Looking for leftover turkey recipes to use up the turkey leftover from the holidays? My Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole is a delicious alternative to a turkey sandwich!
You probably thought I was done with turkey leftovers, didn’t you? After all, it’s the end of January! But, nope; still have turkey leftovers in the freezer. I’ll probably make leftover turkey recipes for awhile because I made 3 turkeys over the holiday season!
You probably missed those posts, didn’t you? Well, here are links for your reading pleasure: Twice Baked Turkey and Butter Basted Roasted Turkey. And, if those two aren’t enough turkey recipes for you, I have two more: Foil-wrapped Roasted Turkey and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Turkey.
As hard as it is to believe, we’ve reached our tolerance limit for turkey soup and turkey sandwiches! So, coming up with creative ways to use the remaining leftover turkey has become a mission of mine.
I think my Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole looks pretty good, don’t you? But, guess what? It has a surprise ingredient – turkey skin! That’s right, I took the leftover skin and made it into little bits to sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Not unlike bacon bits. Well, sort of. I mean, it is a little weird, I know.
What got me thinking about this is my mother. She loves roasted, crispy turkey skin. When the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven, she makes a beeline for the carving station (the end of my counter), sits on a barstool and pecks away at it while carving is underway. The “carver” varies every year; not one specific person in my family carves the turkey! And, they have to watch out for her tiny, spindly fingers!
And, another thing: I live in Southern California where Mexican food is available on almost every street corner! So, I thought about pork rinds, a popular snack, known as chicharron in Spanish. The South has “cracklings” AKA pork rinds and in the UK, they are known as either “pork scratchings” or “pork cracklings”.
In Spanish, “turkey” is “pavo” and turkey meat is “carne de pavo”. So, I’ve named my turkey cracklings “chicharron de pavo”. And, guess what? They’re pretty good!
Here’s a picture of turkey skin pulled off leftover turkey pieces. As I was deboning leftover turkey, if it had skin on it, instead of throwing it away, I put it back in with the leftovers. At the time I didn’t know if I would use it; I just didn’t throw it out.
There’s this “movement” happening now, called “nose-to-tail”, about using all parts of the animal rather than throwing bits and pieces away. You know, a “green” thing.
As a Baby Boomer and a child of the ’70’s (when I was in high school), we were all about Earth Day and green living, etc. The Big Yellow Taxi hit song of the era by Joni Mitchell runs through my mind: “don’t it always seems to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”
So I’ve always tried to do my part and not waste. I’m not always successful, but I do try.
Here’s my confession for the day: until now, I threw away my turkey skin!
Here they are, chicharron de pavo fresh from the oven – roasted and salted.
And here they are all chopped up! They kinda look like bacon bits, don’t they?
While my Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole was baking in the oven, I set the table for the photo shoot and took this “test” shot. This is in day time, natural window daylight. It was a cloudy day so it made a gray cast. But, even though these photos aren’t filled with light, I like them anyway. I like the moodiness they evoke.
Served up and ready to eat! Charlie was nearby, patiently waiting for me to finish my food photography for this post!
A close-up of my Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole – it’s (obviously) cheesy, which leads to its overall appeal.
It’s surprisingly delicious as far as leftover turkey recipes are concerned – chicharron de pavo and all!
I wanted you to see my cute bird kitchen towels, so I added this photo to the round-up! I have a small collection of kitchen towels that I’ve bought over the years from World Market. They are whimsical and cute. One of these days I’ll do a post just on kitchen towels!
I used a special rice blend for my Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole. It’s called Grain & Pasta Medley and is available at World Market under their brand name. It has long grain and wild rice, split peas, orzo, couscous and quinoa. It adds to the overall flavor instead of just using white rice or brown rice.
Also, at this point in my quest to use my leftover turkey, the turkey pieces were mostly shredded. I bet my Leftover Turkey and Rice Casserole is even better with chopped, cubed turkey meat.
Anyway, this is a tasty way to use up leftover turkey. I’m sure it’s good with chicken, too! And, if you aren’t inclined to use crispy turkey skin to top your casserole, use bacon. I’m sure it’s even better – after all, everything’s better with bacon, right?
Here’s the recipe:
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 16 ounce package of favorite rice blend (I used Grain and Pasta Medley from World Market with long grain and wild rice, split peas, orzo, couscous and quinoa)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cups leftover shredded or chopped turkey (about a ½-inch dice)
- 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetable (corn, peas, carrots, green beans)
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crispy turkey skin, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place leftover pieces of turkey skin on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until crispy (about 10 minutes).
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
- Transfer from baking sheet to chopping board and chop into small pieces; set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 9" by 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Add butter to a non-stick skillet and turn stovetop to medium heat.
- Next, add onions and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Then, add rice mixture, salt and pepper and saute about 5 minutes more.
- Pour into 9" x 13" baking pan and spread around.
- Add turkey meat, distributing evenly around baking pan.
- Sprinkle with frozen vegetables, distributing evenly.
- Pour milk and water over all.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven.
- Bake 45 minutes; remove from oven and carefully remove foil.
- Sprinkle with cheese, then sprinkle with crispy turkey skin.
- Return to oven and bake, uncovered, approximately 10 to 15 minutes more until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.
Oh, one more thing: I have a friend whose a vegetarian EXCEPT she eats bacon. She calls herself a bacon-tarian.
(other turkey leftover recipes)