Leftovers are a conundrum for me. I’m not a fan, but I hate to waste food. If there were ever an opportunity to enjoy leftovers though, Thanksgiving is it. It’s a great opportunity to double-utilize some really beautiful food.
Haricots verts work beautifully with a fresh dose of olive oil and lemon juice to top up a frisee salad. Take the chill off the beans, re-season them to taste, then dress some frisee with more of that olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
If you really want a treat, dice and render some of that leftover bacon and cook up a few sunny-side-up farm-fresh eggs in the bacon fat. Toss your dressed frisee with shaved Parmesan, green beans, and bacon. Add the eggs on the top and voila-la! You have a lovely brunch on-hand. (Croutons optional).
For Brussels sprouts, you can reheat them in a Teflon sauté pan with no fat at all (assuming you cooked them in the first place with either bacon or butter). They too can make a beautiful addition to a salad (like baby spinach). Any vegetable that was cooked in animal fat will have to be re-heated as cold fats are unpalatable. You can toss in any nut that you love (I am a huge fan of pistachios, but seeds like pumpkin or sunflower are just as delicious).
If you want to forgo the salad, you can toss baby spinach directly into the pan with the reheated Brussels sprouts. You’ll probably need a drizzle of acid, preferably a sherry or other red wine vinegar. Don’t overcook the spinach! It needs only a quick toss and some salt and pepper for an instant fresh green side dish.
Stuffing can be pushed into buttered muffin pans and re-baked and served alongside simply scrambled or poached eggs. Enough said.
Consider a Shepherd’s Pie for that leftover mash, either regular or sweet potato. Both are delicious spread over the top of your favorite pub-style meat base and made crunchy-ish in the oven (it could also help you use some of that leftover sausage if you want to get adventurous with that filling). Or, remember those times that you wanted to make croquettes but couldn’t bear the thought of making potato puree just for that? Here’s your chance. Just dice up some of your turkey leg meat, add a handful of your favorite cheese, an egg, a sprinkle of flour to bind, and pan fry til crispy. Yum!
It might be cliché at this point to suggest making a hash with your leftover turkey, but really, the possibilities are vast for a hash. I prefer the dark meat of birds, so I will always suggest using that first. If you want something slightly leaner, go with the breast. Chances are, you have a bevy of leftover aromatics as well: onions, garlic, celery, herbs. Likely there are a couple of surplus potatoes too. You might even consider incorporating some of your leftover stuffing instead of potatoes. Other inclusions could be any number of extras from your big dinner: sausage, nuts, dried fruits, chestnuts, oysters. Shred the meat instead of dicing it: it has a better consistency this way. Of course use any leftover gravy if some moisture is needed.
What I would do with the turkey breast is make a deli-style mayo-based salad to be eaten in a sandwich. Again, some dried fruits and nuts work well here. A dash of curry or the like. If you want to go really far out, leave the mayonnaise and consider some Middle Eastern influences: dill, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked chili, yogurt and a good glug of olive oil. Some sliced radishes, green olives, and toasted walnuts make this one complete. Make sure you have some pita chips on-hand
If there is any chance that you have leftover pies, make sure they come out of the fridge a good while before serving. Ice cold pie is not awesome. You could even reheat it in the oven. And since you probably won’t make more whipped cream, ice cream will do just fine.
Looking for more ideas? Here’s a little more inspiration from Chef Tina.