Local restaurateurs share Thanksgiving leftover secrets

by April Lisante
Posted 11/25/20

So you sprung for the 20-pound turkey because you couldn’t find a smaller one. Better yet, you earned a free turkey at your local grocery store, and you happily loaded that 25-pound prize into …

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Local restaurateurs share Thanksgiving leftover secrets


So you sprung for the 20-pound turkey because you couldn’t find a smaller one. Better yet, you earned a free turkey at your local grocery store, and you happily loaded that 25-pound prize into your cart, never considering the consequences.

Today is Turkey Day. It’s time to face those consequences. Aunt May, Uncle Joe, all the cousins, and perhaps even your parents aren’t coming to dinner this year to avoid having a large virus-spreader of a gathering. Now you estimate that, by the end of the day, you’ll have approximately 10 to 15 pounds of leftover meat.

I’m in the same boat. And when it comes to leftovers, I am sick of those turkey sandwiches that get stacked with cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing. How cute. The same meal we had the day prior, except we put the stuffing on bread. When else do we put stuffing on bread? And why would we do it right after eating it on a plate the day before?

There are many more interesting things we can do with turkey leftovers, especially this year, when we will have a lot superfluous meat.

I always loved that scene from Forrest Gump when Gump and his military friend, who plan to open a shrimp restaurant, spend the better part of a day scrubbing a military floor with toothbrushes while they name all the ways they plan to serve up shrimp kebobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo and coconut shrimp. Turkey is just as versatile.

 At the Chestnut Grill & Sidewalk Café, owner John Arena loves a nice turkey ribollita soup, a Tuscan favorite with cannellini beans. And at the Chestnut Hill Brewing Company Taproom, chef Kevin Kilroy means a mean turkey pot pie with his leftovers.

McNally’s Tavern owner Meg McNally swears by “The Joy of Cooking” recipe for turkey Tetrazzini. Her sister Anne McNally loves when she makes it for the family. They don’t make it at McNally’s. It’s their own post-Thanksgiving tradition.

“It’s so easy, it’s like a casserole,” Anne McNally said. “With breadcrumbs on top. It uses all the leftovers.”

Chestnut Hill native Carl Drake, chef at the new Mimi’s Café & Market at the Top of the Hill, makes a hash brown side dish at the café. After Thanksgiving, he fine-tunes it to make a turkey hash.

“The old turkey sandwiches can be a little bit boring,” Drake said. “Turkey hash you can serve as a breakfast, or a side dish with your dinner. It’s pretty easy for anyone to make.”

If you’re looking for a really unique way to use up the whole turkey, juices and all, chef Karla Salinas of Karla’s Kitchen in Flourtown offered her favorite post-Thanksgiving recipe.

She makes a marinara pasta dish using turkey juices and dark meat that looks Italian but has layers of added flavor.

“Sometimes, I like to put a little bit of Port wine in it,” Salinas said. “I love it!”

Chefs shared their own personal turkey leftover recipes with you. Happy Thanksgiving, and happy sitting on the couch eating leftovers through the weekend!

Karla Salinas’s Turkey Pasta

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 or 5 dried plums
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 ½ jars favorite marinara sauce
  • Dark turkey meat, chopped
  • Juices of turkey
  • 1 lb. pasta, cooked

Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add turkey, juices, fruits, oregano and sauce. Simmer sauce until incorporated. Top with parmesan cheese and serve on top of favorite pasta.

Meg McNally’s Joy of Cooking Turkey Tetrazzini

  • 2 to 3 cups turkey meat, shredded
  • ½ pound macaroni or spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • ½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • ½ to ¾ pound sauteed mushrooms
  • To make the sauce, combine:
  • 3 Tbs. butter or turkey fat
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 2 cups turkey broth
  • 1 cup heated whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375. Add half the sauce to the turkey and half to the pasta and mushrooms. Place the macaroni in a greased baking dish. Make a hole in the center. Place the turkey in it. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake until lightly browned and heated through.

Carl Drake’s Turkey Hash

  • 1 lb. potatoes, cubed
  • ½ lb. turkey meat, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup turkey stock
  • Fresh parsley, to taste

Sautee onion in olive oil until golden. Add potatoes and sauté until golden. Throw in turkey meat along with turkey stock and simmer until heated through. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

John Arena’s Turkey Ribollita Soup with Parmesan Croutons

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 15-oz. can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-oz. can plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups cooked turkey
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 baguette

In a soup pot, sauté onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Stir frequently.

Add chicken stock, beans and plum tomatoes to sauteed vegetables and herbs. Simmer 20 minutes. Blanch spinach in salted water. Drain, squeeze out excess water and chop.

Add spinach and cooked turkey to soup base above. Simmer 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

For croutons: Cut baguette in ½-inch rounds, place on a greased pan, top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 until light brown. Ladle soup into bowls and top with croutons.