Island Cooking: It’s time to talk turkey

It’s countdown time – there are only two more weeks until Thanksgiving and it’s all about the food with me. I love turkey and I love stuffing; those two things I could eat all of the time. That gave me concern the other day when I realized that I haven’t roasted a turkey in awhile. I usually make them at least three or four times a year, and now I can’t even remember the last time I cooked one. So for the first time in a long time I’m really excited to get a turkey and stuff it and hopefully have lots of leftovers for turkey sandwiches, turkey tetrazzini and turkey-and-stuffing casserole.

I honestly can say that I have very little imagination when it comes time to use the turkey leftovers. The dishes I listed already are my go-to uses for leftovers, so this year I really started searching around for a few new things to add to the lineup after Thanksgiving. To be honest, I started craving turkey so badly that I couldn’t wait, especially as I was gazing wistfully at the turkeys in the store the other day. So after leaving the store and not buying one I hate to admit this but I couldn’t get the turkey off of my mind and with the weekend coming up and I really should be cleaning up around the house but of course instead of cleaning I broke down and got a turkey. I know I’ll have to get another one for Thanksgiving but I convinced myself that this was all in the spirit of trying out a few new recipes. Because what happens if I don’t like these recipes? Then I would have ruined our perfectly good turkey on Thanksgiving by experimenting and now at least I already know I can still have my turkey sandwiches, tetrazzini and turkey-and-stuffing casserole because I tried some new recipes already and I have actually convinced myself that this is quite a normal everyday occurrence in everyone’s life, not just mine.

So this is a win-win situation!

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy a great cocktail and try out a few new recipes for your leftovers this Thanksgiving.

A Tasty Thanksgiving Cocktail



2 oz. good vodka

1/2 oz. maple syrup

1 1/2 oz. non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider

Combine equal parts cinnamon and sugar on a plate and coat the rim of your cocktail glass. In a shaker will with ice, add vodka and maple syrup. Stir and strain into prepared cocktail glass and top off with sparkling cider and enjoy!

Chutney Turkey Salad

3 cups leftover turkey, cubed

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes

3 Tbsp. green onions, chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup mango chutney

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Pepper to taste

Lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, combine turkey, celery, cranberries, cheese and onions. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, chutney, ginger and pepper until blended. Pour over the turkey and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour serve on lettuce leaves.

Of course, I always have to have at least some pasta in a dish!

Spicy Turkey Mexican Stew

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 yellow onions, cubed

2 fresh poblano chili peppers, seeded and cut into half-inch strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts turkey broth (you can use chicken if you don’t have turkey)

4 cups leftover turkey, cubed

1 4-oz. can chopped green chili peppers

2 15-oz. cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

2 15-oz. cans hominy, drained

1 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. cumin

2 Tbsp. dried oregano

Water if needed

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions and poblano chilies until soft. Stir in garlic and cook a couple of minutes. Season with chili powder, cumin and oregano.

Stir in the turkey broth, cooked turkey, green chilies peppers, cannelloni beans and hominy. Stir in more water if needed, to just cover everything in the pot, season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about an hour.

Send me all your holiday recipes to [email protected]

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Holly Simason

Columnist at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander cooking columnist Holly Simason is co-author of the mystery series “Death of a Kitchen Diva." Simason has collaborated with her screenwriter brother Rick Copp for the Bar Harbor-based series. The books are written under the pen name Lee Hollis.