Turkey leftovers: Twice as tasty the second time around

Unfinished turkey can be both a boon and a burden. In the post-Christmas stupor, here are some suggestions to take your leftovers to the next level.

'Pulled pork is quite popular these days. Why not do pulled turkey?'

Chef Hans Anderegg teaches students how to make turkey stock at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Turkeys leftovers can be both a boon and a burden. In the post-Christmas stupor of Boxing Day, it's easy to just make a sandwich and call it lunch, and maybe even dinner.

The Turkey Farmers of Canada advise getting a bird of less than 10 lbs. to feed six adults and six children at Christmas, many of us will opt for a much bigger option, leaving plenty for second helpings and leftovers.

My personal favourite is pretty basic: ripping off a slab of turkey and slamming it on a toasted everything bagel with lots of mayo. 

But some people want to mix it up, especially if there are a lot of leftovers.

For some post-Christmas inspiration, we asked award-winning chef Hans Anderegg from the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, P.E.I. — and an expert in butchery and charcuterie — to come to our gastronomic rescue.

Turkey tourtière

Chef Hans, as everyone calls him, starts us off with a simple dish: turkey tourtière pies.

Fry up some onions and garlic, add leftover mashed potatoes and a bit of broth (leftover or store-bought), plus cut-up or pulled turkey bits with summer savoury and ground cloves, and mix well.

"It should be still fairly pasty, not runny," said Chef Hans.

Put into a pie shell, add a top crust and bake until the dough is cooked. 

Chef Hans Anderegg removes golden-brown tourtiere pies from an oven at the Culinary Institute of Canada. (Sara Fraser/CBC )

Pulled turkey

"Pulled pork is quite popular these days. Why not do pulled turkey?" Chef Hans suggested.

Just pull it apart with your fingers or forks, add some leftover gravy or sauce to moisten and put it on bread or a burger bun.

Season it the way you like, he said, and add toppings such as lettuce, cheese or cranberry sauce. 

Turkey à la king

Another of the chef's favourites is turkey à la king, which is turkey in a white mushroom sauce, usually served over rice. 

"If you want to cheat, just take a can of mushroom soup and add some turkey and heat it up."

Chef Hans also adds some cooked vegetables, such as peas, carrots or turnips. 

Turkey meatballs

Chef Hans said meatballs are usually made with raw meat, but can also be done with cooked turkey. 

"I would use a little bit of something to hold it together, like a dry mashed potato, or cooked rice — mash it up and mix it in," he said.

"Then just bread it and deep-fry it."


Add some spice to your sandwich

Chef Hans doesn't turn nose his up at a turkey sandwich, but said he spices it up with some dijon mustard, and favours a half white/half dark meat mix on crusty ciabatta bread.

"Chipotle — you can buy it in liquid form — will spice it up," he said.

He also advises mixing some curry powder in your mayo or mustard and "let it sit for a bit to get a nice flavour." 

You can also try this recipe for curried turkey and apple sandwiches from the Turkey Farmers of Canada. Or, if you love to show off your cooking chops and have some extra time, there's turkey croque monsieur with cranberry-apple chutney.

Turkey again? Easy tips to really enjoy your leftovers this year. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Soup it up

Once you've removed the meat, don't throw away that turkey carcass! Chef Hans instructs you to break the carcass apart, stick the bones in a pot and just cover them with water. Add a mirepoix — a fancy way of saying a mix of onion, carrots and celery — and let it simmer for a while. Then strain the mirepoix and discard it.

If you are making soup, add more liquid, along with leftover turkey bits, carrots and potatoes.

Alternatively, you can reduce the broth for several hours until it is a gelatinous, soft solid, and freeze that for future use in soups and sauces. 

Making and reducing turkey stock with chef Hans at Culinary Institute of Canada. 1:15

Going cold turkey

Chef Hans also suggests simply freezing the leftovers. 

"Ideally, most people now have a vacuum pack machine at home," he said. "It's best that way, because [you get] less freezer burn."

If you don't have such a device, he advises removing the meat from the bone, putting it in a rigid plastic container or zipper freezer bag and wrapping it well with plastic wrap and tinfoil. It will keep for up two to three months, he said. 

Chef Hans says he plans to put out a cookbook someday. Until then, you can explore recipes from the Turkey Farmers of Canada. 


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