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Pasta with Turkey Bolognese


Serves 6

For a spin on the classic (and a chance to use Thanksgiving leftovers), we’ve replaced the customary ground meat with diced roast turkey. If you have leftover broth from the Turkey Soup with Dill, Parsley, and Chive Dumplings, it's perfect here. For a smoky flavor, substitute bacon for the pancetta.

  • 1/2 lb. pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fennel seed, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • One 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup homemade turkey broth or lower-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups medium-diced roast turkey
  • 1 lb. dried rigatoni or penne (or another sturdy pasta shape)

Heat a wide, heavy-duty 6- to 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until its fat begins to render, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the fennel seed and pepper flakes.

Add the tomatoes and white wine. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the broth, milk, parsley, and bay leaves. Stir well, return to a boil, and season with a little salt. (Underseason, as the sauce will reduce and concentrate the salt.) Lower the heat to medium low and simmer until reduced by about one-third, 30 to 40 minutes.

Add the turkey, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the flavors are fully developed and the sauce is thick and rich, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste with salt.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain. Toss the pasta with the bolognese and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Garlic-Parmesan Bread.

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've made this now post-thanksgiving for several years, and it comes out fantastic each time. I actually plan on making extra turkey each year so I make sure I have leftovers to make this recipe. It is a go to recipe for me. Most years I do it with bacon instead of pancetta, as I usually have some lying around. Great because most of the ingredients are lying around, so I can avoid going to the grocery store again - since i haven't usually thought through the meals post-thanksgiving. I think for the reviewer who said it came out bland, the lack of good flavorful turkey is certainly going to tank the entire recipe. It is a thick hearty bolognese for me.

Didn't care for this at all. Sauce turned out to be very watery and bland and didn't get any better as leftovers. I didn't use leftover turkey and instead used ground which may have made a slight difference but not sure. Just bland.

This was very good-my husband said it was better than the Thanksgiving turkey!

This was great. My new "Friday after Thanksgiving" dish. I, too, used bacon, but other than that followed the recipe exactly.

Made this with leftover turkey from the porchetta style roasted turkey breast in the same issue. It was excellent. Read my full review at:

I used bacon and chicken (2 breasts),other than that I followed the recipe (except for a few dashes of red wine vinegar at the end because I didn't want to add more salt) and it was delicious. So flavorful and hearty. Usually make bolognese with pork, but I really enjoyed the chicken instead. Will definitely make this again. I topped with fresh basil and pecorino and will do that again.

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