Thanksgiving, Part 2: Save some leftovers for new comfort food
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Larry Crowe, Associated Press
Here's a recipe for a delicious, easy "leftover sandwich": Take any leftovers you have on hand, including mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy, plus a veggie burger, and place all between two slices of good bread with a bit of cheese. Toss it under the broiler, toast for several minutes, then enjoy.
Leftovers are both the curse and the blessing of Thanksgiving Day and its aftermath.
Left unloved and untended, that foil-wrapped packet of turkey and those dishes of sweet potatoes, beans and stuffing will lurk gloomily in the refrigerator for weeks, pricking your guilty conscience every time you open the refrigerator door and shouldering less assertive perishables into hard-to-reach recesses.
Given prompt and proper attention, though, Thanksgiving leftovers can be made into such delicious dishes that you'll soon be hoarding those turkey slices instead of pushing them onto unsuspecting guests.
The dishes we include here are comfort food, plain and simple, and require only the barest effort to assemble. After spending days brining, baking, boiling and basting, the last thing most cooks want to do is cook.
Besides, we know you're still addled by tryptophan and barely able to keep your eyes open.
For most people, the first foray back to the turkey after the big dinner is to make a turkey sandwich that evening or the following afternoon. And even people with gourmand tendencies often revert to the mayonnaise, white bread, iceberg lettuce and turkey sandwiches of their youth. And that's OK.
But there is another sandwich, a decadently messy and delicious sandwich that might sound unappealing at first, but soon will have you making mini Thanksgiving dinners at random times of the year just so you can make the sandwich.
Any kind of bread will work, but I prefer a good Italian or Vienna-style loaf, sliced about 1/4 inch thick. Put a slice of breast meat on one slice of bread (only during the first day or so after dinner, though, because it will be too dry and should go into a casserole or soup after that), then a crosshatch layer of dark meat.
Then comes a layer of stuffing, and if you don't have enough leftover from dinner (or if you're making this some other time) you can use a quick commercial stuffing mix. Some people put on a little gravy and even some green beans at this point, although I usually go gravy and bean-free because I don't want to have to eat my sandwich over the sink.
Next comes the cranberry sauce, and I have to confess: Canned cranberry, sliced about 1/4 inch thick, is best for this. It holds its shape on the sandwich and it reminds me of my childhood Thanksgiving dinners -- and recapturing that feeling is the whole point of eating cranberry sauce, as far as I'm concerned.
Now comes the crucial moment. Top the sandwich with your other slice of bread, and press down gently with the heel of your hand to squish the sandwich down into a thickness you can fit into your mouth. This step also mixes the cranberry sauce down into the stuffing and turkey, which you will soon discover is essential to making a quality Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich.
Slide it carefully onto a large plate, grab a few napkins and chow down.
Next comes shepherd's pie. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish, put in about an inch of stuffing, then a layer of turkey and a layer of leftover or, if necessary, frozen vegetables. Pour in about a cup of gravy, then top with about an inch of mashed potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil or casserole lid and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes.
Then comes the issue of sweet potatoes, which often get overlooked in our preoccupation with leftover turkey disposal. If that's a problem for you, try the Sweet Potato Pancakes recipe below. And if you still haven't eliminated your turkey burden, we've included a recipe from Butterball that should help lighten the load.
- 2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup bread or cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- Dash nutmeg to taste
Beat egg, then add to sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat but lower heat if butter begins to brown.
Meanwhile, make pancakes. Using hands, pat 1/4 cup of mixture into flat patties about 1/4 inch thick, then dip in bread crumbs. Repeat with rest of mixture, placing each pancake into skillet after it is formed. Fry until crispy on the outside and heated through, about 7 minutes on each side. Place a dollop of sour cream on each pancake, and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serves 4.
Amy McConnell Schaarsmith
Tuscan Pumpkin, White Bean and Turkey Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chicken broth
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
- 2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic; cook and stir 8 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in basil, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add broth, pumpkin, beans and turkey; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
First Published November 20, 2005 12:00 am