Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers into Turkey Tetrazzini— Down-Home Comfort

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Virginia Willis' Turkey Tetrazzini for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis' Turkey Tetrazzini for FoodNetwork.com

Comforting, bubbling casseroles such as this down-home comfort Turkey Tetrazzini have long been prepared by the ladies of the Methodist church in the south Georgia town where I grew up. They were taken to the families in celebration.

As different as most faiths seem to be, they all share some sort of ceremony at key moments in human life: the union of two people, the birth of a child, the celebration of adulthood — whether that be a bat mitzvah, a confirmation or a hunter killing his first antelope — and the celebration of death. Food is more than keeping the family fed. Food is the adhesive that binds the community. This sentiment is especially clear at Thanksgiving as friends and family gather together in gratitude.

Then, the day after all that loving gratefulness, you’re up to your eyeballs in leftovers and your refrigerator is filled to the max. Inevitably, someone doesn’t seal the cranberry sauce and it dribbles down the door, or someone doesn’t close the bag of dressing and crumbs of cornbread multiply and populate the produce bin.

I find that after a sandwich or two, the family is tired of turkey. I prefer to reshape and repurpose leftovers instead of trotting out the same old thing for a couple of days. Give your turkey a makeover with turkey Tetrazzini.

Get the Recipe: Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Virginia Willis' Turkey Tetrazzini for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis' Turkey Tetrazzini for FoodNetwork.com

Turkey Tetrazzini is a baked pasta dish made with chopped turkey, vegetables and pasta bound together in gravy. It’s a comfort-food trifecta: pasta, poultry and gravy. This dish may sound Italian, but it’s an all-American classic.

The ultra-rich traditional church lady version contained copious amounts of heavy cream. Then, in the casserole days of the ’70s, cream cheese was added and a white sauce was replaced with the familiar red-and-white can of cream of mushroom soup. I’ve taken a good deal of the fat out of this classic church casserole, but I promise you won’t miss the flavor.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

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Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

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