Holiday Risotto – Turkey Leftovers Recipe

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One year I cooked a 12 pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I knew it was going to be so much more bird than two people would ever eat but that is half the reason we cook big turkeys isn’t it? The leftovers are sometimes even better than the original meal! After the original meal we had a couple of nights of Thanksgiving redux and then I took the meat off of the bones and used the carcass to make turkey stock. I split the meat up into mixed bags of dark and light meat and popped them in the freezer for a night I might want to make a turkey leftovers recipe.

One of the recipes I created from those leftovers turned out to be a real favorite.  It’s now known as Holiday Risotto. By adding the flavors of the season and it turned out to be a really delicious meal. I’ll be making this one again any time I have leftover turkey. Chicken would work just as well. It was easy and it put a smile on both of our faces. I have used risotto many a time as a vehicle for leftovers – it is the perfect base; you can change the stock used, you can add whatever protein you’d like from meat to shellfish or use vegetables. See so very versatile!

Holiday Risotto from Leftover Turkey

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Holiday Risotto  

Serves 4 – 6

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 1/2 quarts chicken or turkey stock
1 cup white wine
2 cups leftover turkey cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper

Bring the stock to a simmer and keep it warm

Heat a heavy bottomed saute pan over medium high heat. When it is hot add the olive oil.
Add the garlic and swirl in the oil until it begins to get fragrant.
Add the arborio rice and stir in the hot oil until all of the grains are coated.
Add the white wine and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Add 2 – 3 ladles of stock to the rice and stir until it is absorbed. Keep doing this – stirring constantly – until you have about a cup of stock left in the pot. Turn the heat off under the stock.
Add the sage to the rice. Stir to mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Add the turkey and cheese to the rice with about half of the remaining stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the cranberries to the rice.  Stir to mix in well.
Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining stock and stir.

To serve: place in a bowl and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

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This really was yummy. The dried cranberries are what pulled it all together and gave it that real holiday flavor. The sage was the other note that was so reminiscent of Thanksgiving. I only used a little cheese to add a touch of tang – I didn’t want it to overwhelm the dish and it ended up being just right.


The pumpkin seeds added that little bit of crunch and slight nuttiness and balanced the tartness of the cranberries. All in all a wonderful way to use up leftover turkey. Serve this with a crisp salad with a honey lemon vinaigrette and you have a delightful dinner.



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