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Three chefs add spice to turkey leftovers

A turkey-pomegranate salad is made with turkey, greens,

A turkey-pomegranate salad is made with turkey, greens, pomegranate and almonds at Trata, a Greek restaurant in Roslyn, by the restaurant's executive chef, Luis Falcon. (Nov. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Jesse Newman

Thanksgiving meals are remarkably consistent across ethnic borders. Whether your family arrived at Plymouth Rock or JFK, today you are probably consuming some variation on roast turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

But tomorrow is another story. It's in the creative exploitation of leftovers that home cooks let their national flags wave.

Newsday consulted an international array of chefs to discover some global ideas for repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers. If you are considering making a turkey sandwich on white bread, hold off and read on.


Amardeep "Dolly" Kaur and her husband, Jagtar Singh Cheema, owners of two Kiran Palace locations (6092 Jericho Tpke., Commack, 631-462-0003, 516-796-2600 516-796-2600; 2934 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown516-796-2600


2934 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown

516-796-2600, emigrated as young adults from India's Punjab region. This dish, chicken tikka masala, is more popular in the Indian disapora than it is on the subcontinent. Almost every Indian restaurant in the United States and the United Kingdom serves a version, and almost every version is different. Since it is traditionally made with leftover tandoori chicken, making it with leftover turkey is an eminently sensible variation. Sarwan Singh, chef at Kiran Palace in Commack, uses cream to round out the sauce. You could also use coconut milk.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, very finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 to 2 teaspoons pure chili powder (not a chili seasoning blend)

1 1/2 cups tomato puree

3/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1 pound turkey, skinned and cubed

1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala (see note)

Basmati rice for serving

1. In a large skillet, combine vegetable oil and onion, garlic and ginger. Cook over low-medium heat, not allowing anything to brown, until onion is translucent and soft, about 15 minutes. Add the chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, cream, salt, pepper, turn up heat to medium-high; simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add turkey and garam masala, turn down heat and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Garam masala is an Indian spice mixture. You can buy it at Indian and specialty markets, or you can make your own. To preserve the flavor of the spices, grind them at the last minute. Here's a recipe from "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey" (Knopf, $35): Combine 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds, 1/3 of a nutmeg (hit it with a hammer to break it), a 3-inch length of cinnamon stick, (also broken up) and 1 teaspoon each whole cloves, whole black peppercorns and whole cumin seeds. Makes about 3 tablespoons.


Biryanis are fragrant rice pilafs, often quite elaborate. Here's a simple one featuring leftover turkey.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 to 2 teaspoons pure chili powder (not a chili seasoning blend)

2 tablespoons sliced almonds (or a combination of almonds and raw cashews)

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Salt and pepper

1 pound turkey, skinned and cubed

4 tablespoons tomato puree

2 cups warm cooked basmati rice

Over medium, heat oil in a large skillet. Add garam masala and chili powder and saute for a minute until spices become fragrant. Add nuts and raisins, salt and pepper, turkey and tomato puree. Simmer for a few minutes, until turkey is warmed through, then add rice and stir to combine. Makes 4 servings.


Luis Falcon, Mexican-born executive chef of Roslyn's swanky Greek restaurant Trata (1446 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, 516-625-2600,, isn't working today. That is, he won't be working at the restaurant, which is closed. Instead he'll be cooking dinner for about 15 people in his Brooklyn home. Turkey with chestnut, thyme and wild rice stuffing will be accompanied by roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta, pomegranate-barbecue ribs, roasted wild mushrooms and rosemary fingerling potatoes. Tomorrow, he may well turn the turkey and mushrooms into these enchiladas. When Falcon was growing up in Mexico, his mother, also a restaurant chef, made these enchiladas, and Falcon follows her recipe pretty much to the letter.


1 pound ripe tomatoes

1 medium white onion, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 dried chipotle pepper or 2 tablespoons canned chipotle in adobo

Salt and pepper


Vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

1 pound mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake or any combination thereof) sliced

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cooked turkey (preferably dark meat)

4 corn tortillas

1/3 cup shredded queso (or quesillo) Oaxaca cheese, or mozzarella or Monterey Jack

Thinly sliced white onion, for garnish

Avocado slices, for garnish

Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic and chipotle pepper on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Seal into a package and bake for 20 minutes, then transfer contents to blender and process until smooth. Pass through a strainer to catch seeds and skin. (Alternately, you could use a food mill instead of a blender.) Season with salt and pepper.

2. Film a wide, lidded skillet (or Dutch oven) with oil. Add garlic and saute over medium heat until garlic is fragrant. Add mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of water, season with salt and pepper, stir and then cover pan. It will take about 10 minutes for mushrooms to give up their liquid. When they do, uncover pan, turn up heat and saute until pan is almost dry. Remove garlic, add shredded turkey and turn down heat. Cook gently, stirring until turkey is mixed with mushrooms and heated through.

3. Brush tortillas with a little oil on both sides. In the center of each place 1/4 of the turkey-mushroom mixture. Roll them up and place, overlap-down, in a baking dish. Top with about 1 cup of sauce and the shredded cheese. Bake until cheese melts. Top with onion slices, avocado slices and then drizzle with olive oil. Makes 4 appetizer servings, two main courses.


This refreshing salad blends Greek, Latino and American flavors. The ingredients and proportions can be varied according to preference and availability. To cut jicama, radish and pear into julienne: Cut them into 1/8-inch slices, stack the slices, and then cut into 1/8-inch matchsticks. All ingredients can be prepped in advance except the pear, which should be julienned at the last minute so it doesn't turn brown.

4 cups baby arugula

1/4 cup julienned jicama

1/4 cup julienned watermelon radish (or regular radish)

1/4 cup julienned pear

Pomegranate dressing (see recipe)

1 pound sliced turkey breast

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

In a large bowl, combine arugula with jicama, radish and pear. Dress lightly with a few spoonfuls of pomegranate dressing, then arrange on a platter. Surround salad with turkey slices, top with feta, almonds and sprinkle pomegranate seeds around. Drizzle with a little more dressing. Makes 4 servings.


1 cup pomegranate juice

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1/4 cup sherry vinegar (or balsamic)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch black pepper

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender, process all ingredients except oil. With blender running, drizzle in oil until dressing is smooth and thick.


Carole Olkoski loves Thanksgiving. Merrick's RS Jones (53 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-378-7177,, the Cajun-Southern restaurant she owns with Margaret Mueller, is closed for the holiday, and the couple is going to Olkoski's aunt in Glen Cove where she will neither cook nor "wash one dish." But any leftover turkey may find its way into this deep, dark, Cajun stew.

1 1/2 ribs celery

1/2 medium Spanish onion

1/2 small red pepper

1/2 cup peanut oil

1 cup flour

1 (35-ounce) can whole tomatoes (4 cups)

1 quart turkey stock or low-salt chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon file powder (available at specialty markets)

1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon table salt

1 quart leftover turkey, skinned

1. Chop celery, onion, red pepper. This is the Cajun "trinity." Set aside.

2. In a cast-iron (or other heavy) skillet, heat oil over medium. When it's hot enough that a pinch of flour sizzles, add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, continuously, until mixture is the color of milk chocolate, a good 5 minutes. (This is the roux.) If mixture is too crumbly, add a little oil. Add "trinity" and continue to cook until vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes more. Set aside.

3. Into a stock pot, pour tomatoes and crush them with your hands. Add turkey stock, thyme, basil, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, file, hot sauce and salt and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add trinity-roux mixture and stir well to combine. Add turkey and simmer slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes. Makes about 2 quarts of gumbo.


Here, Carole Olkoski enriches her basic cornbread with leftover cranberry sauce. Either homemade or canned whole-berry will work.

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

Nonstick spray or shortening

1 1/2 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce or 1 (12-ounce) can

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Once oven is hot, place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside to heat.

2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well with a fork or whisk.

3. Combine butter, honey and sugar in a microwavable bowl and heat until just melted, a few minutes on medium heat (or use a double boiler.) Let mixture cool a little. Whisk together eggs and milk, then add them to honey-butter mixture. Whisk all the while so eggs do not curdle.

4. Take cast-iron skillet out of the oven (using oven mitts). Spray with nonstick spray or wipe with shortening. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix swiftly with a spatula. Pour this into the hot pan. Pour cranberry sauce over batter and then swirl in with a knife as if you're making a marble cake. Place pan back in oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until top is golden and a cake tester comes out nearly dry, about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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