Using the Fowl Before It Turns Foul

Turkey sandwiches are great, of course, but what about Turkey Diablo, Turkey Monte Christo, and Turkey Wild Rice Soup? Chefs across the country weigh in on what to do with all those fowl leftovers.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Okay. Let's say you did not spend this Thanksgiving weekend slamming your opponent's serve across the ping-pong net, and instead, spent the last few days staggering between the sofa and the refrigerator to eat leftovers - the universal offspring of the Thanksgiving feast. What to do with them depends on the cook. So we called a few people to hear what they're doing with all that turkey.

Mr. JONATHAN REYNOLDS (Author, "Wrestling with Gravy: A Life, with Food"): I'm Jonathan Reynolds. And I'm the author of "Wrestling with Gravy."

HANSEN: Jonathan, tell us about a dish that you make out of leftovers called Turkey Diablo.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, this is quite an experimental dish. It's based on Deviled Beef Bones. And I mix up some mustard and black pepper and a little bit of flour, some horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and get it into the consistency of a fairly loose paste and then spread it over the remains of the turkey. Put it on the oven for about 30 minutes and it can go sometimes 350, 400 degrees until it gets a little crisp and firm. And then, bring it out of the oven and it's a spicy leftover turkey dish.

HANSEN: You've made me so hungry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. REYNOLDS: Because really - I mean, the absolute best thing, of course, to make with leftover turkey is that sandwich. That's just one of the great gifts to cuisine, I think.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JIMMY BRIMWELL(ph) (Restaurant Trainer, Gateway Travel Plaza): My name is Jimmy Brimwell. I'm the restaurant trainer here at the Gateway Travel Plaza in Breezewood.

HANSEN: Breezewood, Pennsylvania.

Mr. BRIMWELL: Uh-huh.

HANSEN: A truck stop heaven.

Mr. BRIMWELL: Yes, it is. We do have plenty of truck drivers and travelers.

HANSEN: How popular are the turkey and the various leftovers with your customers?

Mr. BRIMWELL: Oh, my. It's always a popular item.

HANSEN: Yeah?

Mr. BRIMWELL: Like our own light turkey sandwich, a turkey Monte Cristo.

HANSEN: Oh.

Mr. BRIMWELL: You take two pieces of Texas bread and you dip it halfway down into an egg batter, like a French toast mix, put it on the grill. Then you'll put Swiss cheese on each side and put ham between it. Serve it with syrup.

HANSEN: And you do that with turkey.

Mr. BRIMWELL: Mm-hmm. You can have a ham Monte Cristo or a turkey Monte Cristo.

HANSEN: Wow. Turkey with syrup?

Mr. BRIMWELL: Mm-hmm. Well, it's going to taste like a French toast mix in your sandwich. You have to give it a try.

HANSEN: I will.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SCOTT TURLEY (Managing Chef, Grinnell College): This is Scott Turley, managing chef from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

HANSEN: Happy Thanksgiving, Scott.

Mr. TURLEY: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

HANSEN: How many did you feed?

Mr. TURLEY: Way around 240.

HANSEN: What are you doing with the turkey?

Mr. TURLEY: We will break those off the carcass as quickly as possible. And then, we will move them into our blast chiller. And then we would package it up and freeze it for leftovers that we have on our menu. So we kind of plan leftovers into our menu already.

HANSEN: Do you have anything special that just screams Grinnell, Iowa?

Mr. TURLEY: We do. Our cream turkey with wild rice soup. Actually it's one that we have created and it has wild rice in it. It has almonds in it. Cream the turkey, onion, celery, carrots. And then we simmer all those things together. And it comes out as a pretty nice soup.

HANSEN: Your leftovers are going to last until graduation.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TURLEY: No. We use them pretty fast.

HANSEN: And everyone we spoke to brought up the ubiquitous leftover casserole.

Mr. TURLEY: A turkey tetrazzini, we will probably serve about 450 servings of that.

Mr. BRIMWELL: Turkey tetrazzini, we actually put that on our buffet.

HANSEN: Do you use cream of mushroom soup?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Yeah, the universal recipe extender in a mushroom soup.

HANSEN: Do you use of cream of mushroom soup?

Mr. BRIMWELL: Yes, we do.

HANSEN: Who doesn't?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: For the definitive recipe for turkey tetrazzini, there was only one person we could turn to.

Ms. LOUISE KING(ph): I'm Mrs. Louise King and I'm from New York City.

HANSEN: Mrs. King worked in Family Circle Magazine's test kitchen in the 1950s. She's the mother of six children and the mother-in-law of our director, Ned Wharton.

Mrs. King, what's your recipe?

Ms. KING: My recipe is celery and mushroom sauteed in butter, and then all the little pieces that you've taken off the turkey carcass chopped up, and then good old Mrs. Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, and boil some spaghetti. We used to call it. It's not pasta back in the '50s. It was spaghetti.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KING: So you boil some spaghetti.

HANSEN: How did your family receive this dish over the years?

Ms. KING: Adored it and I cannot make it Christmas and Thanksgiving. One thing I forgot, a little dab of Worcestershire sauce…

HANSEN: Ah.

Ms. KING: …to go into the sauce.

HANSEN: Mrs. King and all the people we called know that one day - probably some time this week - turkey becomes a dreaded word. WEEKEND EDITION editor Laura Krantz hunted at a poem from her childhood that perfectly describes that moment.

LAURA KRANTZ: Thanksgiving has been over for at least a week or two. But we're still all eating turkey: turkey salad, turkey stew, turkey pots and turkey pudding, turkey patties, turkey pies, turkey bisque and turkey burgers, turkey fritters, turkey fries.

For lunch, our mother made us turkey slices on a stick. There'll be turkey tarts for supper. All these turkey makes me sick. For tomorrow, she's preparing turkey dumplings stuffed with peas. Oh, I never thought I'd say this, mother, no more turkey, please.

(Soundbite of song "Cold Turkey")

THE BEATLES (British Band): (Singing) Cold turkey has got me on the run.

HANSEN: The poem "Leftovers" from the 1982 book, "It's Thanksgiving" by Jack Prelutsky. It was read by NPR's Laura Krantz.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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