Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving 101: Using Up Leftovers

What’s up with people saying “We have so many leftovers!” like it’s a bad thing? If you still have remains of Thanksgiving Day in your fridge, and you're sick of sandwiches, here are a few ideas on reducing, reusing, and recycling that food.

Most of your meal should still be edible five days out...but as always, gentle reader, we disclaim any liabilities for food-borne illness. (And yes, fine, maybe you could have used these tips a few days ago, but it took a while to recover from this meal's ensuing food coma, mmmkay?) If you're out of Turkey Day remnants, keep these tips in mind for future occasions when you've cooked too much.


  • Turkey pot pie: Shred or chunk turkey; combine it in a gratin pan/baking dish with creamed onions, a handful of frozen peas and/or corn, and a few sliced mushrooms. Cover with a sheet of puff pastry, poke a few air holes with a fork, and bake at 350° until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.

  • Turkey tetrazzini: A great old-school pasta dish that is easily tweaked to be leftovers-friendly. Heat some cream-sauced green beans and mushrooms from your green bean casserole in a saucepan with shredded turkey; toss with pasta.

  • Curried turkey salad: Do this. But with turkey.

  • Stock: The turkey carcass you’re left with is ideal for making stock. You can freeze the stock in plastic pint and/or quart containers from Chinese take-out, sour cream containers, or what have you, and it will keep long enough to be used in your next Thanksgiving dinner, so it’s all, like, circle of life, or something.

    Cranberry Sauce

  • Cranberry sauce or relish can be folded into quick breads, cakes (e.g., banana bread, lemon pound cake), or muffins. You can freeze the cranberries in Tupperware for a couple weeks if you’d like to make said quick breads to give away as Chrismukkah presents. (More on this soon.)

    Spinach/Artichoke Dip

  • A little leftover spinach/artichoke dip would be great folded into an omelet. If you have a good amount of it (though that seems highly unlikely), you could chop it into chunks and distribute it across a pie crust or sliced potatoes, then pour an egg mixture over it to make a quiche or a frittata, respectively. Choosing to include cooked bacon would be excellent.

    Mashed Potatoes

  • Potato Croquettes: Mix mashed potatoes with some grated Parmesan and a lightly beaten raw egg. Roll ice-cream-scoop-sized balls of the potato mix in panko bread crumbs. Chill balls on a baking sheet in the fridge, then fry in butter.

  • Shepherd's Pie: Leftover mashed potatoes are ideal for a shepherd's pie topping; use browned ground lamb or beef, or do a variation with leftover turkey.

    Brussels Sprouts

  • Pasta: Toss roasted sprouts with pasta, cooked bacon, and grated Parmesan.


  • Do what the Beez did and throw a dessert party for your friends. Make them bring wine and/or champagne. Slice up the desserts so they don't look picked-over. Who says holiday entertaining has to be expensive?

    And with that, BGC's Thanksgiving 101 series is complete, and Chrismukkah draws nigh! Time to move on to visions of sugarplums beef tenderloin and potato pancakes. And cookies—lots and lots of cookies! Stay tuned....


    1. Kitty, with leftover mashed potatoes, you missed bubble-and-squeak: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_and_squeak

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    3. I'm still eating my Thanksgiving 2009 leftovers. Is that a problem?