Everyone knows the term "leftover" is not always synonymous with something good, but in the context of Thanksgiving it means a little more. After days of preparation the meal seems to pass so quickly I sometimes wonder why the effort was made. Nonetheless, in the days that follow and with each leftover bite, I somehow recreate in a small way what giving thanks is all about and what being with family really means to me.
My phrase “a recipe is worth a thousand words” says just that as I pull an old recipe from the shelf and dust it off. It looks like just another turkey casserole. Yet the memory of a day when things were bright and clear where grandma busily prepared a meal from leftover Thanksgiving turkey is front and center in my mind.
As I follow her recipe I think of her teasing the kids as she brought the ingredients together and while cleaning up I see the yellow stain of turmeric on my counter just as it was on hers.
There are many ways to recreate a meal from the most versatile Thanksgiving leftover. For me they always include the comfort of turkey casserole.
Grandma’s Turkey Casserole
2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
1 cup uncooked rice, cooked
2 cans (4 ounces each) mushrooms
½ cup margarine
½ cup flour
1 cup evaporated milk
¼ cup finely chopped onions
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Combine chicken, rice, mushrooms and onion in a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Melt margarine in a two-quart sauce pan. Blend in the salt, pepper and turmeric. Combine the juice from the mushrooms, evaporated milk and chicken broth to make three cups. Pour over margarine mixture and stir until thick. Pour sauce over chicken mixture and cut in with a knife. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Deborah Garrett is a writer, family historian, outdoor enthusiast and most of all “mom” from Utah.