Thanksgiving Leftovers are Ready for Reinvention
Let’s be honest, the best part of Thanksgiving is the three-day weekend that follows. The rush to get everything ready for the holiday is over, and you can finally relax with your loved ones—or by yourself, if that’s more your speed. And best of all, you probably have a glorious horde of leftovers to feast on all weekend long.
While Turkey Day is all about tradition, there are no such constraints when it comes to what’s left over. We talked to chefs around the country to compile recipes that use the contents of your take-home containers to create something new and delicious. These are perfect for a casual gathering, or just for you.
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Courtesy Cassidee Dabney, executive chef, The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
Cooks who don’t let anything go to waste will already have seized the turkey carcass to make stock. It’s more robust in flavor, it adds a little something to a classic chicken noodle soup. Along with a hearty topping of lemon juice and crisp cubes of stuffing, this dish is the ideal balance of interest and comfort.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups medium-diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1½ cups medium-diced carrot
- 1 cup medium-diced celery
- 8 cups turkey stock (recipe below) or chicken stock
- 4 cups shredded turkey meat
- 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Stuffing croutons (recipe below)
In large stockpot, warm oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, carrot and celery until starting to brown and become soft. Add stock and turkey meat. Bring to boil.
Add noodles and cook for 2–6 minutes, or according to package instructions.
Add salt, pepper and herbs. Adjust seasoning as needed. Finish with lemon juice. Garnish with stuffing croutons. Any leftovers will freeze well. Serves 4.
Arrange leftover stuffing in 1-inch layer between two pieces of parchment paper. Press between two cookie sheets, and gently weigh down top pan. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from parchment paper, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Drizzle with ½ cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350˚F for 8–10 minutes, or until crispy outside and soft inside.
- Vegetable oil for sautéing
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 gallon salt-free chicken stock
- 1 turkey carcass with neck, skin and trim
- 5–6 dried porcini mushrooms
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown. Add garlic, and cook for 4–5 minutes.
Deglaze with wine, then add chicken stock, turkey carcass, porcini, thyme and bay leaves.
Simmer for 1½–2 hours. Strain and reserve stock. This step can be done a day in advance. Makes 1 gallon.
Herman Story 2016 Tomboy (Santa Barbara County). Andy Chabot, sommelier/food and beverage director at The Barn at Blackberry Farm, looks to a white Rhône-style wine, like this Viognier. “It has a great richness on the palate and lychee-type spiciness that works great with the weight of the dish,” he says. “It also is great with any other Thanksgiving and fall flavors that might be on your table.”
Courtesy Charlie Foster, executive chef, Woods Hill Table, Concord, MA
A leftovers sandwich is not a new invention. This one, from the state where the holiday originated, gets a little dramatic: A loaf of bread is hollowed out, ingredients are layered in and then the whole thing gets pressed to meld the flavors. Chef Charlie Foster, from Woods Hill Table, cautions against multigrain or 100% whole-wheat breads, and those with nuts or seeds embedded, all of which could become crumbly.
- 12-inch round crusty sourdough boule
- 6 tablespoons dressing (recipe below)
- 12 ounces shredded turkey meat
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces braised greens or roasted sweet potato, sliced
- 8 ounces roasted mushrooms, fine-diced
- 12 ounces cooked prime rib, sliced (optional)
Carefully slice off top quarter of boule, and scoop out inside. Spread half of dressing on bottom.
Mix turkey with olive oil. Spread in boule. Add greens or sweet potatoes, followed by mushrooms and beef, if using. Press down each layer with spatula.
Spread remaining dressing on interior side of bread cap, and place back on top of boule.
Wrap boule very lightly in plastic wrap, twice, then wrap tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place on sheet tray. Top with additional sheet tray and heavy weights, like cast-iron skillet or gym weights.
Refrigerate at least 6 hours. Cut into wedges. Serves 4.
Use small whisk to combine 2 tablespoons each whole-grain mustard and cranberry sauce, and 1 tablespoon each hot horseradish and mayonnaise.
Anne-Sophie Dubois 2016 l’Alchimiste (Fleurie). Andrew Rich, beverage director at Woods Hill Table, proposes Beaujolais as a go-to for Thanksgiving redux. “For this hardy sandwich, we are bringing in the cru,” he says. “There is a lot of richness to leftover sandwiches, and we are looking to balance that richness with tannins and acid. For that, I look for a more robust and structured style of Gamay. One of our favorite producers is Anne-Sophie Dubois. While coming from the village of Fleurie, more known for its elegance, the winemaking is so well done that you get the whole deal.”
Courtesy Ann Kim, chef/owner, Young Joni, Minneapolis
“For me, Thanksgiving is all about the sides and less about the turkey,” says Ann Kim, owner/chef of Young Joni in Minneapolis. “This is a recipe that will be a break from turkey… If you don’t have roasted squash as a leftover, feel free to use any leftover roasted vegetable such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.” She also recommends adding any leftovers from a cheese or charcuterie board instead of, or in addition to, the bacon and blue cheese.
- 9 ounces store-bought or homemade pizza dough (recipe below)
- 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup diced roasted butternut squash
- 2 ounces cooked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1½ ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ½ tablespoon pine nuts
- 1–2 tablespoons maple syrup
Let pizza dough rest at room temperature for 1–2 hours.Place baking steel, pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Heat oven to 500˚F.
Push dough into flat 12-inch round. Place on well-floured pizza peel or baking sheet. Top with mozzarella, squash, bacon, blue cheese, rosemary and pine nuts. Carefully slide pizza onto cooking surface. Bake 4–5 minutes, then rotate. Bake another 4–5 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese begins to bubble. Remove from oven. Drizzle with maple syrup. Serves 2.
- 4¼ cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
In bowl of stand mixer with dough hook, combine flour, yeast and 1¾ cups cold water. Mix with on low speed for 1 minute. Add salt, and mix for 3 minutes. If dough seems dry, add up to ¼ cup cold water.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then mix again on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until dough no longer sticks to side of bowl. It should be tacky to touch, but not wet or sticky. If dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If too wet, mix in flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Transfer dough to well-floured work surface, and gently roll into ball. Using sharp knife, cut into 4 even pieces, about 9 ounces each. Place on baking sheet covered in olive oil or cooking spray. Use pastry brush to cover dough pieces in additional olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, and up to 1 week. Makes enough for 4, 12-inch pizzas.
Dominio del Urogallo 2015 Pésico Tinto (Vino de España). Pizza is a many-splendored thing. Depending on its toppings, it can work with the full spectrum of white, orange, rosé and red wines. To match the bold cheese and meat on this pie, Megan Larsen, wine director at Young Joni, picks this Northern Spanish red blend, produced with indigenous grapes and wild yeast. With plenty of freshness, it will keep the sweetness of the squash and maple syrup at bay. Larsen’s other pick? Sikèle Grecanico orange wine. “It’s bomb,” she says.
Courtesy Tim Love, owner/chef, Love Style Inc., Fort Worth, TX
Has there ever been a more leftover-friendly food than the frittata? Tim Love runs a small empire of restaurants around Texas and in Knoxville, Tennessee, including Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, White Elephant Saloon and Love Shack. His signature “urban Western” cuisine translates, in this case, to a cozy dish with some flair in the form of fresh herbs doused in bright lemon juice. It’s easy enough for brunch and hearty enough for dinner.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- Black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups packed fresh Lacinato kale chiffonade (or 2 cups leftover braised greens)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
- 12 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 cups shredded turkey
- ¼ cup cream
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- ¼ cup whole leaves flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to 400˚F.
In large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, shallots and grind of pepper. Add kale or cooked greens. (Use caution with raw kale, as it tends to pop.) Cook, stirring, until limp or warmed. Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Season with salt, to taste. Transfer to paper towels to dry out.
Mix eggs, turkey, cream, salt, pepper and kale or greens.
Warm remaining oil over medium-high heat in cast-iron or oven-safe nonstick pan. Pour in egg mixture. As edges start to set, use rubber spatula to peel them back to allow uncooked eggs to move to edges.
Mix herbs with remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Scatter atop egg mixture. Transfer skillet to oven for 12–15 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through. Cut into slices. Serves 4–6.
Château d’Esclans 2017 Whispering Angel Rosé (Côtes de Provence). In many ways, this ultrapale rosé, recommended by Love, echoes the frittata in feel. It’s casual yet refined, classic and easy, so it’s a natural pairing whether you linger over brunch or dinner. Its acidity and bold red fruits stand up beautifully to the hearty kale and turkey, and it doesn’t overpower the delicate herbs and tangy goat cheese.
- 1Turkey Noodle Soup with Crispy Stuffing Croutons
- 2Day-After-Thanksgiving Farmhand’s Sandwich
- 3Squash Pizza
- 4Turkey and Kale Frittata