Turkey Talk With Alex Guarnaschelli

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Alex Guarnaschelli
Alex Guarnaschelli

When it comes to the holidays, food is the one unifier that all faiths can relate to. With the Thanksgiving turkey patiently waiting in your refrigerator for the big feast this weekend, perhaps it’s time to consider part two of the holiday: the leftovers. (She also has a mean recipe for Mashed and Oven-dried Sweet Potatoes.)

Executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurant, cookbook author and Food Network judge, Alex Guarnaschelli has rounded up her favorite Thanksgiving dishes to turn into even better leftovers. And you better be prepared to share.

“My favorite part is cooking all the food and getting it ready,” said Guarnaschelli. “I pulled an all-nighter last year cooking away and almost fell asleep at the dinner table. But when the cranberry sauce has cooled and the stuffing is coming out of the turkey, I just get super excited.”

While everyone, including Guarnaschelli, loves the staple leftover turkey sandwich, the chef prefers to make hers into a work of art.

“A classic turkey sandwich for me is turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce with a splash of vinegar on the meat. I lather this on buttered rye toast with mayonnaise, and might put a few slices of fresh jalapeño in there too,” she said of one option. “I also love a turkey salad with hearty greens like kale or escarole this time of year. Sandwiches never get old to me. I love a wrap with all of the leftover vegetable side dishes, chopped and lightly mixed with turkey. I also make a cranberry vinaigrette by whisking some vinegar and a little olive oil into the cranberry sauce and putting that on the sandwich for brightness.”

But stepping out of the box and creating an entirely new meal from the throes of turkey day doesn’t have to be a difficult task. On the contrary, it is the perfect time to get creative and try something new. Always happy to talk turkey, Guarnaschelli is all about the holiday menu and it’s leftover counterparts, like her turkey wing recipe with honey and garlic.

“The key to good leftovers is making one fresh component so it seems like a brand new meal,” said Guarnaschelli. “I love a turkey Shepherd’s pie with the bits of dark and white meat that are leftover, cooked with the gravy and chopped up leftover vegetables. I sometimes make a fresh batch of mashed potatoes to spread over the top.”

Roasted Turkey Wings with Honey & Garlic
By Alex Guarnaschelli

6 turkey wings, ranging anywhere from 8 to 12 oz each
½ cup canola oil
Kosher salt and white pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mild curry powder, lightly toasted
Red wine vinegar (for sprinkling)

Roasted turkey wings with honey and garlic
Roasted turkey wings with honey and garlic

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cook the wings. Toss the turkey wings in a bowl with the canola oil and season all over with salt and pepper. Arrange them in a single layer on 2 racks, each set over a baking sheet. Roast until they are golden brown with crispy edges, 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes.

3. Make the seasoning paste: In a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely chopped. Add honey, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and curry powder. Blend until smooth. A few minutes before the wings are finished, spoon or brush wings with garlic paste and then finish cooking them. Sprinkle with some additional salt and a little red wine vinegar before serving.

Alex Guarnaschelli _CookbookAlready making people happy with her delicious food (her cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook, is available at Barnes & Noble and online at Amazon.com), Guarnaschelli will soon be entering into the world of standup comedy. She is sure to make another name for herself on the comedy stage, so stay tuned. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your leftovers.

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