A Thanksgiving postmortem


Thanksgiving is a funny holiday - one of angst and thanks. We anguish over the menu, shop and cook our hearts out, stuff ourselves silly, give gratitude for a bountiful table and then grapple over what to do with the leftover turkey - roughly 200 million pounds of uneaten fowl coast to coast.

Here are some hypothetical celebrity suggestions: Patrick Dempsey, the McDreamy doc on “Grey’s Anatomy,” might surgically dissect a McTurkey sandwich with McGravy on McRye while Bill Maher would smoke his.

Bridget Moynahan would throw away her tom (Brady), Roseanne Barr would chew hers up and spit him out (Arnold) and Katie Holmes might donate hers to Scientology (Cruise).

Finally, Paris Hilton would probably make a turkey breast salad, hold the dressing.

On a more serious note: If you want to do something creative and scrumptious with your turkey so your family won’t be squawking as they typically choke down the leftover cardboard ad nauseam for the next few days, try morphing its ethnicity.

Do a Mexican fiesta with turkey tacos, quesadillas, chili or enchiladas, or an Italian banquet with a turkey lasagna or a pasta fazool. Have a yen for Asian and make moo shoo turkey or egg foo young. Or, whip up a Yankee Doodle dandy shepherd’s pie with the leftover sweet potatoes and shredded turkey, make a stock pot of turkey noodle soup with the carcass or a turkey Cobb salad.

Spanish paella with turkey sausage and chunks of turkey is always a crowd pleaser, or do Middle Eastern with turkey lemon soup, turkey chunks tossed in a Greek salad or stuffed pitas with shredded turkey and veggies. How about a Hungarian turkey goulash, Japanese turkey tempura or a French omelet with turkey strips and herbes de Provence?

My contributions are a light and easy Asian lettuce wrap recipe that can be an appetizer or snack and a wild mushroom risotto for a lunch or dinner main course. Thanks to my culinary mentor, Patrick Lowe, food and beverage director at Paradise Point Resort & Spa, I have honed this recipe to near perfection. And after all my suggestions, if there’s still leftover turkey, try stuffing embroidered pillowcases for some interesting holiday gifts. Gobble, gobble.

Asian turkey lettuce wraps

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of chopped or cubed turkey
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • A few springs of fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • 4 ounces of sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup of slivered carrots (1 inch)
  • 1/8 cup of sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)
  • 10 firm iceberg lettuce leaves
In a wok, heat the oil and saute the scallions and carrots. Slowly add the sugar, water chestnuts and turkey. Toss with the hoisin sauce and cilantro until evenly blended and heated. Spoon the mixture onto lettuce leaves. Garnish with crunchy rice threads and serve with extra hoisin sauce for dipping.

Post-Thanksgiving risotto

  • 12 oz. Arborio rice
  • 4 cups of warm chicken stock
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. of dry white wine
  • 8 asparagus stalks, cut in thirds diagonally
  • 8 oz. of assorted wild mushrooms, brown crimini, oyster, shiitake, sliced
  • 1 cup turkey, chunked
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium and saute the onion, mushroom and asparagus until tender. Add the rice and stir until coated. Blend in the turkey chunks.
Add the wine and stir until it’s evaporated. Then add a cup of the stock, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this, adding one cup at a time until all the stock is absorbed.

Stir in the grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy immediately.