Instead of eating turkey sandwiches for a week, transform the remnants of yesterday's bird into dishes with fresh appeal.
Serving as guides in this project are culinary experts in three fields--a chef, a caterer and a cookbook author.
Alexander Gordon, executive chef of the Regent Beverly Wilshire, acknowledges that leftover turkey "can be a bit blah" and needs dressing up. He suggests two dishes that not only have lots of flavor but are easy to prepare. Too complicated a recipe would simply discourage cooks after the heavy work of Thanksgiving, he pointed out.
For practicality, it would be hard to surpass Gordon's turkey pancakes and turkey and wild rice soup. The soup is based on turkey broth that can be made from the carcass, and the apple-cranberry relish that goes with the pancakes is a handy way to use up leftover cranberry relish. Buckwheat pancake mix makes quick work of the pancakes.
Gordon points out that a roast turkey should be wrapped well and refrigerated as soon as it has cooled after serving. Placing it in the refrigerator unwrapped will result in dry meat. When used again, the meat should be cut up and thoroughly heated, he said.
Faye Levy, a Santa Monica-based cookbook author, has dealt with poultry frequently during the production of 10 cookbooks. "The main thing is to have the turkey in small pieces for reheating," she said. Putting a large chunk of the bird in the oven to heat it the second time around is "the best way for it to get really dry," she observed.
Levy's two most recent books are "Sensational Pasta" (HP Books), published earlier this year, and "Fresh from France: Dinner Inspirations," which is scheduled to be released this month by Dutton.
In a recipe from "Fresh From France," Levy revives turkey by sauteing it lightly, then serving it with a creamy mustard sauce and Chinese pea pods (snow peas). The plate can be rounded out with steamed new potatoes, she said, and Brussels sprouts can be substituted for the pea pods.
In the past, turkey Tetrazzini (creamed turkey and noodles) was almost everyone's post Thanksgiving standby. Levy's contemporary approach is to toss the turkey with spicy chili pasta, adding lima beans, green onions, red pepper strips and cilantro for color. Her recipe for chili pasta is included here, but ready-made spicy pastas, available in specialty shops and some upscale supermarkets, can be substituted, she said.
Robert Ehrman, president and owner of Rococo Custom Catering in Van Nuys, insists that "leftovers don't have to be like leftovers." What makes the difference is the application of imagination, he said.
One of Ehrman's ideas is turkey hash served with mustard sauce, a recipe he acquired years ago in New York. Adding a fried egg turns the hash into a breakfast dish. Or it could be served for lunch or supper accompanied by toasted French bread spread with dill butter and a salad of contemporary greens such as mache and arugula. "It's a nice, light item," Ehrman said.
Another Rococo concept is to combine turkey with walnuts and water chestnuts in a Sherry-flavored sauce. The sauce is based on stock, and here again, the turkey carcass comes in handy as the stock foundation. This dish is a natural to go with rice. Add a salad and stir-fried broccoli or a reheated Thanksgiving vegetable for an appetizing post-holiday dinner.
From Alexander Gordon, Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel TURKEY AND WILD RICE SOUP
1/4 cup butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
7 tablespoons flour
1 quart turkey stock
1 cup wild rice
2 cups diced turkey
Heat butter in large saucepan. Add celery, leek, onion and carrot and saute lightly. Do not allow to brown. Stir in just enough of flour to absorb butter. Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually stir turkey stock into mixture.
Add wild rice and bring to simmer, stirring frequently. Add thyme and sage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, over low heat until rice is cooked, 40 to 50 minutes. Add more stock if mixture becomes too thick.
Add turkey 20 minutes before soup is done. Taste to adjust seasonings. Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve with corn-bread muffins. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
TURKEY PANCAKES WITH APPLE AND CRANBERRY RELISH
2 cups buckwheat pancake mix
2 cups flaked cooked turkey
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Apple and Cranberry Relish
Prepare pancake mix according to package directions. Combine pancake mix, turkey, pecans and few drops Worcestershire. Spoon 2 tablespoons mixture for each pancake onto hot, lightly greased griddle and flatten into 3- to 4-inch rounds. Cook until browned on bottom, then turn and brown other side, cooking until turkey is heated through.
Serve on heated plates with Apple and Cranberry Relish on side. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen pancakes.
Apple and Cranberry Relish
1 cup prepared cranberry sauce
1/2 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced