Turkey Leftovers (Round One)

Thanksgiving is an enjoyable meal, but, in many ways, it’s more about the company than the food. I love what can be created from Thanksgiving leftovers. A 28-pound turkey for 9 people was no mistake. I was planning for leftovers.

On Friday, we had repeat Thanksgiving for lunch and dinner, that is, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, and, for me, pink jello mold. Now, it’s time to move on to creative use of leftovers.

The day before Thanksgiving, I always make a pot of turkey stock from any turkey parts in the freezer. Usually, I use the stock for the gravy and the stuffing, to maximize the turkeyness. Any leftover stock can be used to make turkey soup. As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post, we ended up with a tremendous amount of liquid in the roasting pan. It was enough for the gravy and the stuffing, with more left over. That leaves 6 quarts of day-before turkey stock in the refrigerator!

First order of business is a LARGE pot of turkey barley soup. This soup couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is cut things up and cook them in the pot. It’s quite flexible. Depending on what’s on hand, I’ve made it with different vegetables than these. I’ve also done this with orzo or other tiny pasta instead of barley. Here’s today’s version. (Normally, I make 2/3 of this recipe, but I was trying to make a dent in the stock.)

Turkey Barley Soup

3 cups sliced leeks (about 2 leeks)
2 cups sliced celery (about 4 stalks)
2 cups sliced carrots (about 4 carrots)
3 quarts (12 cups) turkey stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1½ cups pearl barley
2 cups diced cooked turkey

Combine vegetables, stock, and barley in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Barley should be tender. Add turkey, stir, and heat until turkey is warmed up. Serve.


  • Parsnips, sliced like the carrots, or quartered mushrooms are nice additions.
  • Substitute 1 cup dried orzo for the barley. Don’t add at the beginning, but after about 45 minutes. Cook until tender. Then add the turkey.

Another thing I like to make with Thanksgiving leftovers is turkey pot pie. My recipe has evolved over many, many years of leftovers. This is where any leftover vegetables usually end up. The gravy too, though I often need to make more gravy to have enough. My pot pies have a lot more vegetables than meat because that’s my preference. You could adjust according to your own tastes.

We had a nice assortment left from the veggies that Laury brought to Thanksgiving dinner: red and yellow beets, turnips, pearl onions, and carrots. I also had some leftover roasted squash in the fridge. I steamed some carrots and parsnips to round it out. This works with any combination of seasonal vegetables that you like. Here’s today’s version of turkey pot pie:

Turkey Pot Pie
(Serves 6-8)

1 Tbsp butter (I have to admit I used rendered turkey fat from the roasted bird)
1 or 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
6-7 cups of cooked vegetables (all the vegetables should be cut into bite-sized pieces, about ½ inch)
2 cups diced cooked turkey
2 cups turkey gravy (see below)
½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, or whatever you have)
Pot Pie Topping (see below)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large pot, melt the butter, and sauté the leeks until tender (about 5 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, and stir gently to combine well.

Pour filling into a 3-quart baking pan, and smooth the top.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pot pie topping to the size of your baking pan. Place the topping over the filling. It doesn’t have to cover exactly.

Bake for 30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and the topping is lightly brown.

Turkey Gravy

¼ cup turkey drippings or fat (if you don’t have that, use vegetable oil)
¼ cup Wondra flour
2 cups turkey stock

In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the hot fat. Whisk until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in turkey stock. Continue to whisk until the gravy thickens, about 5 more minutes.

Pot Pie Topping

1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp (½ stick) butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup milk

In the food processor, combine the dry ingredients. Add butter, and process until the butter is cut in. The mixture will resemble corn meal or coarse sand. Add the milk, and pulse until the dough comes together.

On a floured surface, gently knead the dough a few times before rolling it out.


Posted on 29 November 2009, in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Edith Hugentobler

    Dear Betsy: Read your recipe for ;turkey pot pie and it would be perfect for our (in the works) herbal cookbook. The Staten Island Herb Society uses it as a fund raiser. Do I use your name for credit on the page or another source? Am entering Laury’s sweet potato pecan pie.
    Best always.

    Edith Hugentobler

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