Turkey soup: yes. Delicious, and a hard-won staple after hours spent in an overheated kitchen. But what if you want to get beyond soup and sandwiches when it comes to using your Thanksgiving leftovers? We asked various chefs for creative ways to trot out the day-after turkey (with a few sandwich and soup suggestions, too).
2. “We usually find that we are recovering from a food coma and have little or no interest in leftover turkey,” states Michael LaScola of American Seasons in Boston. “What I like to do at home is roasted turkey with orecchiette pasta, fall vegetables, and Parmesan with cranberry mostarda crostini.
“Combine leftover shredded or diced turkey with diced cooked fall veggies (such as fresh brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pearl onions, carrots, onions, or celery), and place in a bowl with some cooked orecchiette pasta. Pour some hot turkey stock (made from the turkey carcass) over everything and sprinkle in some Parmesan cheese with a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. To accompany it, we make crostini [by toasting] leftover bread or rolls. Then mix some leftover cranberry sauce with a little Dijon mustard and spread it on top.”
3. “It’s always good to make a broth,” says Josiah Citrin, chef at Mélisse in Santa Monica, California. “You can reduce it down for sauces … then you could make a nice turkey salad, with winter-style greens. Do some candied walnuts, and if you have leftover cranberry sauce, make vinaigrette out of the cranberry sauce: Mix vinegar, oil, and a little bit of water to make vinaigrette. Toss the turkey in there.”
4. Executive chef Tom Berry of Temple Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, makes pan-fried turkey croquettes with cranberry arugula. It’s his way of using all the leftovers from Thanksgiving, he says, without resorting to stuffing them between two slices of bread.
Mix together 1 cup shredded turkey, 1 cup leftover stuffing, 1/2 cup leftover thick gravy, 1 egg, 1 ounce shredded Parmesan cheese, and, if you want, a pinch of chopped herbs (try some parsley with a sage leaf and a sprig of thyme). Season this mixture well with salt and pepper. If it seems a little wet, add a few pinches of breadcrumbs (Tom uses panko Japanese crumbs). Shape into cakes about 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly coat the cakes with breadcrumbs and pan-fry in a mixture of olive oil and butter over medium heat until golden brown. Whisk 1/4 cup cranberry sauce together with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve the cakes hot over some arugula and a drizzle of the cranberry “vinaigrette.”
5. “One thing my family’s done for a long time is turkey chowder,” says Brad Phillips from Saltaus in Chicago. First, take the turkey carcass and make a stock. Pick off leftover meat and combine it with some potatoes, corn, sage, a little savory, and some extra shredded turkey meat. Sometimes he adds in leftover crusty bread for a takeoff on the Tuscan bread soup, ribolitta.
6. Cookbook author and editor Roy Finamore does a riff on meatballs for turkey soup. He notes that he’d do this only if he had roasted the turkey. (“There’s no point in trying to make stock from fried turkey,” he says.) It’s straightforward and delicious: soften breadcrumbs in buttermilk, and mix with turkey (chopped finely in the food processor), grated pecorino cheese, egg, crushed red pepper, parsley, salt, and pepper. Roll into little balls about a heaping teaspoon in size, and cook in simmering turkey broth.
7. Colin Alevras, chef and co-owner of The Tasting Room in New York, eschews the fancy stuff. “What’s wrong with a turkey sandwich? Another chef I know says that his ultimate judgment on whether something’s actually good or not is: Well, would it make a good sandwich tomorrow? The sandwich has got to have everything left over from dinner in it. It’s gotta have stuffing, it’s gotta have some gravy … mashed potatoes don’t really make it on the sandwich, but Brussels sprouts would make it on. Then, mustard—gotta have a lot of mustard with turkey. I would be the guy who says just eat it cold—why worry about it?”
8. Colin should hang out with Anthony Strong of San Francisco’s Pizzeria Delfina. He says, “Thinking about this has inspired me: Instead of cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, I’m going to cook up the whole meal the day before, and then serve turkey sandwiches on Thanksgiving day. My ideal turkey sandwich is simple: turkey—preferably the dark meat; stuffing; cranberry sauce; and mayo. All on really plain white bread, a Pullman loaf or something.”
9. In Luis Castro’s home kitchen—he’s chef at Spanish Kitchen in Los Angeles—the next day is for traditional mole amarillo (yellow mole) enchiladas. “These are great because you can use the turkey and the stuffing in the enchiladas. It’s basically simmered tortillas filled with turkey; put as much sauce as you can on them, some cheese on top, put in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, and they’re done!” For another enchilada variation, swap the chicken out for turkey in our Neo-Enchiladas Suizas.
10. And from the CHOW kitchen, Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.