When we plan our Thanksgiving weekend, we plot out each meal and how we’ll use leftovers. We have a standing joke between us now.

“And for Saturday?” Brian will ask.

“Smokey Joe’s tart,” I will laugh. There is no question that one weekend meal has to be this tart.

In all honesty, this tart is the very best way to use leftover turkey.

Carole Walter published Great Pies and Tarts in 1998. We still use our original copy, although it is literally falling apart. And each year since 1998 we’ve made this tart, either after Thanksgiving or Christmas. Carole says that it was her favorite recipe when writing the book.

If you enjoy Southwestern flavors, then you are going to die for this mix of turkey, onion, corn, cilantro, and beans. It’s vibrant and satisfying. The recipe calls for smoked turkey, but turkey leftovers were destined to be served in the cornmeal pastry that encircles all the wonderful ingredients.

Coming out of the oven, the smell of pastry, turkey, beans and just broiled cheese will spark up your appetite no matter how stuffed you remain from Thanksgiving.

If you’ve never seen this book by Carole Walter, then I urge you to find a copy of Great Pies and Tarts. Of course, each recipe from Carole is meticulously tested so you know they will work. More importantly, the book is filled with recipes I’ve never seen anywhere else, tongue intriguing entries like:

  • Cinnamon Crumb and Plums Tart
  • Autumn Pear and Grape Pie in Cheddar Pastry
  • Glazed Banana Lemon Tart

Every page you turn make you want to stop and bake. Start with the savory idea from Carole and work your way towards dessert.

Smokey Joe’s Turkey Tart

Yield:  6 to 8 servings


  • 1 recipe Golden Cornmeal Pastry [recipe follows]
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 6 ounces (2 ¼ inch-thick slices)
  • 1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mince garlic
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup cooked black beans
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish



Shape the Pastry

You’ll need a 14X 17 inch  cookie sheet. The pastry is rolled directly on the cookie sheet. Cut a piece of 18-inch-siede aluminum foil, measuring about 6 inches large than the edge of the pan. Place the foil over the cookie sheet so that the ends extend over the sides. Tuck the ends under and smooth surface.

Sprinkle the pan with a 1 tablespoon of cornmeal, making a large circle. Place the pastry in the center of the pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour and cover with a piece of baking parchment. Roll the dough, preferably with a tapered rolling pin into a 15-inch circle.

Fold the edge of the pastry under, making a 1-inch border. The circle should measure 13inches in diameter. Flute the edge and prick the center lightly with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake the pastry for 18 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. If the center puffs up, tap it gently with the bottom of a fork to expel the air. Cool the pastry shell before filling.

Make the Filling

Preheat the broiler. Position the rack so that it is about 6 inches from the head source. Wash and dry the red pepper. Cut it in half lengthwise and remove the tem, seeds, and white veins. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and place the red pepper cut side down on the foil. Broil the pepper until it is well charred and skin is black. Removed from the oven and wrap the aluminum foil around it. Make the package airtight so that the pepper can steam. Let stand about 1 5minutes. Using a paring knife, remove the skin. Dice the pepper into ¼-inch pieces.

Following the grain of the meat, pull the turkey into thin shreds. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the olive oil until transparent. Stir in the garlic and cook briefly. Add the corn, cover the skillet, and cook until the corn is almost tender. Sir in the diced red pepper and cilantro. Seaton to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. The tart can be made ahead to his point. Just warm the vegetables and proceed from this point.

Assemble the Tart

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

Spread the sautéed vegetables over the baked pastry shell. Scatter the black beans and shredded turkey over the vegetables. Lay a square of aluminum foil loosely over the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the filling is heated through. Remove the aluminum foil. Sprinkle the top with Monterey Jack cheese.

Move the oven rack to the upper third of the oven and turn the oven setting to broil. The tart should not be too close to the heat source or it will burn. Lightly brown the cheese topping, 15 to 20 seconds. Watch carefully. To serve, slide the tart onto a platter with the help of a long spatula. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve while hot.


Cover any leftover tart with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freezing is not recommended.

Golden Cornmeal Pastry

Yield:  1 11-inch tart


  • 1 cup unsifted al-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup firm unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg white


Place the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend.

Add the butter, and pulse 4 or 5 times, then process for 8 to 10 seconds. Stop the machine, remove the cover, and add the egg white. Pulse 4 or 5 times, then process for 5 to 8 seconds, just until a dough is formed.

With lightly floured hands form the dough into a 5- to 6-inch disk. Dust with flour, score with the side of your hand, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using. Roll as directed in the recipe.

Source: Great Pies and Tarts by Carole Walter