Turkey leftovers? Not for long

You can unbutton your pants now.

The last drop of the gravy has been mopped up, the picked-over turkey frame is simmering on the stove top to make broth for soup, and all that's left of the pumpkin pie you slaved over (from scratch -- whew!) are a few delectable crumbs on Grandma's cut-glass cake stand. Yet no rest for the weary.

Time to figure out what you're going to do with the leftover turkey.

Because surely you have at least a few slices of meat that didn't make their way down someone's chute, what with everything your dinner guests had to choose from on the holiday table. And delicious as it might be to stuff it between a couple of slices of bread slathered with mayo, or turn it with egg noodles and cheese into tetrazzini, you -- we -- can do better.

I'm as guilty as the next cook, making the same dish out of the "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" the day after Thanksgiving, year after year: turkey a la king over homemade biscuits. I like to kid myself that's because it's the only way I can get my kids to willingly eat peas. But really, it's just because I'm too lazy to look for something different, too comfortable with the same-old, same-old to stretch my family's tastebuds in a different direction.

Not this year.

A quick page through some of the season's new cookbooks turned up tons of fresh ideas for leftover turkey. And the best part is, they're not just for dinner. Cubed and added to fried potatoes and cooked diced pepper, for example, turkey makes a terrific breakfast hash. It's also delicious stuffed in a taco and tossed in a salad.

Hmm. I'm already thinking the remains of one bird might not be enough.

Leftover turkey hash

PG tested

Eight cups of turkey seemed like a lot of leftovers, so I halved this recipe. Up the amount of cayenne if you like things spicy.

-- Gretchen McKay

  • 2 small russet potatoes (about 11 ounces)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium red, yellow and green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup each)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 8 cups cooked turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place potatoes in small saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are barely tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature; peel and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add peppers, onion and celery; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and cayenne. Continue cooking, uncovered, until vegetables are lightly golden and tender, about 3 minutes longer. Remove vegetables from skillet. Increase heat to high; melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add potatoes and cook until golden brown. Reduce heat to medium; add turkey and reserved vegetables. Cook until turkey is heated through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

-- "Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden" by Bradley Ogden with Lydia Scott (Running Press, 2011, $30)

Radicchio, arugula and frisee salad with roasted turkey

PG tested

Those who feel like cutting calories the day after Thanksgiving often turn to salad. This one pairs leftover turkey with three types of lettuce dressed in a light and zingy vinaigrette.

-- Gretchen McKay

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • For salad
  • 3/4 raw almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup cubed roasted turkey breast
  • 4 cups torn radicchio, or 4 heads Belgian endive, leaves separated, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups frisee, torn if leaves are large
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 10 ounces feta cheese

Make vinaigrette by combining shallots, lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to marinate the shallots. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Whisk in salt and pepper, then whisk in mustard. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt if necessary. You should have about 3/4 cup. Use immediately, or transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

For salad, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, place in oven and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until nuts take on color and are fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Let almonds cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Place turkey in a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss to coat. Allow turkey to marinate for a few minutes.

Add radicchio, frisee and arugula to the bowl with turkey. Drizzle 1/2 cup vinaigrette over salad and toss gently with your hands to coat the leaves evenly. Sprinkle with salt and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add more vinaigrette, a squeeze of lemon juice, or salt if needed. Reserve any vinaigrette for another use.

Pile salad on a large platter or divide among individual plates. Crumble feta over the top and serve right away.

Serves 4.

-- "The Macy's Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook" (Book Kitchen, Oct. 2011, $24.95)

Turkey and chutney sandwich

PG tested

Good food is so hard to find on airplanes that it made the news when celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson announced earlier this fall that he had created a deluxe smoked turkey sandwich for passengers traveling on American Airlines. We weren't able to track down Chef Samuelsson's exact recipe from the "New American Table" menu, but we believe this is pretty darn close, especially if you serve it AA-style with a bag of Miss Vickie's chips.

-- Gretchen McKay

  • 4 slices multi-grain artisan bread
  • 4 tablespoons Cranberry, Apple and Ginger Chutney (recipe below) or leftover cranberry sauce
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced roast turkey breast
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves

Spread chutney evenly on 2 pieces of bread. Divide turkey among slices, and then top each with apple slices and a lettuce leaf. Top with remaining slice of bread, and cut in half.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Cranberry, Apple and Ginger Chutney

PG tested

  • 10- to 16-ounce bag fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 2 crisp red apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1-inch thick
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until softened, reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool fully before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

-- Dave Lieberman, Food Network

Curried Turkey Casserole

PG tested

  • Curry powder reinvents this traditional turkey-leftover dish.
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 1/2 cups broccoli florets (from 1 bunch)
  • 4 cups cooked turkey, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3 cups day-old bread, diced medium

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium pot, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until slightly softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk 1 minute. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce comes to a simmer. Stir in curry powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add broccoli and cook just until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Stir in cooked turkey. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl, toss bread with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, melted, until coated. Top turkey mixture with bread and bake until sauce is bubbling and bread is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serves 6.

-- Marthastewart.com

Southwest Turkey Tacos with Spicy Corn Salsa

PG tested

For salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, canned drained or frozen thawed whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 medium fresh serrano pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
  • Black pepper, to taste
For tacos
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded leftover cooked turkey
  • Chipotle pepper powder
  • 12 (6- to 7-inch ) corn tortillas

Shredded lettuce and sour cream for garnish

Heat dry corn in a nonstick pan (without oil) on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted. Combine remaining salsa ingredients in a bowl and add corn. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet on medium-high. Add leftover turkey and saute 4 to 5 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in additional chipotle pepper powder to taste. In a separate skillet, warm tortillas for about 1 minute per side or until heated through. Keep warm.

Fold each tortilla in half to form a "shell." Add shredded lettuce, 1/4 cup turkey and 1/4 cup corn salsa to each shell. Top with sour cream. Serves 6.

-- Butterball.com

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1419.


Hot Topic