Roast Thanksgiving Turkey Risotto

My favorite post-Thanksgiving dish: Roast Turkey Risotto

Okay, so we’ve covered how to reheat turkeys and hams, and some great recipes for finishing off leftover ham. Now, let’s talk turkey…specifically, let’s talk turkey leftovers.

There are tons of recipes online for leftover turkey so I’m not going to re-hash (ha!) them here. Instead, I’m going to share with ya’all my one go-to recipe that I always make in the days following a bird roastin’….Roast Turkey Risotto.

Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based; many kinds include Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risotto)

“How rice arrived in Italy is a controversial issue,” say Anna Maria Volpi, Culinary teacher and author of the FANTASTIC Italian food blog, Anna Maria’s Open Kitchen. “It is known that the Arabs brought rice to Sicily and Spain. They probably got it from India and extended its use through the territory under their control.

Rice was brought into the Po Valley in the fourteenth century—probably from Spain—and found the perfect environment and climate: flat lands, abundance of water, and humidity. Rice cultivation became intensive in the area for the centuries that followed, so much so that rice became a staple in that part of Italy.”

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Now, despite my own Italian heritage, risotto wasn’t a dish that was prepared out own house, and this recipe was one that was passed along to me by Nona on her death-bed. I created this off-the-cuff recipe one day several years ago, the day after Thanksgiving in fact, when I was trying to come up with a dish worthy of the pan full of golden delicious turkey broth I was staring at.

It turned out to be a hit.

As my fellow foodie Chef Chris Renner would say, “I’d rather be lucky than good!”

Just a note – many folks think that risotto is a hoity-toity dish, reserved for fancy restaurants and accomplished chefs. Nothing could be further from the truth! Risotto is a very simple dish who’s most important ingredient is patience…patience and a big spoon. You’re going to to stirring constantly, so make sure that everything else is prepared for the meal in advance.

Roast Thanksgiving Turkey RisottoRoast Turkey Risotto

5 Cups Turkey broth* (& pan scrapin’s)
1 cup dry white wine
2 Cups cubed turkey
2 Cups Arborio rice
1 leek, sliced thin
1 Cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbs fresh garlic, diced
3/4 Cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
2 Tbs butter, divided
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
Salt & pepper to taste

*If you didn’t save your turkey broth, you can swap this out with 8 teaspoons of Better Than Bullion chicken base, mixed with 5 cups of boiling water.

Heat separated broth and wine to a low simmer, keep hot.

Sautee onion and leeks in 1 Tbs each oil and butter, five minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook five more minutes until mushrooms have just begun to soften.

In a large separate pan, heat the remaining oil and butter, over medium heat and add dry rice. Stir constantly until rice just starts to brown and give off a nutty aroma.

Add sautéed veggies and stir.

Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until mostly absorbed. Maintain a constant heat that causes the dish to steam, but not quite simmer (no bubbles.) Repeat until rice becomes creamy and takes on a pearly sheen. Remove from heat and stir in turkey and 1/2 cup cheese. If you run out of broth/wine mixture, continue adding hot water until finished.

Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and serve immediately.

Side Dish Recommendation: Steamed asparagus or broccoli goes nicely.

Wine Recommendation: The mushrooms and Parmesan in this dish will go beautifully with a light red Burgundy.

NOTE: I’m not a fan of smoked bird, myself (I’ll take brisket, thanks!) but I’ve been told that this recipe works pretty darn good with leftover smoked turkey, as well.


Chef Perry