Recipes for Creamed Turkey with Sweet Potato Biscuits; Turkey Gumbo; Turkey Crumb Pot Pie; Kentucky Hot Brown; Turkey Pie with Potatoes, Squash, Chard and Cheddar; Turkey Pita with Cabbage, Cucumbers and Tahini dressing; and Cheesy Pasta Shells with Butternut Squash.

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Some cooks prefer the Thanksgiving meal with its generous platters and long, festive table. Others are impatient for the after-party, the prospect of raiding the fridge at midnight, or the anticipated snack the next day, when the bounty is neatly packed away.

Regardless of where you fall, one thing is certain: Leftovers are a given. Embrace them.

Of course, after you’ve spent the better part of a week preparing for the big meal, you may not be in the mood for another complex cooking project. If it’s just the immediate family having a grazing free-for-all, picking at congealed turkey parts and condiments, alternating with forkfuls of cold stuffing, that’s one thing, and it’s perfectly fine.

But if you have more guests coming over (perhaps the ones who couldn’t make it to the main event), you may want to cobble together something more refined.

Lots of things come to mind immediately. Shepherd’s pie may be at the top of the list, or that old airline standby dubiously named turkey tetrazzini. Turkey fried rice could be something, or a shredded turkey salad with a Southeast Asian inflection. A multitude of variations on turkey soup come to mind. I usually take it in a spicy direction, perhaps North African, perhaps Mexican. Turkey tostadas are also a bite-size option that isn’t too labor intensive.

But consider adding these recipes to the list of repurposed turkey possibilities.

I started out by playing with the notion of biscuits and gravy and the classic turkey a la king. I’m actually a huge fan of both those humble dishes, so in my mind it’s a natural marriage. Neither is exactly dainty, but this can be prepared with a light hand.

Tasty, saucy, savory creamed turkey (enhanced with a little leftover gravy) is the result. You could serve this with freshly baked fluffy buttermilk biscuits, but because you’re apt to have some leftover sweet potato, you may as well make them Southern-style sweet-potato biscuits.

Another way to dress up all your odds and ends is to to create a Kentucky Hot Brown or put those leftovers in a pie.

A post-Thanksgiving turkey potpie can be sprinkled with crumbs made from packaged stuffing mix, and those crispy onions from the green-bean casserole. And don’t forget the leftover gravy.

If you’re looking for something less complicated, how about heading in a Middle Eastern direction? Concoct a shawarma-like pulled-turkey filling to pile into a pita, changing up the Thanksgiving flavors with garlic and spices. Complete it with some lightly pickled cabbage and cucumber, and a bright tahini sauce with lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and yogurt. You’ll have a great turkey sandwich, circumnavigating the not-necessarily-requisite fallback of mayo and cranberry sauce.

These are just recommendations. You may not want to veer from your traditional post-Thanksgiving rituals, whatever they may be. You could opt for a juice cleanse; you could continue gorging on leftover desserts or attacking the carcass on the countertop. Or perhaps you’re content supine on the sofa sipping mineral water instead of dining.

But if you’re up for a civilized meal, any of these options certainly qualifies.


Makes 4 servings

For the creamed turkey:

4 ounces sausage meat, preferably breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk, more as needed

1 cup leftover gravy or ¾ cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper

Pinch of cayenne

2 cups diced cooked turkey meat

For the sweet-potato biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed

2 teaspoons/ baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup mashed sweet potato

½ cup buttermilk

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, cook sausage meat, breaking it into small crumbly pieces as it browns. Pour off any rendered fat. Add butter and diced onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, three to four minutes. Sprinkle mixture with flour and stir to combine.

2. Add milk ½ cup at a time, stirring vigilantly as the sauce thickens. Reduce heat if sauce is bubbling too rapidly. Whisk in gravy or broth and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Fold in turkey meat and heat through. Keep warm.

3. Make the biscuit dough: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Add butter and work it into the dry mixture with fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Beat sweet potato and buttermilk together and stir into flour mixture. Mix briefly just enough to incorporate to make a soft dough.

4. Transfer dough to a work surface and dust lightly with flour. Knead for one minute, then pat or roll dough to a 1½-inch thickness. Use a floured biscuit cutter or water glass to cut 10 to 12 rounds from the dough. (Or simply use a sharp knife to cut dough into 2-inch squares or diamonds.) Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden.

5. To serve, split a warm biscuit and spoon saucy turkey over it.

— David Tanis, The New York Times


Leftover turkey can be used for potpies, casseroles, pho or fried rice, but John Besh’s favorite way to eat it is — no surprise — gumbo. The Louisiana chef says he makes this gumbo just about every year.

Serves 10

¾ cup canola oil

¾ cup flour

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

½ bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

3 quarts chicken stock

Meat picked from leftover roast turkey, plus the turkey carcass

2 pounds smoked sausage, sliced ½-inch thick

1 pound okra, sliced


Salt and pepper

6 cups cooked white rice

2 scallions, chopped

1. Make a roux by heating the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and continue whisking until the roux turns a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium low and continue stirring until the roux turns a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the celery, bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves and stir for three minutes, then add the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the turkey carcass, sausage, and okra. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo (moving the pot half off the burner helps collect the impurities). Remove the carcass from the pot.

3. Add the turkey meat and season well with Tabasco, salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with rice, scattered with the scallions.

— Adapted by the Austin American-Statesman from “Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes,” by John Besh (Andrews McMeel, $25).


Serves 4

Your favorite pie dough, enough for 1 (9 1/2-inch) pie shell, divided


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ large onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib or 1 cup sliced white mushroom caps

2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

2¼ cups chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream

2½ cups chopped cooked turkey

2 cups cooked vegetables (such as corn, peas, carrots, broccoli, and/ or Brussels sprouts), preferably in combination

½ teaspoon dried sage

½ teaspoon dried thyme


1 cup packaged stuffing mix

1 cup crispy French fried onions

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Prepare your favorite pie dough, or choose store-bought dough. Divide dough into four equal balls. Flatten each ball into a ½-inch-thick disk. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1½ hours. While the dough chills, get out four individual potpie dishes, each with a capacity of 1 to 1¼ cups, and set them aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large stovetop casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté for eight minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another minute. Whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, allowing the liquid to thicken a bit, then stir in the cream, turkey, vegetables, sage, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste. Return to a simmer and simmer gently for about five minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste, adding more salt as needed. Set aside to cool thoroughly.

3. Working with one piece of dough at a time (and leaving the others in the refrigerator), roll it into a circle about 8 inches in diameter and line one of the potpie dishes with it. Pinch the edge into an upstanding ridge and flute, if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat for the rest of the dough. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees while they are chilling.

4. Divide the filling evenly among the potpie shells. Make sure there’s about ½ inch of room between the filling and the top edge of the pastry. Bake on the center oven rack for 30 minutes. (If you have a large enough baking sheet, line the sheet with parchment paper or foil and bake the pies on it, in case of spillovers.)

5. While the potpies bake, make the topping. Put the stuffing mix and onions in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine repeatedly, until the mixture is well chopped but still somewhat coarse. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well, and set aside.

6. After the pies have baked for 30 minutes, slide out the oven rack and carefully divide the crumb topping among the pies. Using a fork, spread it around and then press it down gently. Slide the rack back in and continue to bake until the topping browns and the filling is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

— Adapted by The Palm Beach Post from the book, “Dinner Pies,” by Ken Haedrich.


Serves 6

For the Manchego-Jalapeño Mornay Sauce:

4 cups heavy cream

¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, 1 cut into ¼-inch dice and the other sliced, for garnish

2 cups grated manchego cheese

For the Hot Browns:

Nonstick cooking spray, for the dishes

12 slices French bread or Texas Toast, toasted and crusts removed

1½ pounds roasted and sliced turkey breast

12 strips Benton’s bacon or applewood-smoked bacon, cooked

12 to 18 slices heirloom tomatoes, lightly salted

Grated manchego cheese, for topping

1. Position a rack in the center of a convection oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan, warm the heavy cream with the nutmeg, white pepper, and salt over medium heat just until the mixture has bubbles around the edges of the pan but it is not boiling. Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour, stirring or whisking constantly to make a blonde roux; cook for two minutes to cook out the flour taste.

3. Slowly add the warm cream to the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps and until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add the diced jalapeños and cheese and whisk until the cheese has melted and everything is blended. Adjust the seasonings. Keep warm.

4. Each Hot Brown will be assembled and cooked in an individual greased oval casserole dish. Assembling one serving at a time, place two slices of toast on the bottom of the dish. Top each with sliced turkey and then ¾ cup Manchego-Jalapeno Mornay Sauce. Place the bacon slices on top, add the tomatoes, and top with grated Manchego. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted, about five minutes.

— Adapted by The Palm Beach Post from “Southern Heat: New Southern Cooking Latin Style” (The Taunton Press)


Makes 10 servings

1 pound frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed, or homemade flaky pie dough

2 ounces thick-slice bacon, cut into lardons

1 small onion, very finely diced

2 cups chopped cooked chard or other greens, squeezed dry and cooled

Salt and pepper

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (from about 2 pounds potatoes), cooled

6 ounces coarsely grated sharp cheddar (about 2 cups)

2 cups chopped cooked dark turkey meat, or a mixture of dark and white meat

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

2 cups leftover mashed squash (or roasted cubes), cooled

1 beaten egg, for glaze

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll puff pastry into two rounds, one 12 inches in diameter, the other 10 inches in diameter. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with the larger round. Refrigerate lined pan and remaining pastry round while preparing the filling ingredients.

2. Put a skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until barely crisp and add onion, stirring until softened, about two minutes. Combine bacon-onion mixture with cooked chard and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

3. Layer the ingredients into the pastry: First make an even layer of the mashed potatoes, covering the bottom completely. Sprinkle with a handful of grated cheese. Mix turkey meat with rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Distribute in an even layer and sprinkle with a handful of cheese. Add a layer of chard-bacon mixture and cheese, followed by a final layer of squash and cheese.

4. Fit the smaller round of pastry on top and crimp together with bottom pastry, leaving the crimped edge inside the rim. Brush top with beaten egg and cut 2 or 3 vent holes in the surface with a paring knife.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 40 minutes more, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees. Let rest five minutes, then carefully remove sides of springform pan. If sides of pie seem soft, bake for another 10 minutes with sides removed. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with gravy or a green salad.

Note: The pie may be baked up to several hours in advance and reheated.

— David Tanis, The New York Times


Makes 4 servings

2 cups very thinly sliced red cabbage

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, or 2 tablespoons lime juice plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon grated garlic

1 cup peeled diced cucumber

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch of cayenne

1 cup plain yogurt (do not use Greek-style yogurt)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups shredded cooked dark meat turkey, or a mixture of dark and white meat

½ teaspoon ground toasted cumin

½ teaspoon ground toasted coriander

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

4 large pita breads

A few radishes, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Put cabbage and carrot in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then toss with pomegranate molasses and ½ teaspoon garlic and set aside. Put cucumber in a separate bowl and season with salt and chopped mint.

2. Make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, stir together tahini, lemon juice, remaining ½ teaspoon garlic and cayenne. Whisk in yogurt and season with salt and pepper.

3. Put olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and let sizzle. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes. Stir-fry for one minute and turn off heat.

4. Warm pitas briefly in a toaster oven and cut in half to make eight pockets. Spoon some warm turkey into each pita, then a spoonful of cabbage, a bit of cucumber, some sliced radish, if using, and a large dollop of tahini dressing. Serve two filled pockets per person.

— David Tanis, The New York Times


Makes 6 servings

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups of chunks)

2 medium yellow onions, diced

1 teaspoon dried sage

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pound pasta shells

1½ cups half-and-half

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup crumbled soft goat cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Heat the oven to 400 F.

2. On a rimmed baking sheet, mound the butternut squash, onions and sage, then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat, then spread into a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until the squash is tender and everything is nicely browned.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

4. Return the empty pasta pot to medium-high heat and add the reserved cooking water and the half-and-half. Heat just until little bubbles appear around the edges of the pot. Whisk in the Parmesan, goat cheese and Monterey Jack until the cheeses are melted. Return the pasta to the pan and stir until coated with the sauce. Add the cooked squash and onions and toss to combine. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot.

— Katie Workman, The Associated Press