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Thanksgiving Leftovers Reimagined

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 07:00
Leftover mashed potato pancakes with scallions and parsley, and a salad with watercress, arugula, leftover sweet potatoes, mushrooms, pecans, and cherry tomatoes in a ginger-garlic dressing are two ways to use up the remains of Thanksgiving's bounty.
Laura Donnelly

It is very likely that we will all be faced with a refrigerator full of leftover Thanksgiving comestibles on Friday. Let us give thanks for that. But what to do?

Turkey sandwiches on good toasted white bread, piled with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and some crisp leaves of romaine are always a popular post-Turkey Day lunch. Turkey enchiladas and soups are a great way to create another meal. 

What about all the bits and bobs, flotsam and jetsam left over? A heart of celery, a bunch of parsley, half a can of sweet potato cubes, some good chicken stock, the mashed potatoes? (Don't forget, if you're not up for making your own mashed potatoes, get them from Red Horse Market, the winner of our taste test of store-bought mashed potatoes a few months ago.)

I put the question of what to do with leftover ingredients out to my Facebook friends and got a lot of creative suggestions. 

Peter Ambrose, caterer extraordinaire and creator of Endless Summer sauces, rubs, and seasonings, suggested turkey croque monsieur with cranberry mustard, gravy in place of bechamel sauce, and any leftover cheeses from your cheese platter. Albert Fierro makes croquetas from mashed potatoes. They can be filled with ham, turkey, cheese, and/or veggies before breading and frying. Dave Gibbons makes a thick turkey stock and uses it as a base for sweet potato or butternut squash soup. Leftover bread becomes croutons for topping. Susan Sperling Jordan makes turkey tetrazzini like her mom's. Don't you just love a retro, comforting, creamy, noodle dish this time of year? 

Chef Colin Ambrose of Estia's Little Kitchen gets inspiration from his Dutch grandmother and makes hutspot. Carrots and potatoes are mashed, and in lieu of the traditional shredded braised beef he uses leftover turkey and adds a thin layer of cranberry sauce to the middle. 

Bridget LeRoy has a friend who makes eggrolls with turkey and stuffing and uses the cranberry sauce for dipping. Terrell Lamb makes potato pancakes with mashed potatoes and adds lots of chopped scallions and parsley. Our beloved Sheridan Sansegundo, former Star arts editor and food writer, makes turkey pot pie, and Steve Proffitt, who hails from Louisiana, says they throw all the leftovers into a gumbo and toss the peelings into the garden.  Another chef friend, Adrienne Nelson, makes giant raviolis sauced with gravy and cranberry sauce.

I'm going to try a lot of these suggestions, and for sure, I will be making my friend Andrea Barthello's mom Mary's soup with leftover turkey, wild rice, onions, celery, and mushrooms. I make this soup year round with fresh organic chicken breasts, and it is hearty and filling yet light at the same time. And since we may all be done with rich, creamy foodstuffs, a salad of watercress, sweet potato cubes, mushrooms, toasted pecans, and cherry tomatoes with a bracing dressing full of ginger and garlic is a great way to get back to "eating the rainbow."

The appropriately final suggestion I received was from friend Maury Schlesinger: "feed the dog." Indeed. Let's not forget that our four-legged family members deserve a tryptophan treat, too!

Here are some recipes to get you inspired.
Terrell's Mashed Potato Pancakes

This is more of a guideline than actual recipe because you have to adjust the additions based on the moisture of your mashed potatoes.

Makes approximately 8 to 10, depending on size.

4 cups mashed potatoes, cold or room temperature
3-4 Tbsp. flour
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped 
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 egg, well beaten

Combine mashed potatoes with flour and egg. Beat well. Add additional salt and pepper if desired. Fold in scallions and parsley and mix well. If mixture seems too wet, add a bit more flour.

Form into patties about three quarters of an inch thick.

In large frying pan over medium heat, add four tablespoons neutral oil. 

Fry the pancakes a few at a time, and do not flip for about five minutes. When well browned on bottom, carefully flip over and fry about five minutes more. Drain on paper-towel-lined plate and serve hot with sour cream and apple sauce. 

Andrea's Mom's Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Makes 10 cups

1 cup wild rice (or Lundberg's mixed rice)
4 cups water
1 3/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. each curry powder, dry mustard
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup good dry sherry
2 cups cooked cubed turkey

Cook wild rice with four cups water and three quarters teaspoon salt for approximately 40 minutes. Drain.

Cook onion in butter or oil until soft, then add mushrooms and celery. Cook 10 minutes more. Add flour and stir a few minutes to get raw flour taste out. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir until thickened.

Add cooked rice, spices, milk, and sherry. Simmer 15 minutes. Add turkey meat and simmer on low a few minutes more. 

Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Dusty's Salad
I have shared this salad recipe before but that was a long time ago. I think I cut it out of the Washington Post before most of you were born.

Serves four to six. 
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed green peppercorns
2/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon (I hate these inaccurate measurements so I'll say 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice)
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 bunches watercress leaves (in a pinch use arugula)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch scallion tops, chopped
2 cooked sweet potatoes, cubed (or approximately 1 1/2 cups cubed canned sweet potatoes)
1/2-3/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped

Make and whisk dressing. This recipe is meant to be salt-free for those who must restrict salt intake, but I add salt to the dressing.

Combine salad ingredients in big bowl and toss with dressing. Serve immediately.

The Hot Brown
This recipe isn't very well known outside of Kentucky. It was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, hence the name: Hot Brown. This is the original recipe from a postcard from the Brown Hotel. 

Makes two. 

2 oz. butter
2 oz. flour
8 oz. heavy cream, warmed
8 oz. whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup pecorino cheese grated, plus 1 Tbsp. for garnish
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
14 oz. thick-sliced turkey breast
4 slices Texas toast (this is just thick white bread, you can improvise with a Pullman loaf, brioche, challah, whatevs)
4 slices crisp bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, halved (you can use any sliced tomato)

Begin by making a Mornay sauce: In a two-quart saucepan cook butter and flour until it becomes a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk cream and milk into roux, and simmer over low heat about two to three minutes. Take off the heat and add pecorino cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat oven to 350.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast, crusts cut off, into an oven-safe dish. Cut other slice into triangles to place on edge of dish. Divide turkey slices and place on toast. Place tomato halves/slices and triangle toast slices around edge of dish. Cover with Mornay sauce and sprinkle with remaining pecorino. Place dish in oven and bake about 20 minutes.

When cheese is bubbling and browning, remove from oven and top with slices of bacon, paprika, and parsley and serve.

I have also seen recipes that suggest broiling the top before serving.

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