Are you making enough turkey on Thursday? Are you making too much? And are you making too much on purpose?
For many of us, half of food fun of Thanksgiving is having plenty of leftovers. In many cases, that’s because we need and deserve a break from heavy-duty cooking the day or two after Thanksgiving. But it also can be fun to repurpose all those Thanksgiving dishes into something new.
With help from a couple local chefs, here are some ideas to try this weekend.
Jay Pierce, the chef of Mozelle’s who used to work in Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans, shared his recipe for turkey gumbo. He actually often serves it at Christmastime, but it’s made from the frozen turkey meat and broth he cooked at Thanksgiving.
“My granny always had a pot of gumbo sitting on the back of the stove for holidays, and you’d fix yourself a bowl while you waited for the meal proper to begin,” he said.
Pierce notes that this makes a big batch for a crowd. But it can be halved as needed.
Starting with cooked turkey and prepared broth, this recipe is quick and easy for a gumbo, partly because it doesn’t use a time-consuming roux. “This is a Creole gumbo, as opposed to a Cajun gumbo,” Pierce said. “It has no roux; it is thickened by okra and is therefore gluten-free. If you have gumbo file (ground sassafrass leaves), add a sprinkle to each individual bowl, as a garnish.”
Pierce uses a combination of Worcestershire sauce and Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) for color and flavor. The latter also adds saltiness, but Pierce said that the recipe is intentionally light on salt. “I like to add hot sauce and salt to my bowl of gumbo (at the table), with chopped green onions (and a dollop of potato salad on the side of the bowl).”
Chef Dion Sprenkle sent me a recipe that he recently demonstrated for turkey breast made with his own Chermoula seasoning, which he makes and sells. Chermoula is a marinade or seasoning common in North African cooking.
Sprenkle’s original recipe called for cooking the turkey from scratch. I’ve simplified the recipe to incorporate leftovers. I did include Sprenkle’s recipe for Chermoula, but for people who don’t have that on hand, I’ve streamlined the spices down to their primary ingredients — cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne. A little good-quality curry powder adds complexity to the dish.
The seasoned turkey combines with orange, cranberries and couscous for a dish reminiscent of Thanksgiving yet utterly transformed by flavors from halfway around the world.
Finally, for people who really don’t want to cook, I’ve included a salad that uses cooked turkey in combination with avocados, feta cheese, croutons and more.
The real holiday touch to the salad is a vinaigrette that can be made with leftover cranberry sauce. I combine the cranberry sauce with some fresh orange juice to thin it and tame the sweetness. The only “cooking” involved here is warming the cranberry sauce to help it blend with the orange juice and oil. I recommend a neutral oil here; the flavor of olive oil tends to interfere with the flavor of the cranberries.
This salad also has the advantage of being cool, light and healthy — a sometimes needed contrast to the big feast of the day before.