Thank goodness, then, for the meal’s many leftovers, which give those of us who prepare the holiday feast a second (and maybe even a third) chance to show off our culinary mettle — hopefully at a much more relaxed pace, without the insanity of a typical Thanksgiving meal prep, where so many things have to come out of the oven at exactly the right time.
We’re not talking about the boring turkey sandwiches. Ditto on simply reheating the spuds, corn or rolls, which is equally uninspired.
To really keep the celebration going, why not get your creative juices flowing with recipes that reinvent what you just had for dinner instead of simply duplicating it? That way, your leftovers won’t feel like, you know, leftovers but rather like something special.
Blended with oil and vinegar and a little Dijon mustard, surplus cranberry sauce is easily transformed into a tangy-sweet salad dressing. Mashed potatoes mixed with cheddar and chives are reborn as savory, pop-in-your-mouth mini muffins. With a little garlic and chili, rolls destined to chopped into bread crumbs become tender sponges for a spicy egg drop soup. Chilies also can breath new life into leftover bowls of corn, folded into an eggy batter to be fried up into griddle cakes.
As for the main event turkey? This year, why not forgo the traditional leftover turkey casseroles, pot pies, turkey a la kings and turkey-frame soup in favor of a slow cooker chowder made with wild rice, wine and mushrooms?
Enjoy, it’s less than a month until you have to do it all again for Christmas.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Dressing
Cranberry sauce doesn’t only have to be paired with turkey — It also can brighten up a salad, as this tangy vinaigrette demonstrates.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Process ingredients in blender until smooth. Serve over tossed or chopped greens.
Makes about 1 cup dressing.
— Southern Living
Leftover Bread Egg Drop Soup with Garlic and Chili
A warming soup for cool fall nights.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic paste
2 Thai chilies, sliced
12 bite-sized pieces stale, crusty bread
6 cups chicken broth
4 large eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons shredded Gruyere cheese
In large stockpot over medium-low heat, warm oil. Add garlic paste and chilies. Stir occasionally for about 8 to 10 minutes until garlic is fragrant but not browned.
Add bread and stir evenly to coat. Pour in chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and stir in eggs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve garnished with oregano and cheese.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
— Chile Pepper magazine
Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Muffins
Spin your leftover spuds into something spectacular with this easy recipe. If you like, add diced turkey or ham. Be sure to grease the muffin tin really well so that the potatoes don’t stick to the pan. The end result is like potato chips — impossible to eat just one.
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a non-stick mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the mashed potatoes, egg, ¾ cup cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the potato mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan, packing the potatoes down into each cup.
Bake muffins for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and crisp around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven, top the muffins with the remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese and return them to the oven for 3 more minutes. Remove muffins from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Transfer muffins to a serving dish, top them with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chopped chives and serve immediately.
Makes 24 mini muffins.
Leftover Corn and Jalapeno Griddle Cakes
These griddle cakes can be stored in a zip top bag in the fridge for up to 2 days, or the freezer for up to 1 month. Simply heat them in a toaster when ready to eat.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1½ cups cooked corn kernels
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, use a fork to lightly beat the milk, melted butter and egg. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture. Add the corn and jalapeno. Use a fork to stir until just mixed and there are no visible traces of flour.
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the skillet — if they “dance” across it, the skillet is ready. Add a pat of butter and swirl to coat. Drop scant ¼ cupfuls of batter into the skillet, leaving 1 to 2 inches between each cake. Cook until set around the edges and air bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook 1 to 2 more minutes. Serve hot.
— Food Network
Leftover Turkey and Wild Rice Chowder
Hearty and flavorful, not to mention easy to throw together, this chowder is perfect for those lazy nights when all you want to do after work is curl up on the couch with a hot bowl of soup. Don’t forget the crusty bread for sopping.
Several tablespoons of turkey pan drippings or olive oil
3 medium celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
8 ounces mushrooms, stems included, chopped
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 cup dry white wine
1 ounce (1/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups wild rice
1 cup white basmati rice
5 cups turkey or chicken stock
Bouquet garni of 3 fresh sage leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf and 1 small rosemary sprig, tied together
2 cups diced cooked turkey
Preheat slow cooker to low.
Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with turkey drippings/olive oil. Saute celery, carrots, mushrooms and onion in batches until lightly browned. Transfer vegetables to a slow cooker.
Add wine to pan and simmer for several minutes. Transfer wine to slow cooker. Add porcini mushrooms, wild rice, basmati rice, stock and bouquet garni to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours until wild rice has split open and softened.
Remove 2 cups soup with rice in it. Puree until creamy. Add pureed mixture back to slow cooker and stir to combine. Add turkey, cover and cook for 30 minutes more.
Remove bouquet garni. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and sage.
— “Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes” by Laura Frankel (Surrey Books)