Raise your hand if you make certain dishes for Thanksgiving just so you’ll have them for leftovers. Yes, buying a huge turkey to feed six counts. Guilty as charged.
But even if you live for leftover turkey sandwiches and carrot pudding, you’ve probably faced that Thanksgiving fatigue that hits a few days in, where you just reach your limit ‚Äî even for Mom’s stuffing. But here at The Culinary Institute of America, we hate thinking about good food going to waste, so hang on to the rest of that turkey, and let’s talk.
One of the primary reasons we get sick of those leftovers is because no matter how you shape it, you’re still just eating turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. On a sandwich, in a bowl, stacked on a fork straight from the fridge—it’s all the same. The key to enjoying that Thanksgiving bounty for days (or weeks!) is to make each dish fresh. (After you eat one good sandwich, of course).
Don’t just make turkey soup with leftover turkey bones. Make turkey tortilla soup, loaded with tomatoes, cilantro, and creamy queso fresco. And sure, roasted vegetables are a great leftover side dish, but chop them up with some leftover giblets (you did save the giblets, right!?) and a runny egg for a new take on brunch hash.
Even stuffing can take on a new life. Form it into a patty and griddle it, then—you guessed it—put an egg on it! And your mashed potatoes, veggies, and gravy come together with some ground lamb for a 10-minute shepherd’s pie. But what about the turkey?
This recipe for Cajun-Style Stew with Andouille and Turkey is the perfect way to bring some fresh life into that poultry, especially if it’s beginning to get dry. The dish will remind you of jambalaya, but we’ve taken out the rice so you can serve it however you like. Do you have leftover cornbread, mashed potatoes, or polenta? Any of these will sop up the slightly spicy, flavourful sauce for a welcome break from sage and nutmeg.
Unlike some Cajun and Creole recipes you’ve seen, this recipe is quick and easy. There’s no roux to keep an eye on, and after just a bit of chopping, it comes together in about half an hour. It’s the perfect weeknight meal for post-Thanksgiving, not-quite-December holiday mania.
We use a combination of spices to make a homemade Cajun seasoning mix, like dried thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper. But you can pick up a store-bought Cajun seasoning blend to simplify. Start with a teaspoon, then season to taste from there. Every blend is a bit different, so use your gut.
To accompany the turkey, we’ve added tasso ham and andouille sausage, both of which are classic Cajun and Creole ingredients. Tasso ham is uniquely seasoned, but it can also be tough to find, so feel free to replace it with your favourite garden-variety smoked ham. A lot of familiar sausage brands carry an andouille variety, but you can use whatever spicy or mild sausage you like best.
And don’t worry. If you get hooked on this recipe, you can make it any time of the year. Since most people don’t generally have leftover turkey in the fridge year-round, use shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breast, or even shrimp. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about how to use leftovers from this tasty stew, since there will be none!
CAJUN-STYLE STEW WITH ANDOUILLE AND TURKEY
Start to finish: 45 minutes (Active time: 25 minutes)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces tasso ham or other smoked ham, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 green bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the bias
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups amber beer
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon dry thyme
3/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups roughly shredded turkey meat
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, for serving
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the ham and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper, onion, and celery and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the meat and vegetables. Cook until the paste deepens to a rust colour, about 4 minutes. Add the beer and broth, and stir to combine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the thyme, oregano, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and turkey meat, and stir to combine.
Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the flavours have blended and the sauce is flavourful, about 20 minutes. Serve over cooked rice, garnished with parsley.