Don’t let your Thanksgiving leftovers last too long

WASHINGTON — Forget about slapping leftover turkey between two slices of bread. The days of repeat and reheat are over. Spice it up, and make everything taste different.

“You can always turn it into turkey potpie, turkey chili,” says Amphora Catering chef Carrie Westbrook. “You can make turkey with Swiss cheese and turn it into a little bit more gourmet sandwich.”

Other ideas include turning turkey into croquettes or mashed potatoes into potato leek soup.

And what about the stuffing?

“Chop it up roughly, put it in the oven, bake it off and turn it into croutons for a salad,” Westbrook says.

But don’t wait too long. According to the American Dietetic Association — assuming your food was prepared last Thursday — it probably has to go Monday.

Here are the safe eating guidelines for how long refrigerated leftovers stored in shallow containers within two hours of cooking should last:

  • Refrigerated cooked turkey: three to four days
  • Stuffing and gravy: one to two days
  • Casseroles and cooked vegetables: three to four days
  • Fruit and cream pies: two to three days

Also, you should reheat leftovers to 165 degrees before eating, and bring leftover gravy to a steady boil on the stove before serving it a second time.

The ADA says even if your leftovers look, smell or taste OK, it doesn’t mean they are. Pathogenic bacteria don’t usually affect those things and can make you really sick.

WTOP’s Debra Feinstein contributed to this report. Follow

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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