Leftover Turkey: Beyond the Sandwich

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Following the Thanksgiving feast, many hosts will likely be left with a glut of turkey.

This can be a good thing — turkey sandwiches with mayo, stuffing and cranberry sauce are quite delicious for a day or so. But by Saturday, many of us tire of the same preparation, and look to diversify — or chuck — the surplus.

We can’t abide that type of waste, so today let’s look at some different ways to use the leftover bird, which pull from various cuisines and culinary traditions.

Turkey Jambalaya

Serves eight to 10

Turkey sausage jambalaya | Seagull_l/Thinkstock

Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you. This is a simple recipe and a time-tested crowd pleaser.

2 cups long grain white rice

5 cups chicken or turkey stock (see box for recipe)

1 pound smoked turkey sausage

1 pound smoked turkey

4 cups chopped, cooked turkey

½ stick margarine

¾ cup chopped bell pepper

¼ cup chopped parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Tabasco sauce to taste

Cook the rice in the stock until the liquid is absorbed.

While the rice cooks, melt the margarine in the Dutch oven and sauté the smoked turkey sausage and smoked turkey with onion, pepper, garlic and parsley. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the rice, and cook several minutes more.

Add the cooked rice, stir well and cook another 15 minutes.

Mexican Turkey Soup

Serves four to six

This recipe was inspired by albondigas soup, a Mexican meatball soup. I created this version that swaps cooked turkey for the meatballs. It’s far less work, quite a bit lighter and equally delicious. Serve it with guacamole and chips or warm tortillas. You can add any vegetables you like: zucchini, beans, spinach, greens, or whatever you have on hand and leftover.

1 tablespoon oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

6 cups turkey or chicken stock

1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped turkey

1 cup cooked rice

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until softened, about five minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the flavors blend.

Add the turkey and rice, and cook for another 20 minutes.

Turkey Risotto

Serves four

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Arborio rice

4 cups turkey or chicken broth, kept at a simmer

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup chopped, cooked turkey

Fresh or dried herbs of your choice: oregano, parsley, basil

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Lower the heat and keep the broth at a simmer.

In a larger saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. If you’re using dried herbs, add them now; if using fresh herbs, hold them until just before serving.

Stir until the onion softens, about five minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat it. When the rice is glossy, add a cup of hot broth and stir constantly until it is absorbed.

When the broth is absorbed, add another cup. When the second cup is absorbed, add ½ cup more broth.

Repeat, adding half-cup portions until all the broth is gone and the rice is creamy, approximately 30 minutes.

Add the cooked turkey, and stir to integrate. Note: If after 30 minutes the rice is not done, bring additional broth or water to a boil and add in ¼-cup increments, stirring until each portion is absorbed, and check rice for doneness. Add chopped fresh herbs, if using, and serve.

Turkey Stock

Turkey stock is just as useful in the kitchen as chicken or vegetable stock, and you can make an awful lot of it with the giant bird you have left from Thanksgiving. Make a large pot, freeze it in pint or quart portions, and pull it out for the next several months to punch up the flavor in everything you make from soups, braises and sauces to grains and vegetables.

Makes about 1½ gallons

1 turkey carcass with all drippings, bones, skin, gravy, etc.

2 onions, coarsely chopped

6 carrots, coarsely chopped

6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

1 bunch fresh parsley

½ bunch fresh dill

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 cup white wine

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot.

Cover the ingredients with water and bring it to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for two hours.

Taste the stock and adjust the seasoning.

Strain and use or freeze as desired.

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