One of the true joys of having a Greenberg smoked turkey for the holidays has always been the Greenberg turkey leftovers. I've been enjoying Greenbergs for most of my life and have probably eaten hundreds of post-holiday smoked turkey sandwiches on wheat bread, with a swipe of mayo. Ah, the simple pleasures of life. . .
I've been lucky this year to have back-to-back turkeys. We ordered one for Thanksgiving and I picked up a second one on our recent tour of their plant in Tyler. Man can't live on sandwiches alone, so I started looking around for ideas of creative uses for our Greenberg turkey leftovers.
My daughter Ashley, who's a great cook, suggested baking a Greenberg smoked turkey pot pie. We made a couple the following weekend and they were off-the-charts good. Michele, my wife, and I have always liked turkey tetrazzini, so we decided to experiment with that. On our second try, we got really close to a memorable dish.
Of course you don't have to use Greenberg turkey leftovers, but we've been spoiled this holiday season. These recipes could apply to any turkey or chicken you have in the fridge, maybe even other meats. Experiment and enjoy!
Greenberg smoked turkey tetrazzini
1 - 8-ounce package of egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 - 6-ounce can sliced mushrooms (I substituted chopped celery)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 small pinch of minced garlic
2-3 cups chopped Greenberg smoked turkey
2 - 10.5-ounce cans of condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fried onions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt is optional. Add pasta and cook until al dente, then drain.
- Melt butter in a large skillet, saute onions for 5-6 minutes, then add mushrooms for 1 minute at end. Mix in a large bowl with salt and pepper, turkey, 2 cans of condensed soup and sour cream. When mixed well, add noodles and stir. NOTE: I'm not a mushroom fan, so I substituted chopped celery for that ingredient.
- Place mixture in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling.
- Spread fried onions on top and cook for 5 more minutes.
Greenberg smoked turkey pot pie
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced OR 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups milk
2-3 cups chopped Greenberg smoked turkey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 12-oz. bag of mixed vegetables
2 frozen pie shells
- Preheat the over to 400 F.
- Take the pie sheets out of the freezer, they will need 15-20 minutes to thaw.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and saute, continue cooking until caramelized.
- Stir in the flour, until it is absorbed by the fat and clinging to the vegetables.
- Gradually add the chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until the mixture boils for one minute.
- Stir in the turkey and mixed vegetables, salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon mixture into a pie shell, then flip the other pie shell and carefully place it on top of the pot pie. Cut an X into the top to allow venting.
- Cook for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.
- Tip: Use deep dish pie shells for a bigger pot pie.
The Posse's Guide to your first Greenberg Turkey
By Bruce Tomaso
There’s nothing like a Greenberg Smoked Turkey. Keep that in mind if you’re about to enjoy your first one.
Most folks are caught off guard by their first bite of a Greenberg turkey. That’s because most people think of “smoked turkey” as that beige, bland lunch meat sold at the supermarket deli counter.
Whatever that stuff is, it’s nothing like the hickory-smoked turkeys that the Greenberg family has been producing for more than 80 years in Tyler, Texas.
A Greenberg turkey has a rich, deep, complex flavor. It’s smoky and spicy, bold and peppery.
It’s delicious. But it’s different.
It’s not what most newcomers expect.
They shouldn’t worry if that first bite seems strange. By the second bite, most people find that they’re falling in love.
There’s a reason such a mystique has developed around this Texas culinary classic, the odd-looking, smoky-smelling bird in a box known as “The Holiday Aristocrat.”
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, if you’re thinking about ordering one, or if you got one as a holiday gift and aren’t quite sure what to make of it, this is for you: The Texas BBQ Posse’s Guide to Your First Greenberg Turkey.
1. It’s supposed to look like that.
When you unpack a Greenberg turkey, the first thing you’ll notice (after the smell of wood smoke) is its strange color. The company calls it “mahogany,” a much better marketing term than “dark brown” or “really dark brown” or “the color a turkey would be if you put it in the oven at 400 degrees and forgot about it overnight.”
The dark color doesn’t mean your bird is burned. The deep browning is a natural result of Greenberg’s singular smoking process.
2. You don’t eat the skin.
The skin of a Greenberg turkey is unpalatable. It’s leathery, with an overpowering smokiness – again, a result of the way the birds are cooked. Remove it before serving.
Some people save the skin and use it, along with the bones, to make a smoked stock for soups and sauces. I just discard it.
3. Save the oven for pies.
A Greenberg turkey, like all smoked meats, is fully cooked. There’s no need to heat it before serving.
You can warm if you want to – Central Market suggests using an oven bag with slits cut in the top and heating the turkey at 300 degrees for six minutes per pound. But most people say a Greenberg tastes best at room temperature, or even slightly chilled. The robust flavor holds its own at any temperature.
4. Eat, refrigerate or freeze.
Greenberg Smoked Turkeys are shipped frozen. Delivery usually takes two or three days, enough time for the turkey to thaw in transit. You should be able to serve yours right out of the box (once you’ve dealt with that unappetizing skin.)
A Greenberg turkey will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so. Or, you can re-freeze it -- whole or carved.
I cut mine up, wrap each piece in plastic, put them in separate zippered bags, label each, and freeze them. Then I can pull out a drumstick, a thigh, or half a breast whenever I want: Smoked turkey year-round.
Before freezing, I remove the pungent skin, a tip I picked up from Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins. A couple of years ago, before Chris shared that bit of advice, I was rummaging around in my freezer and I noticed the unmistakable smell of wood smoke, which I traced to a couple of Ziplocs containing Greenberg thighs. Even frozen solid and sealed in plastic, that damned mahogany skin made its presence known.
5. Less is more.
The earthy, robust flavor of a Greenberg turkey is best enjoyed in smaller portions. As with any rich food, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. There’s a reason caviar is served with those tiny mother-of-pearl spoons, and not on a 12-inch sub.
When poultry is smoked over fire, it loses some of its water content – quite a lot, in the case of a Greenberg turkey. The bird shrinks, and as it does, the meat becomes firmer, more dense -- and more filling.
So start slow. You can always have seconds. Don’t make the equivalent of what’s come to be known on Posse barbecue tours as “the Rookie Mistake” – stuffing yourself at the first stop, because you’re hungry and it’s Franklin or Snow’s, when you’re hitting four or five joints that same day.
6. Love those leftovers.
The day after man roasted his first whole turkey, he started looking for ways to use up the leftovers. Google “turkey leftover recipe” and you’ll find eleventy-bazillion suggestions. You can add zip to almost any of them by substituting smoked turkey for oven-roasted.
Greenberg Smoked Turkeys has a web page of recipes, for dishes including gumbo, quesadillas, and split pea and barley soup. You’ll find a few more on a card inside the box of each Greenberg turkey.
My favorite of these is the “Greenberg Smoked Turkey Cheese Ball,” not because I’ve tried it but because it sounds like something I might called one of my former bosses, had he been named Greenberg.
For my money, the best leftover recipe is a simple sandwich: turkey on rye with plenty of mayonnaise and a romaine leaf. The soft bread, creamy mayo and crispy lettuce are nice counterpoints to the punch of the smoked meat. And the portion needed to make a sandwich is just about the perfect leftover serving.
Sam Greenberg suggests a “turkey pate,” finely ground turkey mixed with “enough mayo to make it spreadable.” If you don’t have a meat grinder, a food processor works. Add a garnish of thin jalapeno slices, grab a handful of Fritos to use as dipping chips, and serve with a cold beer.