After we became empty nesters, a problem we never had when the kids were living at home rose to prominence. Even two people with excellent appetites and reasonably good memories can forget how many packages of leftover turkey they tucked in the back corners of the freezer.
Discovering a package of roast turkey sliced from the bird a year or two after a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is an unpleasant experience. Sometimes it even leads to conflict:
“How did this package of turkey get behind the vegetables?” I ask.
“You probably moved it. Use your eyes once in a while!”
“We can take it to the cabin and feed it to the fox,” I say, which defuses most of these confrontations.
However, it really is better to use that meat to make enchiladas, tetrazzini, soup or turkey a la king rather than fatten up the animals who should be getting their own turkeys. There are lots of them running around Wisconsin today.
Jerri is a genius when it comes to using up leftovers, and she has done her best to teach me how to “make do” as well. Most of the time, those “found foods” turn into delicious meals. Here is how we make leftover turkey a la king. Served over mashed potatoes, it is truly a dish made for royalty.
5 T butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups diced turkey
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped pimiento
Dice the turkey meat (a mixture of white and dark is best) and set it aside. Open and drain a can of mushrooms or clean, slice and sauté some fresh mushrooms. Open a small jar of pimientos and chop them if necessary.
In a two quart saucepan or skillet, melt the butter and blend in the flour. salt and white pepper over low heat. You are making a roux. Cook the mixture for three or four minutes, but do not brown it.
Add the broth and milk, raise the heat to medium and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened and is bubbling.
Reduce the heat and stir in the turkey, mushrooms and pimientos. Continue stirring until everything is hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or toast. The recipe makes four generous servings.
NOTES: The original for this recipe is of course “Chicken a la King” which was probably invented in the late 19th century by William “Bill” King, a chef at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The recipe was first published in 1900.
You can substitute red or green bell pepper for the pimiento.