta Cheese Salad
2 pounds asparagus, cooked briefly
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
1 4-ounce carton feta cheese
Salad Dressing:
Whisk together in a small bowl
½ cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or more if you prefer tarter dressing)
4 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons fresh chopped chives
4 teaspoons fresh minced thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried, though fresh is preferred)
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
Arrange the asparagus and artichoke hearts in an attractive pattern in a large round platter, placing ¼ of asparagus (in straight up-and-down stick fashion) at 12 o’clock, ¼ at 3 o’clock, ¼ at 6 o’clock and the remaining ¼ at 9 o’clock. Then place the artichoke hearts between the groups of asparagus, filling in the gaps. Sprinkle feta cheese over all, and then sprinkle the salad dressing, evenly coating the entire salad.  This is an excellent salad to take to a party or to prepare for your family.  It makes a lovely presentation, is healthy, and doesn’t require much cooking.  After Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try it.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net.