Christmas recipes to use up every last bit of turkey

By / Food / December 7th, 2017 / 8

If I were Ebenezer Scrooge, I would have spent a little more time with the Ghost of Christmas Past. I mean, who wouldn’t want the chance to go back in time and relive all the holiday fun? What’s that, you say? Scrooge had a lonely boarding school childhood and no holiday fun? Why, that’s positively Dickensian!

As for me, my Christmases past were always a blast. Family, friends, food and fun ruled the holidays — and still do. And I have Charles Dickens to thank for that.

Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Story, published in 1843, fuelled the Victorian resurgence of Christmas, with its transformation of a cold, self-interested miser into something of a jolly, kind and giving Father Christmas. Dickens wrote much of the story in his head during night-time walks, a practice I often employ for my own written words, although I skip the night-time walks and lie on the couch, sleeping.

At the beginning of the 19th century, believe it or not, Christmas was not much celebrated. After Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, the royal couple decorated a Christmas tree with fruits, candies and candles, a tradition from Prince Albert’s German childhood. And the Victorian people were enthralled.

Then Charles Dickens fanned the flames of Christmas cheer with his novella focusing on compassion, charity and goodwill. The phrase “Merry Christmas,” was popularized during Victorian times by Dickens’ novella. The phrase “Bah! Humbug!” (which I use often during the holidays) also entered the English language through A Christmas Carol. Even today, the name Scrooge remains a descriptive noun for a miser, even if the miser in question is a character as quackily-cute as Disney’s Scrooge McDuck.

Bottom line: Christmas is about family, friends, community, kindness, giving back and huge love. Make yours as special as you can, record it to memory and hold it close. Christmas 2017 will only be here for a very short time. Bring it!

Here, as frugal as Scrooge, I offer recipes for enjoying every last bit of the Christmas turkey.

Rotini, Turkey and Cheese Bake

Serves 4 to 6

Sort of mac and cheese but with the bonus of roasted turkey and vegetables. If you have leftover veggies, chop them into bite-sized pieces and use them instead of the frozen peas and carrots. I like rotini because it catches the yummy cheese sauce, but you can substitute a pasta of your choice. For the best melt, grate your own cheese either by hand or in the food processor. Top this dish with sliced almonds, if desired.

450 g rotini, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter 
6 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp grainy mustard
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2–3 cups cubed roasted turkey
1 package frozen peas and carrots, thawed

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the garlic over medium-low heat until tender. Whisk in the flour. Cook while whisking for 30 seconds. Add the milk, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.

In a large bowl, gently fold together the turkey, vegetables and cheese sauce. Transfer to the baking dish. Bake uncovered for30 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.

Match: Serve with Chardonnay.

Kentucky Hot Brown

Serves 4

An open-faced turkey sandwich, rich with Mornay sauce and garnished with bacon, this dish is perfect for a cold winter’s night.

2 tbsp butter 
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
450 g roasted turkey breast, thickly sliced and warmed in an oven or microwave
4 thick slices artisan bread, lightly toasted
1 large tomato, sliced
8 slices cooked bacon

Preheat the broiler.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking, for 1 minute.

Whisk in the heavy cream and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the cheese until smooth. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Place the toast on a rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet. Layer each piece with turkey breast. Top each open-faced sandwich with one or two tomato slices.

Pour the cheese sauce over the sandwiches, making sure they are completely covered. Sprinkle with additional Pecornio Romano cheese.

Broil until the cheese [sauced] is lightly browned and bubbly, about 1 minute. Remove and criss-cross two pieces of bacon on top of each sandwich.

Match: Very good with Sauvignon Blanc.

Major Grey Turkey Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

Let’s face it, turkey sandwiches are the best part of the holidays. I toast whole wheat bread, spread cranberry sauce on one slice and mayo on the other. A dash of salt and pepper and a crisp Romaine lettuce leaf and I’m happy. Here, turkey is paired with chutney for those who like things sweet and spicy.

2 cups shredded roasted turkey
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Major Grey chutney
1/3–1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp minced scallion
Salt, to taste
Crisp lettuce leaves
8 slices country bread, toasted if desired

In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, celery, chutney, mayo and scallions. Season with salt. Divide filling among 4 slices of bread, about 1/2 cup each. Top each one with lettuce leaves and a second slice of bread.

Match: This sandwich calls for a nice cold beer.

Greek Turkey Bowl Salad

Serves 4

The recent culinary craze that kind of refuses to go away (because it’s so good) is all about nutritious bowls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This tasty bowl brings together turkey, brown rice and Greek salad ingredients. Cut the turkey and vegetables into similar shapes and sizes for the best presentation. You can make it a Tex-Mex bowl by combining turkey, black beans, salsa, cilantro, guacamole and cheddar cheese. Or, for an Italian version, use cooked farro, turkey, salami or pepperoni, pepperoncini peppers, cherry tomatoes, Castelvetrano olives and chunks of Provolone cheese. Add minced oregano to the vinaigrette.

2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 cups roasted turkey, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped and pitted 
1 package crumbled feta
1 tbsp mint or parsley, minced
Pita bread
House Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

With an ice cream scoop, place 1/2 cup rice in the centre of each of 4 bowls. Top with equal portions of turkey, beans, cucumber, pepper, onion, olives and feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with mint or parsley. Pass the pita bread.

Match: Uncork a medium-bodied, dry Rosé.

House Vinaigrette

This is a basic vinaigrette that can be dressed up with garlic, shallots or herbs. Add more vinegar or olive oil, if desired. Instead of red wine vinegar, try balsamic or champagne. Honey or sugar can be added as well.

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Turkey Stock

Makes about 10–12 cups

My mother never understood why I eagerly grabbed the turkey carcass from her holiday table for stock. To my mom, turkey soup was made with bones and meat.  But, I explained, although stripped of much of its meat (the meat having been parcelled out to my siblings for turkey sandwiches), the turkey bones and what little meat was left still had a lot of flavour. Here, an ordinary pot of water transforms those leftovers into a deep, rich stock that can be divided into 1- to 2-cup servings and frozen for future use. If the turkey is quite large, break it into pieces. There is no salt in this stock. You may add salt later when using the stock in a recipe, or cheat a little bit and add chicken bouillon cubes to amp up the flavour. The stock will spend the night in the fridge in several smaller containers, which will ensure it cools quickly.

1 turkey carcass
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
5 peppercorns
2 bay leaves

In a large stockpot, barely cover the turkey carcass with water (usually about 12 cups, depending on the size of the turkey). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours. Strain the stock, discarding any solids.

Place the stock in several 2-cup containers and refrigerate. The next day, skim off the fat, strain again if desired and ladle the stock into freezer containers.

Stock can be frozen for up to 3 months. Use in any recipe calling for chicken stock.




Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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