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Turkey and Bacon Panini

Marion’s Thanksgiving Leftovers – An Encore Presentation

Invite friends over for a casual Friday night after Thanksgiving supper. Great wine, a warm fire and leftover turkey dishes, such as panini and stuffing bites with cranberry pesto make for a delightful casual dinner. You can also use leftover olives, prosciutto, salami, cheeses, ricotta with a drizzle of honey and crusty bread from yesterday’s antipasti to create a delicious appetizer.

There are many creative dishes that can be fashioned from the Thanksgiving feast leftovers. A great idea for leftover mashed potatoes is Torta di Pastori – it is similar in concept to Shepard’s Pie, but it uses Italian ingredients. Originally from Abruzzo, where it contains lamb, in southern Le Marche they use turkey as the meat. I add Worcestershire sauce, which I think adds additional character to the dish. Impromptu nights like this can be so much fun with friends or even if it is just the two of you, light some candles and make it romantic. Enjoy!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup


  • 2 lb leftover sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 12 oz heavy cream


Begin by mashing the sweet potatoes. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a medium flame. Add onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Grate the garlic cloves directly into the pan. Sprinkle in the oregano, ground ginger, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two.

Stir in the stock and cream, then whisk in the finely mashed sweet potatoes until everything is well-combined. Bring the soup to a low simmer. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 30-35 minutes. For a smoother consistency, I use a food processor to blend the ingredients. Although you can do this with the stock, cream and potatoes, I prefer the consistency obtained by cooking the soup in the saucepan for about 20 minutes, placing the soup into the food processor and then returning it to the saucepan for another 15 minutes at a low simmer. Garnish with scallions, chopped chives or even a light swirl of mascarpone for a touch of elegance in this tasty and easy to prepare soup.

Torta di Pastori

  • 1-1/2 lb turkey
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup leftover peas
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 cup leftover carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz butter
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive
  • 2 lb leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated


Prepare your favorite pie crust (or one purchased if you are tired after the Thanksgiving feast). Dice the turkey. Chop the onion and celery into small cubes. Melt the butter and oil in a medium sauce pan and cook the onion and celery until softened and slightly brown.

Add the thyme, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and stir in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over a medium-low flame, then simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the turkey, carrots and peas and cook for another 15 minutes until you have a thick consistency.

Preheat the oven at 350°F. Add to the mixture to a large oven-safe casserole dish. Reheat the mashed potatoes in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of light cream and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano. Heat until smooth. Add the potatoes to the top of the pie, sprinkling the remainder of the Parmigiano cheese on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Turkey and Bacon Panini


  • 2 slices of your favorite bread, 1/2” thick
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 2 slices Fontina cheese
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 or 3 slices leftover turkey breast
  • 1 tbsp Aioli
  • arugula


Preheat an electric Panini maker to 400°F. Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Lay the bread, with the oil side down, on a clean work board. Spread the top of one slice of bread with the arugula and Aioli. On the other slice, place Fontina cheese followed by the bacon and turkey slices. Top with the other bread slice, oiled side up.

Place the sandwich on the preheated Panini maker and press until the bread is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately. This recipe is for one sandwich.

Turkey Milanese


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • leftover turkey gravy (I would doctor this up a bit)
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped fresh thyme
  • dry white wine
  • leftover turkey breast, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1-1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown and the liquid has evaporated. Add 1 cup of turkey gravy, thyme and wine – just to dilute slightly. Cook until heated through. Keep warm over a low flame.

Place the flour in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water and season with salt and pepper. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a medium high-sided sauté pan until it just begins to shimmer. Dredge the sliced breast in the flour, tap off excess then dip in the egg wash letting any excess drip off and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Place in the oil and cook until just golden brown on both sides. Spoon some of the mushroom gravy on a serving plate, then arrange the turkey cutlets. Serve with a fresh arugula salad.

Stuffing Bites with Cranberry Sauce Pesto


  • leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 cup left over cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • oil for frying


Preheat oil to 350°F. Roll left over stuffing into small bite-sized balls and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Coat each stuffing bite with this egg wash, then dredge in the bread crumbs until fully coated and set aside. In a food processor, blend cranberry sauce, basil, pepper and walnuts and set aside. Once oil is at temperature fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and serve with cranberry pesto.

Chocolate Chestnut Pudding


  • 8 oz leftover chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1⁄4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 large egg, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


In a blender, puree the chestnuts with the milk until very smooth, at least 2 minutes. In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt, then whisk in the egg and yolks. Stir in the chestnut/milk and bring to a simmer over a medium flame, stirring constantly, until bubbles break the surface of the pudding and it thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter cubes and the vanilla extract. Pour the pudding through a fine sieve into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding. Let the pudding cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled. Rather than topping the pudding with whipped cream, I prefer to add a few pistachio nuts on top. This is simple to make and very good for a light supper dessert.