Transforming Thanksgiving Leftovers: Asian Pulled Turkey

The time honored tradition of eating Thanksgiving leftovers for days and days [and DAYS] continued in full force at my house this year.  I had a bit of roast turkey, a serving of mashed potatoes, a few spoonfuls of stuffing and a smattering of roasted vegetables for more meals than I care to admit to [mashed potatoes and gravy for breakfast? Yep!]. Though it was tasty few days, by Thanksgiving meal #7, things lost their excitement.  Once we [FINALLY]  made our way through all the sides, all that was left was the big ol' turkey. What to do?!  I had an idea...

I became a bit sick of traditional 'American' flavors after days of engorging on it, so I pulled out some of my more Asian ingredients from the pantry and got to work. With careful, deft fingers, my mom skillfully removed the rest of the meat from the turkey, pulling it apart and handing it over to me to transform. I played around with ingredients a bit, but quickly the slightly boring turkey from last week evolved into a tasty, almost barbecue-like dish. Here's the recipe using exactly what I did. I'm sure I'll perfect this recipe with future turkeys [it's genuinely making me want to roast a turkey more than just once a year], but it's pretty fantastic already!

Asian Pulled Turkey

  • 1 lb of leftover turkey, pulled from the bone [can use white and dark meat]
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 TBsp olive oil [for a more nutty, asian flavor go with sesame oil]
  • pinch of red pepper flakes [add more for turkey with a kick!]
  • 3/4-1 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine [you can find it cheaply at any international grocery, but if you don't have one convenient to you, here's some you can pick up on Amazon]
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce [I use Soy Vay- can be found at Target and most groceries]
  • 2 TBsp rice vinegar [I buy mine from an international grocery, but you can find it here too]
  • 1-2 TBsp soy sauce [I use Kikkoman]
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach

Heat oil on medium in a pan [one with a lid], add shallot and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes, being sure not to burn the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes and turkey and raise heat to medium-high and cook 2-3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of rice wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid has reduced a bit, add the teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar and soy [stick to 1TB and add the other TB later if you need more salt later on]. Pile the spinach on top, cover the pan, and lower the heat. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Stir everything together, season as necessary and serve immediately on a bed of rice [I always cook brown, but any will do!]. This dish would also work well served old school barbecue style on white bread or a bun. 

This recipe only gets better the longer it sits and is such a transformation from traditional Thanksgiving leftovers! Don't have any turkey left? Pick up a roast chicken from the grocery, and pull apart your leftovers and give this a try, trust me!