Turkey Dilemma, or, Is There More To Life Than Sandwiches?

Thanks to Reesa’s mother, Mad Gastronomer, and Alton Brown, I can now consistantly get a turkey roasted the way I like it.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately.  Roast turkey for a day, then turkey sandwitches for a week, by which time the soup is ready.

My question: It seems like there should be something fun to do with all of that roast turkey meat that I’ve just been using for sandwitches.  Suggestions?

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0 thoughts on “Turkey Dilemma, or, Is There More To Life Than Sandwiches?”

  1. Cooks illustrated has a nice white chicken chili that’s pretty tasty.

    3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves , trimmed of excess fat and skin
    Table salt and ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    3 medium jalapeño chiles
    3 poblano chiles (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
    3 Anaheim chile peppers (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
    2 medium onions , cut into large pieces (2 cups)
    6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
    2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
    3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
    1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
    4 scallions , white and light green parts sliced thin [more…]

  2. 1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

    2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños; mince flesh. In food processor, process half of poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions until consistency of chunky salsa, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of workbowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor blade or workbowl).

    3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapeños, chile-onion mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

    4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now-empty food processor workbowl. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees (175 degrees if using thighs) on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using thighs).

    5. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

    6. Mince remaining jalapeño, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds (see note above), and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and remaining minced jalapeño (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

    (Substitute turkey for chicken)

  3. Turkey Tetrazzini.

    I don’t really have a definite recipe for it, I kind of just throw it together. I make a cream sauce and add mushrooms, parmesan, and the turkey to it. Then I mix it with some cooked pasta (I like thin spaghetti the best), top it with parmesan and bread crumbs, and bake it until it’s bubbly.

  4. We’ve always cut excess turkey into largish slices then used it like a tortilla, wrapping it around a dollop of stuffing (esp. good with a moist bread and sage stuffing), or spread it with queso then wrap it around a pepper, or make turkey sushi using spanish rice cooked with just enough cheese to hold it together.

    It can also be used as the base of a good breakfast – turkey topped with mashed or hashed brown potatoes and a poached egg on top with hot butter drizzled over it all.

  5. Alton Brown rocks the science of cooking! He’s my favorite, so points to you! (You’ve been brining, haven’t you?:) As for turkey leftovers:

    Salad (as mentioned)
    Quiche or omelets
    Tacos, etc. (season turkey meat to taste)

    Alton Brown has a number of Turkey recipes over at foodtv.com. Search for Turkey, then limit the search to Alton Brown. A couple I’d suggest:

    Turkey Re-Hash
    Bird to the Last Drop
    Turkey Piccata

    I wish you Good Eats, and look forward to one day tasting the rewards of your turkey endeavors!

  6. Turkey nachos are great: your preferred cheese (grated), finely-chopped hot peppers, finely-chopped green&red sweet peppers, and chopped turkey — all tossed on to a bed of good tortilla chips in a cookie sheet, and then broiled. Probably best to put the cheese on last.

  7. You’ve just reminded me of one of my favorite things when I was a kid, my mom’s turkey divan. Fairly simple casserole involving rice, cream of mushroom soup, broccoli, a great deal of cheese and of course plenty of leftover turkey. Had to have some onion and celery too, now that I think about it.

  8. Turkey hash – diced turkey, diced potato, diced onion, diced celery, spices to taste. (I start the onion & celery and garlic in 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, then add the potato (frozen “southern style” hash browns make this easy) and I use sage and cayenne and black pepper.

    You are making turkey gravy from the drippings aren’t you? Easy as can be – equal amount of flour for the drippings you have. Cook the flour & drippings for 10 minutes over a low heat and then add either water, or for a really rich gravy, canned low sodium chicken broth – 1 cup for each 2 tablespoons of drippings you started with. A medium size turkey will usually use one of the really big cans of broth at the grocery store. Or you can use powdered bullion, but it tends to be salty.

    Another turkey hash – diced turkey with gravy made from the drippings above – serve over mashed potato.

    Turkeyhash w/ gravy add some carrots and celery and diced potato – and make a potpie.

    Turkey salad – onion, celery, mayo, black pepper.

    Green olives added to the turkey salad and using an oil based dressing gives you a different tasting salad. (Italian works well) Or green & black olives both. nuts to taste for crunch.

  9. Chunks of dark turkey meat (or chicken) go really well with aromatic root vegetables in a slow-cooked stew.

    Saute lots of chopped ginger, garlic and onions. Add the turkey, and lots of sliced parsnips and carrots, and a few tablespoons of Chinese oyster sauce. Cover and simmer as long as you can stand to wait, adding a little water if it sticks. Serve over jasmine rice.

  10. My girlfriend’s family swear by leaving all roast leftovers in gravy until the following day, when they become all fallen apart and delicious.

    I tend to use turkey to make delicious burritos – chop up some butternut squash or sweet potato into 1/2 ” cubes, and parboil for ten minutes. Whilst you’re doing this, brown a large onion and minced garlic in a big pan, then add the cold roast turkey, in strips or however it comes, let it take on a bit of colour.

    Throw in a decent amount of cayenne pepper, some cumin (lots of cumin!), a generous shake of dried oregano. Add the orange lumps and a couple of finely chopped capiscum peppers

    Let this flavour up for five minutes, stirring the spices in, then toss in a load of grated cheddar.

    Smear some avocado/guacamole on the inside of a soft tortilla, add a decent dollop of the mixture from the work and then fold the torilla up and grill it shut (in a dry griddle pan, wrapped up in foil in the oven or in the griddle machine of a boxer who was so proud he put his name on it!)



  11. Cooked turkey thigh chopped up coarsely makes a nice tamale pie with a can of corn, a can of cooked tomatoes, and some salsa, inside a cornmeal crust. Detailed recipe if you’re interested.

    Cooked turkey thigh chopped up coarsely also goes nicely inside a pea soup instead of or in addition to ham. Lazy people like me may start a pea soup by putting a package of frozen young peas inside a blender and adding some beef broth. Details if you’re interested.

    Leftover cooked turkey in general goes nicely in a stirfry along with bean sprouts and Napa cabbage and Chinese peapods and onions and other appropriate veggies. Detailed recipe if you’re interested.

    You can reserve some of the turkey breast and make it into a semi-shish kebab with onions and bell peppers and other appropriate veggies. (I use a disposable roasting pan I’ve poked with holes to let the juice drip out, inserted inside a covered roasting pan.) Detailed recipe if you’re interested.

    I usually cook a Mutant Turkey rather than a standard one: wings, drumsticks, thighs, maybe a half breast — each piece wrapped in aluminum foil and cooked at 350 degrees for 150 minutes, some of them skinned for people on a lowfat diet. This gives *lots* of turkey juice, which I then save for Thanksgiving turkey dressing, adding to chicken soup that’s too weak, and other uses for a good stock.

  12. The southern half of my family believes very strongly that other than sandwiches, turkey croquettes is the way to go with leftover turkey. Are you making stuffing/dressing to go with these turkeys? You’ll need some to do it up properly.

    2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
    1 cup leftover stuffing
    1 small onion chopped
    2 eggs, beaten
    1-2 TBSP finely chopped parsley
    dried thyme and black pepper to taste (usually depends on how well-seasoned the stuffing is, but 1/4 teaspoon of each is a good minimum)

    Combine the ingredients in a bowl and form either patties or cylinders a bit smaller than an egg roll. Bake in a 400F oven on a lightly greased baking sheet, or if you are feeling decadent you could fry them in a skillet with a bit of oil/butter. If you have leftover gravy, pour it over the top just before serving. Hot sauce is nice on these as well.

  13. Jeez. Son of my mother, what about stir fry? You already know how. Or make turkey fajitas.

    Another good, easy recipe I like needs fairly thick slabs of turkey breast. Put 1/2 cup of rice in an”ovenable” pan (horrible word alert!) , add the cup of water or broth, then the turkey and some red or green paper rings. Add paprika, garlic, onion slices, whatever else tickles your fancy. Cover tightly with foil and bake at about 375 until the rice is done. (about 30-40 minutes). This I usually make with raw pork chops, so that’s what I mean by a “slab.”

    By the way, real people know that those things are actually called sammiches! (g)

  14. My mum generally chops up the turkey into fine bits, and heats it up in some cream of mushroom soup (with only about 1/4 the amount of milk the soup can calls for) and then serves it over toast. It’s like a rip-off of creamed chipped beef on toast, but with turkey instead. It’s very popular round our house after the winter holidays.

  15. Turkey pot pie! When finely chopped, turkey can sub for ground beef in almost any recipe. I’ve done stuffed peppers this way.

  16. This is, I believe, a recipe of David’s mother’s. She used canned tuna, and so do we, but cooked turkey should be very nice.

    Peel and chop two to four onions and a generous amount of garlic. Sautee these in a fairly generous amount of oil until translucent.

    Add two to four tablespoons of your favorite curry powder; amount depends on various factors. Sautee until curry powder is well distributed amongst the alliums.

    Add a half cup to a whole cup of relatively dry white wine. Add chopped roasted turkey. We’d use the large can of tuna, probably twelve ounces, so you can either wing it or weigh the turkey. More is unlikely to damage the dish.

    Add a teaspoon of salt — possibly less if (see below) your rice is salted already.

    Add four cups of cooked brown rice. You could probably use white if you insisted, but it won’t be quite right.

    Mix thoroughly, cook until heated through, correct seasoning.

    The tuna version is curiously addictive.


    P.S. Sandwitches will grant wishes, but they are not generally eaten, with or without turkey.

  17. As a fellow devotee of the Cult of Alton I’ll point to the “Remains of the Bird” I and II episodes that usually accompany the Thanksgiving episode. Tons of great ideas on how to reuse leftover turkey including a great hash.

  18. Turkey mole! Sorry, I don’t have any recipes handy, but I’m sure you can find one.

    Also, you ARE using that carcass to make stock, aren’t you?

  19. There ought to be an accent mark over the e in mole, so I did mean the Mexican sauce, either the kind with the cocoa powder, or the green kind with the pepitas.

    BTW, Steve, is the m2i ever coming back up? Some of us over on the SU boards have been missing our Zayzan friends.

  20. I don’t have a good recipe to hand, but my favorite use for leftover turkey has always been turkey enchiladas.

  21. Hmmm. I was going to suggest curry and make a friendly crack about sandwitches, but Pamela Dean has apparently read my mind.

    Hi, Steve. Been a while, dude.

  22. Many thanks, you wonderful people! Turkey is currently defrosting, so soon I’ll be able to start trying these. Mmmm.

    Chris: Actually not brining yet, but going to try that soon. Mostly, Alton taught me how to do the roasting part (high temp FIRST, then cover and finish roasting).

    MG: Man, I HOPE so! I miss them too. I wonder what’s been happening; we’re pretty helpless at this end. Meanwhile, though, there’s another SU episode due in less than two weeks.

    Kim: Hey, that’s not fair. Which Kim are you?

  23. If you’ve got some meat by the time the soup is ready, or you froze some of the stock the last time, you can make this improvised mock pho
    that is one of my favorites.

    heat up soup with enough leftover turkey meat to make a meal
    season with star anise, soy sauce, 5-spice powder, sriracha sauce, etc to taste
    cook rice noodles separately and add to the soup, or cook rice noodles in there

    Set out bowls for each person. In each bowl, put in fresh sliced cabbage and/or fresh bean sprouts, if you happen to have fresh mint or basil they’re nice too. Add noodles.

    Pour hot soup with plenty of meat into each bowl and serve.

    I also heat up leftover turkey with whatever vegetable and cooked grain I feel like for a quick hot meal, when tired of sandwiches.

  24. there is always turkey noodle soup… i’ve been experimenting with cooking club of america recipes…i’m sure they have somethings over there to check out for turkey meat.

  25. When roasting the turkey, I always boil the neck and giblets(the stuff in the bag) with some seasoning to make a thin stock for the gravy. Then when the turkey is done; add the drippings to the stock, bring to a boil and add a cornstarch slurry to the boiling stock/dripping mixture. continue to boil for about a minute while stirring constantly(a whisk works best) – and you have gravy. The leftover gravy can be used for hot turkey sandwiches or casseroles.

    Use leftover turkey in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, it’s especially good in Mexican recipes – think turkey enchiladas cooked in mole sauce .

  26. My favorite is to make BBQ turkey sandwiches. Just reheat some of the turkey in a sauce pan with your favorite BBQ sauce (thinned with a little water). If you let it simmer for 15 minutes or so it will completely fall apart. Apply to your choice of bread or bun and you are all set.

  27. Stir fry with regular&spring onion in a bit of soy sauce, green curry, ginger and garlic. I use this with fresh turkey breast, but it should work with leftover roast if it’s juicy enough.

  28. No mysterious secret, dude. Tried to email you @dreamcafe but alas, 5.4.0 Error: too many hops. Someone left the cage to the bunny hutch open.

  29. Kim: Strange. Chris Olson mentioned the same problem. I asked him to try again, and it worked for him. I dunno.

  30. I’m getting the same problem, Steve. Getting bounce messages from both you and postmaster, from some rather odd mailserver names: deathwish and diehard, for instance.

  31. There’s also the classic from Louisiana.. gumbo. Sadly I don’t have a recipe for ya.

  32. Delicious Turkey gumbo

    Turkey carcass
    3 stalks celery
    2 onions
    Salt, whole peppercorns, bay leaves
    Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours uncovered, skim oil, strain, and reserve meat, onions, and celery.

    In a cast iron pot over medium heat, combine ¾ cup (c) flour and vegetable oil and make a dark brown roux. Add 1.5c chopped yellow onions, 1c chopped green peppers, 0.5c celery, salt and cayenne. Cook and stir until vegetable soften (~5min). Add 0.5lb chopped smoked sausage (andouille is best), and stir for 5 min. Add turkey broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Add reserved items from broth, and 1.5lb shredded/chopped roasted turkey meat and cook for 15 minutes. Add chopped fresh parsley and green onions (2T each). Serve over steam rice, goes well with potato salad.
    From Marcelle Bienvenu.

    A really good gumbo, works even better with more turkey carcasses, but you need a BIG pot.

  33. mea culpa,

    Should probably take the last recipe down for copyright reasons. It may be available online, but I got it from a book. Sorry. Anyway, check out Marcelle Bienvenu’s book “Cooking up a storm” for that and other great recipes.

  34. Sounds like good stuff, Nick, but doesn’t have anything to do with left-over roasted turkey meat.

  35. When all else fails you can go primal like I do.

    Eat it as it is with your fingers. Still tastes nice and you save on further cooking and cutlery washing.

  36. The pound and a half of cooked roasted turkey meat goes in the gumbo near the end. It’s good, I promise.

  37. Other than sandwitches, my favorite thing to do with leftover Turkey is something I learned to make overseas, which I call an Arab Burrito.

    Take some of your turkey (or, actually any, meat, but in this case turkey), add the extra herbs of your dreams, cook and season a good eastern rice to counterpoint whatever you did with the meat, cut up whatever vegetables you have around, with emphasis on a few that crunch, grate in cheese if you wish, though I prefer to crumble feta. Put the whole thing in the biggest pita you can find (ideally the size of a large tortilla in surface area, but with enough nooks and crannies to soak up some grease, err. sauce.

    For an alternative way of making perfect turkey, stuff it with moist things (veggies and fungus do nicely), loosen and rub whatever floats your boat under the skin, wrap the whole thing in bacon — using toothpicks to secure where necessary (turkey bacon will also work), then cook the whole thing at 225 Farenheit for as long as it takes — juice will run clear from thigh/breast juncture when done. Side nenefit is you have the bacon for the burrito, and the whole house smells like cooking turkey for most of the day.

  38. I can’t believe nobody mentioned fowl eatin’s. I don’t know the recipe, but I’m sure Steve knows somebody who does.

  39. Turkey Quiche! Shredded turkey, minced broccoli, swiss cheese, left-over bread dressing if you have any. Add sage and thyme to the custard. If you heat the custard in the microwave a little bit you can cut the baking time in half.

  40. Find a great Chick-ala-King and supsitute the turkey meat. Save some of the good turkey broth for this recipe. Also, freeze some turkey broth for future meals. Inject it into the raw turkey breast before baking to make it moister. Use it to make stuffing or gravy.

  41. Eh, if you’re feeling lazy, just chop/slice it and add it to whatever. Spanish rice, stir fried veggies, heck-add some diced turkey to a can of soup to make it heartier. Best thing to do with it? Wrap it very well and freeze it in small packages. Good for when you have little to no time to cook. Also good for when you find a great recipe, and don’t want to roast a turkey before you can try it out.
    Disclaimer: I do like to cook, and the suggested recipes look yummy. This is for when RealLife asserts itself by devouring vast chunks of your time, and you gotta eat!

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