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Fun with Leftovers - Treat Your Turkey Right

by John Raven, Ph. B.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This great holiday always leaves us wondering what to do with the leftover turkey. Being there is only one in my family, I have more leftover turkey than most. Over the years, I have consumed my share of sliced turkey sandwiches, turkey hash and just plain leftover turkey.



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This month I have put together several recipes for that second-hand bird that I think you will find most refreshing. Who knows, you may even decide to have turkey again for Christmas just so you can use these recipes.

One of the best turkey recipes was developed by my friend Leslie Rayburn. Leslie has a knack for inventing very good recipes. This one specifies smoked turkey, but I'm sure it would be just as good using plain baked turkey.

Leslie's Smoked Turkey Tortellini Soup

  • 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 7 or 8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 14-½ oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1 can Swanson lite chicken broth
  • 1-½ cups diced, smoked turkey meat, breast and thigh
  • Any reserved juice from turkey
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon White Wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • Half an 8-oz. package dried tortellini with parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Roast the red pepper under broiler until charred. Place in a plastic bag to cool. Remove skin and seeds. Chop into medium dice.

In a Dutch oven-type pot, saut é onions and garlic until tender. Add the celery and carrots and saut 2 to 3 minutes, add the mushrooms and saut é an additional 2 or 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add dry spices and mix well.

Add the drained garbanzo beans, diced pepper, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, turkey juice, Worcestershire and soy sauce. Bring to a slow boil and cook ten minutes. Add dried tortellini and boil gently for twenty-five minutes. Add frozen green beans in the last ten minutes. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and fresh grated parmigiano reggiano. Serves 6.

I guarantee this is about as good as you can wish for on a cold, fall evening.

This next recipe is one I developed. It is plenty spicy, and its use is not limited to turkey. It's great on any leftover meats.

Sauce Olé

  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1 teaspoon salad mustard (yellow mustard)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground hot red pepper or Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Water>
Saut é the onion and garlic in non-reactive pan or pot. When the onion is tender, add the rest of the ingredients, stirring constantly. Add about one-half cup of water and let simmer for 15 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more water.

Pour this sauce over warm, leftover turkey or other meats. I prefer a little more "Hot" than is in the recipe. This is obtained with more hot red pepper or Tabasco.

Here's a turkey salad that can be used in sandwiches, as a dip with saltines, or served on a leaf of lettuce to your Aunt Minnie next Sunday afternoon.

Turkey Salad

  • 2 cups leftover turkey, mix white and dark meat, remove all skin
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped fine
  • ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  • ½ cup sweet pickle relish or equal amount of sweet pickles, chopped fine
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • Kraft Sandwich Spread in amount needed
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Make sure there are no bone fragments or gristle in the turkey.

Combine all but the salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add enough of the sandwich spread to suit your requirements. Start with about one-half cup. Mix well. Taste, add salt and pepper as desired.

Call someone into the kitchen and do the "Here, taste this" routine. If they frown, add a little of the liquid from the pickle jar to the salad and mix. If this doesn't get approval, add a little more sandwich spread. Repeat taste test until the tastee takes the spoon from you and begins to eat from the bowl.

Refrigerate at least three hours. This really lets the flavors marry. As with any salad of this ilk, keep it cool at all times.

Here's one that could become a post holiday favorite around the ranch.

Turkey Cakes

  • 2 cups ground, leftover turkey (all skin removed)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • Seasonings
In a large mixing bowl, mix the egg into the turkey. Add enough of the bread crumbs to get the mixture stiff enough to form into cakes.

The turkey has already been seasoned once (when it was originally cooked). You may want to add about a tablespoon of minced onion and a tablespoon of minced celery to the bowl. A bit of sage or poultry seasoning may be in order -- use your own judgement on this. You probably won't need any more salt.

Form the mix into cakes about three inches in diameter and one-half inch thick. (I've found that using some of the plastic, throw-away gloves really makes this sort of work go easier. The mix won't get all over your hands, and it doesn't stick to the plastic.)

Fry the cakes in about one-eighth inch of melted shortening until golden brown, turning once. (Should take about a minute-and-a-half to two minutes per side). Drain them on paper towels and keep them warm until serving time.

If you have some leftover giblet gravy, warm it up and put some on the cakes when you serve them. You can try some of the Sauce Olé on them, too.

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