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Loving Your Leftovers

Six new reasons to give thanks for too much turkey

The food on the Thanksgiving table is a bounty to share while celebrating family, friends and the joys of life. Preparing the feast is a labor of love among my family.
    Yet after the frenzy of Thanksgiving cooking, it’s nice to find simple ways to use leftovers while retaining the flavors and special qualities of holiday meals. These recipes are designed to do just that: reinvent Thanksgiving leftovers in easy, flexible ways that are still delicious and satisfying.
    Happy eating!

Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry Mostarda

Cranberry Mostarda is a sweet, fruity mustard that can be used like honey mustard in a variety of concoctions. This mostarda is a great way to change up cranberry sauce and add some different flavors to leftovers. Use it as a condiment on meats, in salad dressings and on sandwiches.
    Cranberry mostarda is an essential flavor in these two post-Thanksgiving sandwiches. The Thanksgiving Bahn Mi mixes Thanksgiving flavors with more traditional Vietnamese bahn mi ingredients such as vegetable sticks, sour pickles and fresh herbs. The Grilled Cheese sandwich is a twist on the classic using the sweetness of cranberry mostarda and apples to balance the savory turkey and cheese.

Cranberry Mostarda
Makes about 1-1⁄4 cup
1 cup cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon or stone ground mustard (your preference)
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce (optional)

    Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 5 more minutes over low heat. Whisk while simmering. Cool before using.


Thanksgiving Turkey Bahn Mi Sandwich

Serves 4
4 small ciabatta rolls or 2 baguettes, cut in half
1 cup shredded turkey
2 Tbsp. cranberry mostarda
2 Tbsp. fresh basil or cilantro leaves
½ cup cucumber slices, bread and butter pickle slices or pickled onion
1 cup leftover roasted carrot sticks or fresh shredded carrot
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (optional)

    Open rolls and cut in half. To make more space for ingredients, hollow out the top half creating a small well. Use a quarter of the ingredients for each roll. For one sandwich, spread 1⁄2 Tbsp. mayonnaise on one side of the roll and ½ Tbsp. cranberry mostarda on the other. Layer the sandwich with 1⁄4 cup roasted carrots on the bottom, 1⁄4 cup shredded turkey meat, 2 Tbsp. cucumbers or pickles and 2 Tbsp. fresh herbs on top. Repeat with the following sandwiches.


Thanksgiving Grilled Cheese

Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices good whole wheat or sourdough bread
1 cup shredded turkey
1 Granny Smith apple
2 Tbsp. cranberry mostarda
½ cup shredded or sliced cheddar cheese
Butter for cooking

    Cut the apple into thin slices or matchsticks about 1⁄8-inch thick. For each sandwich, use one-quarter of the ingredients. For a single sandwich, spread ½ Tbsp. cranberry mostarda and layer one-quarter of the apple slices, 1⁄4 cup turkey and 2 Tbsp. cheddar cheese. Top with second slice of bread.
    Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ Tbsp. butter to start. Rotate the pan to spread the butter around.
    Put sandwich in the pan and grill until light-crispy-brown with cheese melting. Slide a spatula under a corner of the sandwich, hold it down on top with two fingers, and gently lift it up to peek underneath. When the sandwich is brown, flip and grill until the other side has browned. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.
    Add another ½ Tbsp. of butter to the pan, melt and spread, then repeat grilling the other sandwiches.


Turkey Tortilla Soup

Heat up leftovers with this soup that is quick and easy but still savory and complex. Fried tortillas add soft texture and body like what you get from rice.
    Tortillas are optional; omit them for a soup with a clear texture distinction between vegetables and turkey and stock. Alternately, fry the tortillas and let diners stir in as desired. Chipotle chilies in adobo, a key flavor ingredient here, are available in small cans in Latin markets and the Hispanic food aisle in many grocery stores. For more spice, add additional chilies to the stock, one at a time, and taste.

Serves 4
6 cups turkey stock (see recipe below)
2 chipotle chilies in adobo
1 green bell pepper
8 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes
1 onion
3 cups shredded turkey
12 small corn tortillas (optional)
Olive oil for cooking
½ cup shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

    Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot. Dice very finely the chilies in adobo and stir into stock.
    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Chop onion, bell pepper and tomato into ½-inch pieces. Cook in 1 Tbsp. olive oil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and tomatoes break down.
    Peel, mince and cook the garlic, about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir into stock.
    If using tortillas, reheat the skillet with 1 Tbsp. olive oil over high heat. Cut the tortillas into 1-inch strips. Fry in batches until slightly crispy. Mix into the soup (or plate for individual addition).
    Stir shredded turkey into the soup to heat through, about five minutes.
    Top with divided portions cheese and avocado slices.


Turkey Stock

Makes 6 to 8 cups
One quart-sized bag of leftover turkey bones, turkey skin, trimmed turkey fat PLUS onion skins and trimmings, carrot peels, celery ends and leaves and parsley stems. If a whole turkey carcass is leftover for stock, double this recipe.
½ Tbsp. salt
½ Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

    In a large stock or spaghetti pot (about two gallons) heat the oil over high heat. Add the contents of the stock bag to the pot and stir to sear for about two minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to be fragrant.
    Add the salt and add water to cover. Start with eight cups; add more if necessary. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for two hours so the liquid will fully infuse with the flavor of the vegetables and turkey bones. Check occasionally that the stock is not boiling, as boiling will cause too much liquid to evaporate.
    Strain stock through a colander into another large bowl. If desired, pour through cheesecloth to remove smaller particles. Use warm to make soup or cool and jar in refrigerator or freezer (leave an inch and a half head room).


Thanksgiving Potpie

Potpie is an easily assembled dish packed full of savory deliciousness. This post-­Thanksgiving version combines many likely leftovers into a new one-­pot form. The virtue of this potpie is flexibility. Use this recipe as a guide and shift ingredients to incorporate the meats, vegetables and flavors on hand from your Thanksgiving feast. Use roasted vegetables with herbs like rosemary, parsley and sage.
    For this dish, use leftover mashed potatoes to form a piecrust to hold the filling. A potato crust is easier than making a pastry crust, healthier and a fantastic way to use leftover Thanksgiving potatoes. The potatoes couple with a crispy topping of stuffing and savory flavors to make a pie that is meltingly good.
    This recipe is also adaptable to diverse dietary needs. For a vegetarian meal, replace the meat with a combination of diced root vegetables like roasted turnips, fennel or rutabaga. Use a mushroom or onion gravy instead of a gravy made from turkey stock. Gluten-free stuffing made from corn bread will provide the same crispy topping as the stuffing used here, made with wheat bread.

Serves 6
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 tsp. olive oil plus more for greasing
1 small onion, about 1⁄3 cup
2 cups vegetables, such as leftover roasted or fresh carrots, green beans, mushrooms and root vegetables
1½ cups turkey meat
1⁄3 cup turkey gravy
1 tsp. each chopped fresh rosemary and sage

2 cups bread or stuffing
salt to taste

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    Grease a deep pie dish with olive oil. Add mashed potatoes, spreading evenly along bottom and sides with a flexible spatula or the back of a large spoon to form a layer about 1⁄4-inch thick. This won’t take long, but be patient and work the potatoes out from the center and up the sides until there are no gaps.
    Bake this crust for 15 minutes. While you wait, prepare other ingredients. When the crust is done, remove it from the oven, leaving the oven on.
    Peel and chop the onion into about a ½-inch chunks. Add to skillet with 1 tsp. olive oil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until turning translucent.
    If using fresh vegetables, clean and dice into a ½-inch dice and add to onions. They may need a little more oil. Up heat to high and cook the vegetables until still crispy but softening, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn into a mixing bowl.
    If using leftover roasted vegetables, roughly chop into bite-sized pieces and add to a mixing bowl with the cooked onions.
    Add the gravy, herbs and ½ tsp. salt to the bowl. Shred or cut the turkey into bite-sized pieces and add. Stir to mix; taste for seasoning.
    Turn mixture into the crust, filling evenly. Spread the stuffing over the top to cover. If stuffing is very dry, add 2 Tbsp. turkey or vegetable stock before topping.
    Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the stuffing crisps. The filling is already cooked and does not need much baking time.
    Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before eating.


Sweet Potato and Cranberry Sauce Thumbprint Cookies

With subtle spice, crunchy nuts and cranberry tartness, sweet potato cookies are a delicious twist on leftovers.

Makes 24 large cookies
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ cups leftover mashed sweet potato or yam
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup pecans, almonds or walnuts (optional)
½ cup jellied cranberry sauce

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown and granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed until thoroughly blended.
    Add in the egg, vanilla and sweet potato and mix again on medium speed until combined.
    In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Pour these dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl and mix on low speed until well combined.
    Use a heaping tablespoon to scoop cookies onto the baking sheet. Aim for 12 cookies per sheet.
    Chop the nuts into small, fine pieces. Sprinkle over the cookies; push bits of nuts that fall off into the sides of the dough.
    Use floured fingers or the back of a teaspoon to make wells in the middle of each ball of cookie dough. Spoon one teaspoon of cranberry sauce into each well.
    Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until dough starts to firm up and bottoms are browned. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.


About the Author
Caiti Sullivan, of Fairhaven, is an artist and an avid home cook interested in sustainable foods, pickling vegetables and gardening. She regularly publishes recipes on her blog: kanicookit.wordpress.com.