For some people, the whole point of Thanksgiving dinner is to have leftovers. These are the people who intentionally buy a monster-size bird, mash way too many potatoes and pop an extra pie in the oven.
“In our house, the leftovers are the most exciting part of Thanksgiving. It’s such a great opportunity to use your creative juices to come up with new ways to use them up,” says Allie Lewis Clapp, food director at Real Simple magazine.
And if inspiration fails?
“Truthfully,” admits Clapp, mother of a 7-month-old girl, “this year, we may be whizzing them in the food processor, then stowing them in the freezer for the baby to eat for the next few months.”
Don’t want to resort to making baby food? Here are some other ideas for the second and third days of Thanksgiving dinner.
“A plate of reheated feast is great for a day or so, but after that, you crave something different,” says Ann Taylor Pittman, senior food editor at Cooking Light magazine. “Luckily, turkey’s neutral flavor makes it incredibly adaptable, going from straightforward Americana to Asian to Latin to many flavors in between.”
• Turn leftover turkey and Brussels sprouts or green beans into an Asian stir fry, says Eve Felder, an associate dean at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Season it with hoisin and soy sauce and serve over rice.
• Turkey samosas are an easy way to take leftover turkey out of the Thanksgiving realm. Clapp suggests cutting store-bought refrigerated rolled pie crust into eight triangles. Mix 1 cup shredded leftover turkey with 1/4 cup mango chutney.
Top the triangles with the turkey mixture and 1/2 cup of leftover mashed potatoes. Brush the edges with water, then fold the dough over to pinch together the corners and seal the edges. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes.
• Or make barbecue turkey sandwiches. Clapp suggests heating leftover turkey and adding barbecue sauce. Serve it over soft sandwich rolls with a sliced celery salad with crumbled blue cheese and vinaigrette.
• Holley Grainger, food editor at MyRecipes.com, suggests a turkey Alfredo pizza. “Collard greens and leftover turkey meld beautifully with store-bought Alfredo sauce and nutty fontina cheese, resulting in an easy yet inventive meal,” she says.
Leftover mashed potatoes never quite reheat to their former creamy glory, so combine them with other ingredients (such as cheese) that enhance their creaminess. Or use them in applications where their texture is completely transformed, says Cooking Light’s Pittman.
• Pittman recommends forming cakes out of mashed potatoes, egg, cheddar cheese and cooked bacon, then rolling them in panko breadcrumbs and frying them.
• For a cold day, Clapp recommends a creamy mashed potato and leek soup. Saute 3 chopped leeks and 1 chopped fennel bulb in olive oil. Add 3 cups of leftover mashed potatoes and 6 cups of chicken broth. Cook until heated through, then puree.
• And Grainger says all those sweet potatoes can be turned into sweet potato pancakes. Serve with maple syrup, butter and fresh fruit. Or try mashed potato latkes with zucchini and dill.
• Leftover stuffing can be spooned into portobello mushroom caps, baked, then topped with grated Parmesan.
• Clapp likes to use leftover stuffing in a meatloaf with a marmalade glaze. Combine 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef with 2 cups of stuffing and 1 large egg, then season with salt and pepper.
On a foil-lined baking sheet, form the mixture into a 9-inch loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then brush with a mixture of 1/4 cup orange marmalade and 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard and cook for another 20 minutes.
An easy yet fresh option for cranberry sauce is pairing it with cheese, says Clapp.
Try spreading it on a ham and grilled cheese sandwich, using it as a topping for spicy cheese and jalapeno quesadillas, or simply placing it on a cheese board to accompany tangy or smooth cheeses.
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