Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Goes Global

It’s Thanksgiving morning and we’re looking forward to chowing down on turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixins with the family. My very ambitious goal for today is to somehow manage to save some room for a sliver of pumpkin pie and a sliver of my husband’s granny smith apple pie. Dare to dream!

I’m in the “I love leftovers” camp, so as I sip my coffee and catch up on Top Chef this lazy holiday morning, I’m mulling over some possibilities for the foil covered paper plate of Thanksgiving turkey that will make its way back home with us. My dad’s “international fried rice” is a definite contender (heck, throw the cranberries and sweet potatoes in there too.) But I’m also thinking about some of our favorite global recipes that would be perfect with a substitution of some leftover turkey. Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving  — happy eating!

Vietnamese Bun Thit Nuong (Rice Noodle Bowls) with Nuoc Cham

Mexican Chilaquiles

Carribbean Cha Cha Bowls

Indian Turkey Tikka Masala

Thai Lemongrass Turkey and Coconut Soup

Sesame-Avocado Brown Rice Bowls

Thanksgiving, It’s a Wrap

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Simran and I hope you had the chance to enjoy some great company and great food. We were both too busy cooking, eating and sharing the holiday with family and friends to think too much about blog posts but now that we’re back to “real life”, here are some pictures and highlights from the festivities.

Turkey 3 Ways in Monterey

We had a big celebration that brought together 3 branches of our family in picturesque Monterey. The day was gorgeous, crisp and clear. In addition to the array of fairly traditional potluck side dishes (everything from Great Aunt Titi’s famous refrigerator mashed potatoes; to green salads; candied yams; bread stuffing; my dad’s nor mai fan (Chinese rice and sausage stuffing); French Apple Cake and my husband’s apple pie made from his grandmother’s recipe — our table featured turkey cooked three ways: BBQ’d, smoked and oven roasted.

While the turkeys cooked away, some of us took a walk on the beach in Carmel, the kids did lots and lots of running around and the adults just kicked back, caught up and had a glass of wine. Ahhh, that’s my kind of Thanksgiving! The smoked turkey was probably the winner in my book (although make note: not ideal for gravy-making), so I think we may be seeing a backyard smoker at Casa Stacie sometime soon!

Simran’s holiday took a more non-traditional route. In this case a trip to LA with her family to relax and check out the sights and eats. She tells me she came across some great food, but I’ll let her share the details about that.

….. and now to the all important leftovers!

I fall into the category of people who look forward to the leftovers just as as much as the “main event”. There are certain eagerly-awaited, Thanksgiving leftover-driven dishes that only come but once a year. In an informal poll, here’s what my friends did with their leftover turkey this year:

  • tacos with homemade chipotle sauce
  • stir fry with veggies and rice
  • ate it cold while standing in front of the fridge 😉
  • pot pie
  • croquettes (turkey, mashed potatoes, indian spices, egg and breadcrumbs)
  • turkey corn soup (vs. Chicken Corn Soup)
  • turkey and vegetable curry
  • turkey hash with eggs for brunch
  • we made soup stock from the bones
  • homemade hearty turkey & veggie soup
  • white wine coq au vin with turkey instead of chicken, and your basic rustic turkey soup with clear broth
  • turkey soup, turkey enchiladas, turkey quesadillas, turkey tetrazzini. And turkey sandwiches, of course
  • turkey and white bean chili…
  • Martha Stewart’s leftover shepherds pie and put it in the freezer for a day when we are craving Thanksgiving again
  • sandwiches and my stepfather made soup with the carcass
  • homemade hearty turkey & veggie soup
  • sandwiches, my favorite!
  • A close friend, amazing cook and food blogger, “The Hungry Dog” just posted about her leftover adventures and trip back to her childhood with some turkey Tetrazini.
  • And for the truly ambitious, I love these recipes from David Chang’s “Thanksgiving Leftover Challenge” with Food and Wine Magazine from a few years back. Click here to check out his recipes for mashed potato spring rolls, spicy brussels sprouts with mint, turkey breast with ginger scallion sauce, turkey cracklings, soy-braised turkey with rice, brown butter custard pie with cranberry glaze and cinnamon toast crumb crust.

Somehow, even with three turkeys, we sneaked away with no leftovers so we are living vicariously this year. Luckily my parents will be sure to  hook us  up. My mom celebrates her midwest roots by making open faced hot turkey sandwiches with gravy (and sometimes cranberry), and I’m certain that by now my dad has cooked up a big kettle of stock for jook (Chinese rice porridge). Probably my favorite leftover tradition of all is my parents’ annual jook party which in recent years has merged with our annual holiday baking/cookie swap. Jook and cookies, you’ve just got to love that. A tradition for the ages!

Ditch the Turkey – Make a Long-cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce

I know it is tradition to eat Turkey for Thanksgiving – I get it, but then really, I don’t. Maybe it is because I have had one too many dried out turkey breasts in my lifetime.  I do want to before my time is up try two types of turkey: a deep fried turkey and a heritage breed turkey.  One is a messy proposition requiring the purchase of equipment that will never be used again and will clutter up our home.  The second, an expensive proposition (think upwards of $8/lb for a heritage breed turkey) that requires an expert cook to do it justice (not me) and cook it perfectly.  I just need someone to invite us over to their place for Thanksgiving and make a deep fried heritage breed turkey and I will be done.  Forever.

I made Micheal Chiarello’s Long Cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce for dinner recently and am thinking that a couple of these would feed a small crowd for Thanksgiving.  An Italian Thanksgiving.  Stacie would approve.  Here’s the menu for my Italian inspired Thanksgiving (the desserts are not Italian but who cares? Be “thankful” I baked):

Long-cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce (recipe below)

Pasta with Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese

Zucchini Carpaccio (not seasonal but we love it)

Green Beans Almondine by Baked Bree

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs (it’s by Giada, so I am pretending it is Italian)

Curried Carrot/Any Squash Soup (I have to throw in the curry – you can’t run from your heritage)

Compost Cookies (very American and a great way to use up leftover Halloween Candy that is still lurking around)

Honey Walnut Cake

and a late addition because I just came across it: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake also by Baked Bree

How’s that for a new Thanksgiving tradition? 🙂

Long-cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce by Michael Chiarello


Serves: Serves 4, with lots of leftover sauce (freeze extra)

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 6 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, partially pureed through a meat grinder or food mill or pulsed in a blender
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley


Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 20 minutes more.

Add the wine and scrape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any flavorful stuck-on bits. Add the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper to taste. Taste and add more salt if needed. It is important to add enough salt, so that the chicken seasons as it cooks.

Place the chicken, breast side down, in the sauce, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Transfer the pot to the oven. Cook uncovered until the chicken is very tender, about 2 hours, spooning the sauce over the chicken from time to time. Stir in the basil and parsley and cook for 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let the chicken cool in the sauce.

Serve the chicken warm with a little sauce spooned over it, or reheat the sauce separately and serve it over pasta as a first course with the chicken as a main course. Any remaining sauce can be frozen.