Food & Drink

Chef Ron Hsu’s Recipe for Leftover Turkey

After the holidays, the Atlanta chef simmers a rich, fragrant broth as the base for turkey pho

Photo: Courtesy of Lazy Betty

“My mother always made some sort of broth with all the leftover turkey from Christmas and Thanksgiving meals,” says Ron Hsu, executive chef of Atlanta’s Lazy Betty, the inventive tasting-menu-focused restaurant he opened in Candler Park in February 2019. He named the restaurant—playfully—for his hard-working mother, who operated several Atlanta-area restaurants from 1998 to 2008, and who passed away in May. “I’ve taken on doing this too, and I love pho. Nothing hits the spot like a hot steaming bowl of noodle soup in cold weather.”

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee
Chef Ron Hsu.

Holiday meals for Hsu’s family were always epic affairs. “My mom immigrated seven siblings over from Malaysia, so our house was always the central location for gatherings,” he says. “It was very common for us to have up to forty people at our house.” Hsu’s recipe is the kind that can simmer away all afternoon—right after a Christmas lunch or a few days later as fuel for a college-football gameday. “Usually, after all the eating was done and the broth was simmering, we would have multiple tables of mahjong (a kind of Chinese version of rummy) going,” Hsu recalls. “The tables were organized according to skill level and age. For those who didn’t play mahjong, Christmas movies and football were the other options.” 

This year, a pot of leftover turkey pho will likely be on Hsu’s stovetop when the University of Georgia takes on Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. “I went to UGA for undergrad,” Hsu says. “Go Dawgs!”


  • Leftover Turkey Pho (serves 6)

    • 5 to 6 pounds of turkey carcass or leg bones

    • 6 quarts cold water

    • 2 cinnamon sticks

    • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds

    • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds

    • 6 star anise

    • 6 whole cloves

    • 1 black cardamom pod

    • 2 medium onions, quartered

    • 1 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, halved lengthwise

    • 1 1/2 tbsp. salt

    • 1/4 cup fish sauce

    • 1 1-inch piece yellow rock sugar candy (can substitute a spoonful of regular table sugar)

    • 1 pound small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh “banh pho” noodles

    • 1/2 pound leftover turkey meat

    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onions

    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

    • Garnishes: Sprigs of fresh Thai basil or cilantro, bean sprouts, lime wedges, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, Sriracha


  1. To make the broth: Add turkey bones and carcass to a large pot that will hold at least 10 quarts. Cover bones with cold water and add cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves, and the black cardamom. Place onto low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. Bring water to boil over high heat. 

  2. Meanwhile, move an oven rack to a high position then turn broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place quartered onions and halved ginger onto baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes, turning onions and ginger occasionally so that they become charred on all sides. Add to broth.

  3. Add salt, fish sauce, and the rock sugar to broth. Continue to simmer broth, uncovered, for 3 hours. If at any time foam rises to the surface, use a spoon to skim it off.

  4. After three hours, use tongs or a wide mesh spoon to remove bones, onion, and ginger from broth then strain broth through a fine mesh strainer and reserve. 

  5. Return the broth to the stock pot and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. 

  6. If using dried noodles, add noodles to a bowl then cover with hot water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and opaque. If fresh noodles, add to a colander then rinse with cold water. To cook fresh noodles, bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Place noodles into boiling water and cook for about 10 seconds or until they collapse. Drain noodles then divide between bowls. (“We like to fill each bowl by 1/3 with noodles,” Hsu says.)

  7. Add turkey meat to bowls and top with the hot broth. Finish with onion slices and cilantro and serve alongside a plate of optional garnishes, including sprigs of fresh Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime wedges, fish sauce, hoisin sauce and sriracha.