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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Jennifer Chandler

It’s a dilemma we all face each year … “What to do with all that leftover turkey?!”

Our family has the bad habit of always buying the biggest turkey we can find. So needless to say, we have lots of leftovers.


We all love a good turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. But by Saturday, no one wants to see, let alone eat, anything else that resembles our Thanksgiving feast.


This year, I encourage you to transform your leftovers into a tasty new dish that you can enjoy during the holiday weekend or freeze for a quick and easy meal on a busy night.


The key to remember is that turkey is a delicious substitute for chicken in most of your favorite recipes.


Every year I try to come up with different ways to give my leftover turkey a “makeover.”


Some years I make pot pies or enchiladas. Occasionally I make a big pot of gumbo. Shredded turkey meat is also great on pizza. A cobb salad might be the perfect “lighter” fare you need over the holiday weekend.


White Bean Chili is so simple to prepare and delicious that it has become one of my favorite go-to’s for leftover chicken … and turkey! Be sure to check on-line for the recipe.


When trying to decide which recipe for your leftover turkey, look for dishes that freeze well. If your family is tired of turkey right now, then the dish can be frozen to enjoy later. No wasting any of that delicious meat!


This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Happy Thanksgiving!



White Bean Turkey Chili


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
  • 1/3 cup seeded and finely diced poblano pepper (1/2 pepper)
  • 1 can (4.5-ounce) diced green chilies
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 4 cans (15-ounce) cannellini beans (do not drain or rinse)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion and poblano pepper and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the green chilies and sauté until combined, about 1 minute.


Add the chicken stock, turkey, beans, thyme, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 35 to 40 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.


Serve hot. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, sliced jalapenos, and fresh cilantro, if desired.


Serves 6.


Cooking Tip: A flavorful staple of Mexican cuisine, poblano peppers are chile peppers that are spicy but not extremely fiery. They look similar to bell peppers in shape but they are a much darker green. Most markets now carry fresh poblanos, but if you cannot find them at your neighborhood store, substitute bell peppers for a milder chili or jalapenos for more heat.



Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.