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Chef's Hat: Finishing off the turkey

There are dozens of recipes giving ideas on ways to use that leftover turkey. Some looked quite appealing, some used ingredients most people would never have on hand, and some just required way too much effort. Illustration

Thanksgiving is a great day of family, friends and feasting. It is a well-planned meal with everyone's favorite dishes. The thing that usually gets overlooked is what to do with all the leftovers from that 20-pound turkey and all those trimmings.

Normally I have lots of things to experiment with when trying new recipes. Unfortunately, I didn't have mounds of leftover potatoes or green beans to try to use up in new recipes. So I decided with this column to dwell on just the basics - the turkey.

There are dozens of recipes giving ideas on ways to use that leftover turkey. Some looked quite appealing, some used ingredients most people would never have on hand, and some just required way too much effort.

These recipes are a bit more complicated than slapping a piece of turkey on a slice of bread and slathering on a bit of mayo. But I have simplified the recipes so you aren't spending a lot of time cooking over the holiday weekend.

It doesn't take a great deal of planning for these recipes. You can use whatever types of bread or variety of cheese you have on hand. The one thing I would not substitute is bacon - turkey and bacon are an ideal combination.

Sit back and enjoy the long holiday weekend with a scrumptious turkey sandwich. Happy Eating!

Turkey, Bacon & Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 3 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices thin cheddar cheese (or Swiss)
  • 2 large slices of turkey
  • 1/2 apple, thinly sliced

Spread butter or margarine on one side of each slice of bread. Place the bacon, turkey, apple and cheese on top of one slice (unbuttered side). Close the sandwich with the non-buttered side of the other slice of bread.

Place a small fry pan on the stove and warm up to medium heat. Place the sandwich in the pan; cover and cook until golden brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook until the cheese is melted and the other slice of bread is golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Slice in half and serve.

Turkey Cranberry Sandwich

  • Turkey slices
  • Swiss cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Pretzel buns
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • Lettuce
  • optional Tomato slices
  • optional Cucumber slices
  • optional Thinly sliced red onions
  • optional Salt Pepper Butter or margarine for buns

Combine mayonnaise and cranberry sauce. Start with 1/3 cup cranberry sauce and mix with the mayo. Add a small amount of salt and pepper; taste. If desired, add additional cranberry sauce up to 1/2 cup.

If desired, buns can be warmed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice open buns and lightly butter each side. Bake in oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until buns are warmed and slightly browned.

Spread a generous amount of cranberry mayonnaise on one side of the bun. Put on slices of turkey, top with Swiss cheese. Add whatever vegetables you desire. Top with other half of bun. Slice in half and serve.

Turkey with Avocado, Bacon & Balsamic Marmalade

Adapted from "Wichcraft," a sandwich book by Tom Colicchio

  • Turkey slices (enough for 4 sandwiches)
  • 8 cooked bacon slices
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, halved and sliced
  • Mayonnaise
  • Balsamic
  • onion
  • marmalade


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Make the marmalade:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions appear a bit dry. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. The onions should be soft and dry. This can be used on several types of sandwiches. Keep in a tightly sealed container and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks.

For the sandwich:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice rolls in half. Place turkey slices and some of the marmalade on one half of each of the buns. Place bottom and top halves of buns on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, just until the buns are slightly browned.

Top the marmalade with bacon and slices of avocado. Spread mayonnaise on the other side of the buns. Close the sandwiches and serve.