Cindy Hutson Knows What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

The thought of food might not sound as appetizing as it did yesterday while you gobbled down turkey, gravy, potatoes, and one too many servings of Grandma's homemade pie. But for the sake of survival, you'll have to eat something today. Chef Cindy Hutson has a suggestion.

"There's always leftover potatoes and turkey," says Hutson, executive chef of Ortanique on the MiIe. "But I got tired of turkey soup and turkey potpie. I love them, but it gets kind of tiresome. That's why I experimented with a shepherd’s pie instead."

Hutson's recipe is easy to follow, even if you didn't make yesterday's Thanksgiving feast yourself. "If you follow the recipe, it's really simple to make," she says. "You can mix and match your own vegetables, but otherwise you're good to go."

Her "Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie" recipe, from her new cookbook, From the Tip of My Tongue, incorporates nearly everything from the previous day's festivities, including turkey, vegetables, and potatoes. She recommends cutting the leftover turkey into large chunks to avoid "stringy" pieces in the pie.

"You definitely don't want to stir the turkey down to a sauce, because then it becomes stringy," she says. "It's cooked already, so there's no need to cook it more."

Hutson created the recipe after last year's holiday. She cooked multiple Thanksgiving turkeys for her staff in her Cayman Islands restaurant and says she had a great deal of leftovers, mostly turkey and potatoes. 

"All I did was reincorporate it," she says. "I added some fresh vegetables to it, and then it was done. Very easy."

She recommends pairing the shepherd's pie with a crisp green salad and a dry rosé wine. 

"You know, I'm an American, and I think Thanksgiving is probably my favorite celebration meal," she says. "It brings in winter for me. And I really like leftovers because, the next day, what do you do? You cook. For me, the second day is almost as traditional as the first."

Chef Cindy Hutson's Leftover Turkey Shepherd's Pie 


  •  4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds leftover turkey meat, diced
  • ½ cup diced turnips, boiled in salted water for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender
  • ¾ cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • ½ cup shaved Brussels sprouts, blanched in salted water for 2 minutes and plunged into ice bath to retain color, then strained
  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes, pureed with extra butter
  • 1 cup grated Old Quebec vintage cheddar


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  • Sauté onions and carrots until tender.
  • Add flour and mix into a roux.
  • Add tomato paste and stir. Add wine, stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer while whisking out the lumps. It should simmer until thickened. Mix in turkey, turnips, peas, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Stir until well mixed; taste for seasoning.
  • Fill a four- or six-ounce ramekin with turkey mixture, leaving a half-inch of room from the top. Fill remaining space with puréed potatoes, and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Repeat with remaining ramekins.
  • Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown.

Follow Clarissa Buch on Twitter.

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