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Yummy Leftover Turkey Recipes and Great Class Savings

By Jane Butel  November 30, 2021

I hope your Thanksgiving  was deliciously happy!  Our's was.  And, the next day we put up the Christmas tree.  Then it was leftover time and I froze meal sized servings of turkey and the trimmings.  I like to place enough turkey in each freezer weight bag for a 2-person serving  and then I can index the amount  needed for future recipes like the favorites I am sharing here, which are Turkey Chili Tetrazzini and Turkey Chili with a Margarita Splash.  Adding a bit of green or red chile, really  adds a great deal of personality and health to each recipe.

Speaking of chile health, I was  very pleased to see a recent  article on the internet that featured  9 benefits of health from chiles.  (However, once again the writer called them peppers--but they are chiles .  As you may recall, the pepper-chile confusion is credited to Christopher Columbus, who thought if he called the chiles he discovered in the new world peppers--that the Europeans would think they were a substitute to the familiar black  pepper.  Needless to say, the idea did not sell.)The 9 Benefits are:

1. they will banish headaches by spraying some up your nose.  

2. Help you live longer

3.  A whiff of chile stops a runny nose if it's not from a cold, allergies or cigarette smoke.

4.  Helps weight loss

5.  Helps control pain as the brain gets confused, thinking the pain is from the  heat of the chiles.

6.   Capsaicin in creams and lotions helps quash pain.

7.  Chiles help kill cells linked to cancer. 

8. Chiles help kill germs and other microorganisms that cause spoilage

9.  Chiles pack major health perks.  They beat oranges in Vitamin C.  They also are stuffed with vitamins A, B and E.  All helping to protect your cells and help tamp down inflammation.

The major message. EAT MORE CHILE!

 Back to dealing with leftovers.  Sunday, I boiled the turkey bones in water with some chicken bouillon base, celery and fresh sage.  After about 2 two hours of simmering, I let it cool, then removed the bits of turkey from the bones and strained the broth.  Then I chopped carrots and a little bit of celery and brought them to a simmer until they were tender, then added the  turkey bits and egg noodles and simmered them together for about five minutes, tasted and adjusted the flavor which was amazing, just needing a tiny bit of salt.  I let it cool, then I bagged off the soup in 2 1/2 cup ladles portions, making seven two person servings. 

Our cooking classes make for great gifts.   Just contact me at 505-243-2622 or at info@janebutelcooking.com and we will make an attractive Gift Certificate.   All of our classes are 10% off now until December 24.  Also, you may purchase a gift certificate for any price above $25.00 for our pure, natural chiles and products for New Mexican cooking.  Each of the certificates is valid for a year.

Here are the two promised recipes.  The Tetrazzini can be make as a casserole or chili.


A takeoff to be sure of a favorite leftover turkey dish—tetrazzini—with a chili twist.   Tetrazinni is a casserole in which cooked turkey or chicken is layered with cooked thin spahetti and a sherried mushroom sauce (according to legend, it was first created  for an opera singer of the same name).  This soup-like chili has the same basic ingredients, plus green chiles.  I really prefer using fresh chiles here--they're more attractive than the canned or frozen varieties.  If making as a casserole dish, omit the chicken broth.   Layer the pasta  with turkey pieces and the sauce.  Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs on top and bake  For a quick preparation, use a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and omit the mushroom sauce ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup green chile ribbons, cut in ¾ inch width-wise slices (about 6 to 8 fresh green chiles, parched, peeled and sliced (can use frozen or 2, 4 ounce cans—the appearance will not be as attractive)

3 cups chicken broth, omit for a casserole preparation and use 1 cup cream

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms or equivalent canned

4 ounces vermicelli or thin spaghetti

1 Tablespoon cumin, divided, omit for casserole

¼ cup dry sherry

3 cups leftover turkey, diced (about 1 ½ pounds)

½ cup grated Romano or Parmesan

4 Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs

8 sticks of grisini, optional--omit for casserole (thin Italian bread sticks)

  1. Add oil to a flat- bottomed, large pot.  *Then add the onion and cook until it is clear. Add the garlic, chiles, broth, mushrooms, spaghetti and one-half the cumin. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the flavors blend. Add the sherry.
  2. Add the turkey and cook about 5 more minutes. Add remaining cumin, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with curls of freshly grated cheese, a sprig of parsley and criss-crossed bread sticks, poking out of the soup.

If making a casserole, butter a  two to 3 quart casserole dish, then create the sauce, adding the oil to a 3 quart saucepan, then the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft.  Add the mushrooms and stir and cook, until the mushrooms become limp.   Then  add the cream and sherry and cook and stir until slightly thickened.  For a quicker, easier, sauce, Heat a can of cream  of mushroom sauce thinned with 1/2 cup  cream and the sherry, adding a small can of mushroom slices if desired.

Add a l layer of pasta to bottom of casserole, then a layer of turkey, cover with sauce and repeat.   Sprinkle the top with a layer of Parmesan buttered bread cumbs and bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.  To serve, add a parsley sprig  to plate  onthe side of the pasta.



Leftover roast turkey makes a marvelous curtain call when served in this chili. Lacking any leftover turkey, or roast turkey from a deli, quickly saute ground turkey for about 2 minutes in the microwave oven or a bit longer on the stovetop. You can vary this chili in endless ways—for instance, by using navy or cannellini beans or red chiles instead of the green. Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas for a complete light meal. This is a “Sunday Best” recipe.

 COOKING TIME: 15 minutes

YIELD: 4 servings 

1 medium onion, chopped

1, 14½-ounce can low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth

1, 4-ounce can chopped green chilies or 2 or more Tablespoons mild or heft red chile powder

1 15¼-ounce can black beans

2 cups chopped, cooked turkey or 1 pound ground skinless turkey breast or chicken, sauteéd (see *Note)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin 

optional garnishes

1 lime

Jigger of tequila 

  1. Place the onions in a cold, heavy saucepan. Saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown on the edges. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion darkens or caramelizes in its own juices. Immediately add the broth, chiles, beans, turkey, and half the cumin. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes—then stir in the other half of the cumin.
  2. Serve with about a teaspoon or so each of freshly squeezed lime juice and tequila. 

*NOTE: To saute the ground turkey in the microwave oven, break up the lumps, place in a microwavable bowl, and cover. Cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and cook longer if needed. To cook on the stovetop, place the turkey (as above) in a cold, well-seasoned skillet and saute over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. 

PER SERVING: Calories 241, Protein 29 g, Carbohydrates 21 g, Fiber 7 g, Fat 5 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 55 mg, Sodium 763 mg. (Analyzed without the tequila or lime juice.)

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