One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is all the amazing meals you can make with turkey leftovers. But without a doubt my absolute, all-time favorite post-Thanksgiving recipe is Turkey a la King. In fact I think it’s so popular in our family that everyone looks forward to it as much if not more than the actual Thanksgiving meal!
However, like a lot of our holiday traditions, the original Turkey a la King recipe has undergone several revisions over the past five years as our food values have evolved. Here are just a few of the updates we’ve made:
- More veggies since that’s our top goal!
- White, all-purpose flour has been eliminated and replaced it with whole wheat pastry flour.
- Organic and pastured dairy products are now our preference since most of the regular butter and milk in grocery stores comes from cows raised on GMO feed, pumped up with growth hormones, and oftentimes raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
- We now use organic, whole wheat toast cups or other whole wheat bread options to serve the Turkey a la King on. We’ve replaced those Pepperidge Farm pastry shells that contain white flour, hydrogenated oils, and other highly processed ingredients.
Despite all these changes our Turkey a la King is still a family favorite, and we feel much better about serving it on our table! So get out your pans and try this great, post-Thanksgiving meal made with your turkey leftovers. And if the recipe sounds delicious but you’re all out of turkey, chicken works just as well. It truly is a delicious dinner for any time of year!
- 8 tablespoons butter (we recommend pastured, grass-fed butter)
- 13 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
- 2½ cups milk (we recommend pastured, grass-fed)
- 1½ cups stock (chicken, turkey, or vegetable)
- 4 cups turkey, cubed
- ½ thyme, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon marjoram, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon rosemary, finely minced
- 1+ cup chopped carrots
- 1+ cup peas
- 1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 12 whole wheat toast cups (see below), toast points, biscuits, yeast rolls, or puff pastry shells
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 1⅔ cups)
- ¾ cup onion, diced finely
- Melt butter in 6-quart pan over medium low heat.
- To form the roux stir in flour until it forms a paste. Keep cooking the flour/butter combination until it turns a bit golden (about 3-5 minutes). Basically you’re cooking the flour slightly.
- Gradually add in the milk whisking it in about ½ cup at a time. Once each addition of milk is incorporated thoroughly and not lumpy, it’s time to add the next. This series of additions will gradually turn the flour / butter paste into a creamy sauce.
- Add the stock ½ cup at a time to the cream sauce letting the sauce thicken between additions.
- Once all the stock has been added, add the herbs and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cubed turkey, carrots, and peas.
- Season with sherry (optional), salt, and pepper.
- Cook until the Turkey a la King is warmed throughout and the vegetables are lightly cooked.
- Serve the Turkey a la King over toast cups or one of the other bread choices.
If you’re going for super quick preparation buy a bag of frozen peas and carrots.
To achieve my goal of more than 50% veggies in any given meal I like to add onions and mushrooms to our Turkey a la King. The bonus is these also add more flavor! However, since it does requires an extra pan and a little more chopping, I’m listing it as optional in this recipe. If you choose to include them, sauté the onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat and cover. In 10 minutes add the onions and sauté for another 5 minutes or until translucent. Set aside and add into the Turkey a la King with the other vegetables.
- 12 slices of whole wheat bread
- 3 tablespoons butter (we recommend pastured, grass-fed butter)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Use at least a 4-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds from bread
- If you want you can flatten each bread round with a rolling pin
- Press bread rounds into muffin pan
- Brush each bread round with melted butter
- Bake toast cups in 400F oven for about 7 minutes. When toast cups start to turn golden brown they are ready.
- Set aside for use in your recipe.
I also cut out some smaller pieces of bread and toast them to add to the top of the finished dish. It's super easy and adds a nice touch.
Kitchen resources and tips:
- A whisk that’s built for sauces is a big help when you want to get the roux (butter / flour) mixture blended into the milk just right!
- A great, non-slip cutting board is an invaluable kitchen asset when cutting up the vegetables for your stuffing and cubing the bread. I upgraded to these Epicurean non-slip boards this summer, and I’ve been really pleased with them.
- A high quality set of cutting knives can make a huge difference, especially when you’re cooking REAL food. My local knife shop advised me to invest in the higher quality Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature brand (much higher quality than the J.A. Henckels International brand) and time has proven them right. (To make sure you know which Henckels knives are better, here’s a tip — look for the “twins” on the knives vs. the single guy sporting the trident.)
- A great muffin pan is a necessity for any kitchen. I prefer uncoated/untreated bakeware when possible so I like this 12-cup muffin pan.