Mr. Table thinks he invented the Thanksgiving Leftover Bite. He did not. I don’t know where he saw the idea, but last year our house was filled with wonton-wrapper-encased leftovers. There were a staggering amount of combinations, people; the man isn’t normally creative with food, but within the safety net of familiar food favorites, he went wild. It was like watching Jackson Pollack paint. In fact, my kitchen resembled one of his paintings. An egg roll fever carried him to a place where anything was possible, and every exciting combination could be dipped in leftover gravy. I’ll admit it was a wee bit inspired to bake turkey leftovers into egg rolls. It was fun. It was amusing. But I need an alternative that isn’t so “I just made Thanksgiving into smaller portions and stuffed them into a thin dough pocket.”
Natural next thought; quesadillas. Mexican cuisine’s answer to the egg roll. Cut into fourths, these quesadillas make a marvelous snack or light lunch, and they happen to be a perfect vehicle for your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. There’s only a few things in them, so not much extra to buy at the store (because don’t we all spend a small fortune on Thanksgiving), and they manage to take your turkey and transform it to a still-comforting yet not-so-holiday-tasting treat.
I don’t believe in big-production post-holiday meals. Too many of us are either hustle and bustling our way through retail stores, or in a prolonged food coma, or in the midst of a to-the-death wrestling match with our artificial Christmas trees to bother with actually making a big scene with our leftovers. We just spend 3 days straight in the kitchen making everything for the Big Feast anyway; why not take a break?
This dish, like the Chinatown Turkey Salad, allows you to do just that; there’s nothing to it, and you can easily make the bacon ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you’re craving something warm and quick which perhaps doesn’t include tons of mashed potatoes, simple assemble a few ingredients in a skillet and poof: dinner is served. If you want to get fancy about it, just toss up a green salad alongside; surely you’ll have some leftover raw veggies from the veggie tray to throw on top.
I know it’s crunch time now, so I’ll do my part and keep this short. I made a little chipotle sour cream to dip this in, and I loved it, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can use regular sour cream, or salsa, or whatever you have on hand. Truly, these don’t even need a dip, so you decide how much of an effort you feel like putting forth.
Turkey, Bacon + Avocado Quesadillas with Chipotle Sour Cream
- 3 cups cooked turkey*, shredded or rough chopped)
- 2 avocados, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 8 strips bacon, cooked to just crisp
- 2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded (freshly shredded or pre-shredded makes no difference here)
- 8 large flour tortillas (10-inch size)
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup rough-chopped cilantro, for serving (optional)
- for the sauce:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
*you could easily substitute shredded white meat chicken for the turkey.
A note on portion size: This recipe makes 4 large quesadillas, cut into fourths. If you’re serving it alongside a hearty salad, or as part of an appetizer, maybe a serving size is two of those pieces, which means this recipe would make 8 “half” servings. I’m sure I didn’t need to go into detail there, but i like a nice note, you know? You know.
Sauce time, if you’re doing that:
It’s nothing, really, whisk together your sour cream and chipotle sauce until everything is evenly distributed, and chill in the fridge until your quesadillas are plated.
Preheat your oven to 200˚F and throw a sheet pan in there. this should keep your finished quesadillas warm until you’re done cooking. If you’re only making one for yourself, skip this step.
Ready your ingredients. Your turkey should be in bite-size shreds or pieces, your avocado sliced and sprinkled with a little sea salt, your cheese shredded, your bacon crisped, and your tortillas out. Your cilantro should be chopped too, if you’re using it.
Assemble + cook:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, leaning towards medium high. When thoroughly warmed, add one of your tortillas. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese shreds over top, evenly, leaving maybe a 1/2 inch around the edge to allow for spread/melt. Next, add your turkey shreds, bacon, and avocado in a single layer (or close to that) and try to evenly disburse your ingredients. I like to rotate mine in a circle – turkey, bacon strip, avocado slice, repeat. Next, add another 1/4 cup of shredded cheese evenly over top. Top with another tortilla and lightly press down (that could be superstition) to get things to melt into each other. Do this occasionally, checking the underside for doneness.
Once you see a golden crisp to the bottom tortilla, use a large spatula and carefully, using your hand on top of the not-crisp tortilla as a guide, flip it over so the other side can heat up. Inevitably some of your insides may have scooted out; take your spatula and scoot them back in as tight as you can. Once the new underside is golden and crispy, You’re done. Or, if you’re me, you will have had time to examine and critique your first side, determine it’s not crisp enough; if this is the case, feel free to flip carefully for one more round until done.
Add to the baking sheet inside your warmed oven. Repeat as needed with remaining quesadillas. When you’re ready to serve them, remove the sheet pan with the quesadillas on them, and transfer them one by one to a cutting board. Using a big chef’s knife, cut them into fourths. Sprinkle them with a little of your chopped cilantro, and serve the chipotle sour cream alongside.
Yield: 4 quesadillas, so this should serve 4 as a hearty meal or up to 8 as a light lunch or dinner alongside a simple salad.