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NPR Holiday Leftovers Presents: Linda Wertheimer's Turkey Tacos


Every November since life first crawled out of the ocean, our friend Susan Stamberg shamelessly broadcast a family recipe for Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. The relish is hot pink, like the neon sign over an adult bookstore, and redolent of horseradish. So this holiday season - coughing at the mere thought of it - we decided to give other colleagues a chance to share their family's prized dish. This morning, we're joined by Linda Wertheimer. Linda, thanks for being with us.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, BYLINE: Well, thank you very much.

SIMON: You bring us a recipe that can only be made after Thanksgiving.

WERTHEIMER: That's right because you need to pick the turkey to pieces and have sort of exhausted all of the traditional leftover creations - turkey tetrazzini...

SIMON: Turkey sandwiches with cranberry and stuffing.

WERTHEIMER: Yeah, turkey sandwiches with every - the reprise of the meal in a sandwich.

SIMON: Yeah. OK. What is the recipe?

WERTHEIMER: Turkey tacos. Now, you could make turkey enchiladas, but that's complicated. Turkey tacos does two things. It gives you something really hot, spicy that you don't generally get with your turkey dinner, and it gives you something crispy. I think one of the most irritating things about Thanksgiving dinner is it's almost all mushy.

SIMON: It's a crackle-free meal, isn't it?

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Yeah.

SIMON: So how do you make turkey tacos?

WERTHEIMER: Well, when you get the turkey down to a carcass situation...

SIMON: Yeah.

WERTHEIMER: Get it - strip the meat off of it. It'll pretty much come out in strips. And then all you need to do is buy the tortillas, but just fry them lightly to get them - make them flexible. Put shredded turkey into them. Put them back in the frying pan to get crisp and brown. What you have at the end is a low-intensity amount of work in order to get something that is crispy and spicy and uses up the last bits of the turkey.

SIMON: The spice you mention - what is it?

WERTHEIMER: Green chiles.

SIMON: Green chiles. OK. That's important to mention that.

WERTHEIMER: Preferably...

SIMON: Yeah. OK.

WERTHEIMER: Preferably raw. That'll get your heart started.

SIMON: Yeah. And valuable vitamin C, too, I'm told.

WERTHEIMER: Absolutely (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah. So you have some leftover turkey waiting for you at home in the fridge?

WERTHEIMER: Sad to say, we went to Nina Totenberg's house for Thanksgiving, and she had the most wonderful dinner. It was really a good dinner, but she did not give me any turkey to take home.

SIMON: (Laughter) You know, we've been in Nina Totenberg's dinner. She sometimes makes guests bring their own food. Have you noticed that?


SIMON: Says it's just more efficient that way.

WERTHEIMER: I did bring a pie (laughter).

SIMON: Well, Mrs. Wertheimer, thank you very much for being with us. And you're going to be on the air tomorrow hosting Weekend Sunday.

WERTHEIMER: Yes, yes. And I hope after that I'm going to go home and cook a turkey so that we will have some leftovers.


SIMON: And in the weeks that follow, we'll have more holiday recipes, both delightful and dismaying from NPR colleagues. Linda, thanks for bringing this one our way.

WERTHEIMER: Thank you very much, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.