Admittedly, posting a recipe for turkey leftovers the day before Thanksgiving may be jumping the gun a little. But if I wait until next week to write about turkey leftovers, yours will likely be gone. (Mine will.) I always plan on cooking more turkey than we need on Thanksgiving; the leftovers are a big part of the experience. After that first turkey sandwich, though (and that’s dependent on procuring some really great gluten-free bread), I find myself looking for something slightly more creative.
I have my perennial leftover favorites: turkey and pepper-Jack burritos on corn tortillas, a creamy baked turkey and mushroom casserole with gluten-free pasta, and always a big pot of turkey and white bean soup. But that doesn’t stop me from testing new ideas, like turkey hash resting under a simply poached egg or a big pan of turkey Picadillo.
I first heard about Picadillo many years ago from a Cuban friend of mine. He brought leftovers to work one day, and I couldn’t resist the enticing smell as he was warming up a bowlful for lunch. His version (or more accurately, his mother’s version) combined sautéed ground beef with a savory tomato sauce kissed with spices like cumin and coriander. What intrigued me most–I maneuvered a taste–was the balance of sweet, tangy, and salty flavors all at once. When I pressed him for more information, I found out the dish also includes raisins, chopped olives, and a splash of vinegar. Imagine that combination! What really sealed the deal, though, was the way his particular version was served–on top of fried potatoes. This completely blew my mind. Sure, potatoes make a great side dish, but I had never seen anyone use them as a bed for something else. And I liked it.
Years later, I was working on a Thanksgiving leftovers article for the local paper and wondered how turkey would fare as Picadillo. Turns out it’s pretty darned good. Instead of using ground beef (though you could; add about a pound to the pan once the onions and peppers are cooked. Brown it and continue with the recipe, eliminating the turkey), I add diced leftover turkey. It’s not an authentic version, but tasty nonetheless. I serve the saucy stew over white rice, wrapped in corn tortillas, or occasionally over fried potatoes; a quick satisfying meal after a long week of cooking.
What are you preferred ways of using up leftover turkey? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section. ~LbR