A New Lease on Leftovers

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | nov. 2019

As the tryptophan slowly starts to work its way out of our systems after the big Thanksgiving feast, we turn our thoughts to how we can utilize that giant turkey carcass that's taking up the entire top shelf in the fridge. Of course, the first meal after "the meal" will most likely be a smaller version of Thanksgiving dinner, but after a day or two, we need another option.

The key to making the big bird as appetizing as possible is to change its image. By that I mean give turkey a completely different flavor profile, preparation and presentation as to almost trick our body into thinking it's not another Thanksgiving dinner in disguise. My advice is to lighten and lift the flavor by mixing in bold and bright flavors along the deeper undertones and nuttiness.

By simply adding fresh basil pesto for brightness, a few dried currants for sweetness and a handful of toasted pine nuts for depth, you can completely change the flavor of leftover turkey and give your palate a reason to smile.

This versatile preparation will be similar in consistency to a tuna or chicken salad so it works on a bed of greens, on top of a tomato crown, or my favorite way: served as a sandwich on toasted bread with arugula, sliced tomatoes and rings of red onion for a little punch.

There is a little bit of labor involved as you need to carefully and thoroughly inspect and pick through the meat to make sure you remove all bones and bits of fat that can impact the experience in a negative way. Making your pesto from scratch will give you your own unique addition to this recipe but there are some very good pestos available in gourmet stores year round.

Here's hoping you have a very happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the best of what's leftover!

Turkey Pesto Salad

In a medium mixing bowl add:

3 cups diced turkey (use white meat, dark or equal parts of both)

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup dried currants or cranberries

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh basil pesto

3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon honey

salt and pepper to taste

Toss ingredients to combine, chill for at least 30 minutes so flavors can blend. Before serving, adjust consistency to your turkey salad by adding more mayo for a thinner texture if desired.

Enjoy!

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