All year, I long for the week after Thanksgiving. Oh, I love the holiday itself. It’s got all the feasting and family and none of the gift drama. But the week after Thanksgiving is really something special. Fabulous dishes that for some reason we reserve for only this time of year and the work is already done.
I know there are some who tire of leftovers, who feel once a meal is over they’d rather move on, but really what you have here is a goldmine just waiting for a few pushes in the right direction to become entirely new fresh and different dishes.
So let’s get down to birds shall we? It doesn’t matter if Grandma dried that breast meat to a stringy mess or your juicy brined Saveur creation stole the show, the best thing you have left from that bird is the bones. Truly you have a goldmine of soups and sauces just waiting to be made all you have to do is throw together a little stock. If this is the one and only time of year you make stock, it’s worth it! Either on the stovetop like this simple method from CHOW or in a crockpot (yes, a crockpot!). It’s as easy as putting bones water and vegetable and herb trimmings in a pot and waiting… and after Thanksgiving that’s just efficient cleanup right? Have your pot ready and throw it all in while the game’s on.
Now that you have that covered what to do with it? Well soup of course! Turkey and noodle is classic, but you could just as easily add some slices of turkey meat, ginger, rice noodles, and top your soup with fresh herbs like cilantro, scallions and basil … leftover thanksgiving turkey Pho! I personally love an Italian wedding soup with turkey stock and leftover turkey right in the meatballs! I just can’t resist leaving you with my recipe below, it’s been a hit in my cooking classes this month.
Don’t forget to save some stock for cooking your rice, quinoa, and couscous, you’ll be amazed how much flavor it adds. Freeze some of the broth in ice cube trays for portioned tablespoons just perfect for tossing into a pan after cooking chicken breasts any night of the week, add minced garlic and a sprinkling of tarragon for a pan sauce that makes that chicken breast look a lot less boring.
As for all that leftover meat, there are only so many turkey sandwiches one can get excited about, even with a killer cranberry sauce to add tang. Almost as simple as a sandwich, turkey cottage pie is just begging to be made. Leftover vegetables mixed with diced turkey, leftover gravy and topped with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes crisped in the oven until bubbly. Make one now and freeze one for later.
For those hosting hordes of guests over the weekend, a breakfast hash can be miraculous. Chop sauté onions, potatoes, and leftover vegetables, mix in diced turkey and top the whole thing with a fried egg per person. My personal plan is a Thanksgiving chopped salad. It’s just the thing to save you after a day of heavy meals, shopping strategy and family togetherness. Use fresh greens, turkey, roasted vegetables and vinaigrette made from apple cider vinegar to wake the whole thing up; almost makes you feel justified in eating that leftover pie.
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 ½ cups diced cooked turkey (leftover roasted turkey is perfect)
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage or turkey Italian sausage
- 2 slices bread, crust removed
- ¼ c turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon red crushed pepper
- 3 cups chopped spinach or Swiss chard
- 6 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups cooked garbanzo beans
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Tear bread into chunks and put into a medium bowl; add ¼ cup stock and let soak 5 minutes. Add teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon thyme, salt, pepper, sausage, turkey, and garlic to bowl. Mix well and let chill in the fridge until you are ready to form meatballs.
- Heat soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, chopped onion, carrots, and celery to pan; cook 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, red crushed pepper, greens and broth. Bring to a boil.
- Once broth is at a boil form meat mixture into balls, and pop them one by one into the simmering soup. The meatballs will poach, sort of like a meat dumpling. Once all meatballs are in add garbanzo beans. Simmer 7-10 minutes until meat is fully cooked. Remove from heat, add vinegar, and taste to adjust salt and pepper.