Leftovers: Thanksgiving’s Legacy

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When your holiday dinner is over, what’s left can be an exciting inspiration for several original meals. The VPR Table
offers a few ideas for how to re- energize your Thanksgiving leftovers.
This VPR program offers inspiration and
practical advice to all of us who prepare food and enjoy eating. What’s
your recipe strategy when you’re fridge is full of leftovers? Listen
Friday at 5:55pm during All Things Considered or Saturday at 8:55am
during Weekend Edition.


Think you’ve got too many Thanksgiving leftovers? Think

The replay of
Thanksgiving dinner – the turkey and all those trimmings – is possibly better
than the first time ‘round.  You are not
exhausted, or dealing with family dynamics, or worried about stains on the
tablecloth.  One of the beauties of
enjoying that second, reheated, Thanksgiving dinner, is that you are lounging
around in sweat pants and watching a rerun of "The Sound of Music."

But…then what?
After that satisfying meal, all the good stuff – gravy, stuffing, pie – is
gone. You are left with a few straggly green beans, a spoonful of cranberry
relish, and a very large carcass.   

If you are an
old-fashioned sort of cook, you will pick that carcass clean, chop up the meat,
whip up a white sauce, and produce turkey croquettes, pot pie, or turkey
Tetrazzini. If you are an old-fashioned sort of cook, whipping up a white sauce
is a snap.

If, however,
you just want to use up the turkey with a minimum of fuss, the turkey sandwich
is the way to go.  Chef Emeril Legasse
published a grilled turkey sandwich recipe perfectly adaptable to localvore
Vermonters: a layering of goat cheese, turkey and cheddar on sourdough bread.

If you are kind
of sick of turkey, and sated by the whole, heavy gravy, stuffing,
pie-with-whipped-cream experience, you may want to go for lighter fresher
flavors. Make a tortilla soup from turkey, cilantro and avocado, or one
inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asia- fish sauce, lemon grass and lime.

There’s a recipe for a complex fruit mole in "Daisy’s Holiday Cooking," by
Daisy Martinez, that is perfect for simmering with leftover turkey. Use the
turkey and mole a as a filling for tortillas, tacos or enchiladas.

And, while you
are munching, don’t forget to give thanks…for the leftovers.



The bread, goat cheese, garlic and Cheddar can all be
local…even the tomatoes, parsley and spinach if you buy from certain growers.

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 slices hearty white bread (such as sourdough)

6 ounces soft, mild goat cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 ounces spinach, thick stems removed if needed

8 thin slices tomato

8 to 10 ounces leftover roast turkey, sliced

4 ounces sliced sharp or extra sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat an oven
to 350 degrees and place the nuts in a baking pan. Roast until fragrant and
toasty, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside.       

In a toaster
oven or toaster, lightly toast the bread.

In a small
bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon garlic and the lemon zest.
Mix well and set side.

Heat the olive
oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the
mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until
they are soft, about 4 minutes. Move the mushrooms aside and add the spinach
and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the spinach has almost
completely wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and
cook for 30 seconds. Remove the contents of the pan and set aside, draining off
any extra liquid.

Position a rack
close to the broiler element and preheat he broiler.

Spread the goat
cheese mixture evenly over the bread. Sprinkle the walnuts on top. Add 2 slices
of tomato and divide the turkey evenly, arranging it over all. Divide the
mushroom-spinach mixture

Place the
sandwiches on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly,
about 1 minute. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Recipe adapted from "Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast," by
Emeril Lagasse (HarperStudio, 2009)



For topping:

canola or other vegetable oil, for trying

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into thin strips (aim for


For the soup:

6 cups turkey or chicken broth

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 or 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce (see note)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (14 to 19-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 cups shredded cooked turkey

salt to taste

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, cut into wedges

Make the topping:
Line a platter with paper towels and set it aside.  In a saucepan , heat about 3/4-inch of oil
over medium high heat until it registers 350 degrees on a fry thermometer,  or until the top looks wavy. Working in
batches, add about one quarter of the tortilla strips and fry until golden, 35
to 45 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the tortilla strips and drain
on the prepared platter. Immediately season to taste with salt. Repeat with
remaining strips, adjusting the heat as needed. 
Allow to cool, and use within 3 hours.

Make the soup:
In a large pot, bring the broth, garlic, chipotle(s) and pepper to a boil over
medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
Add the chickpeas, turkey, and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, peel
and  dice the avocado.

Ladle the soup
into heated bowls and garnish with the avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips.
Set a lime wedge on the side of the bowl and invite diners to squeeze it over
the soup.

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe adapted from "300 Sensational Soups," by Carla Snyder
and Meredith Deeds (Robert Rose, 2008)



This recipe is made for shrimp. Substitute shrimp for
turkey. Add the shrimp shells to the water and lemongrass tops when you first
bring the water to a boil.

3/4 to 1 pound shredded, cooked turkey

3 stalks lemongrass, green tops trimmed off and reserved,
white bulb pounded flat and cut into 1-inch lengths (see note)

1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, drained (see note)

5 lime leaves (see note) or zest of two limes

1 small tomato, cut into thin wedges

1 large green onion, thinly sliced

1 and 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup bottled fish sauce (see note)

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

chili oil, to taste (see note)

About 3 cups cooked white rice

In a medium
saucepan, cover the lemongrass tops with about 4 cups water. Bring to a boil
over high heat. Remove from heat, strain the broth and return to saucepan.
Discard lemon grass tops.

Add the
lemongrass pieces, straw mushrooms, lime leaves (or zest), and tomato to the
liquid in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 4
minutes. Add the turkey and simmer  until
heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the soup into a
serving bowl or soup tureen. Add scallion, bean sprouts, lime juice, black
pepper, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes. 
Spoon rice into bowls and serve soup over rice. Pass around a bottle of
chili oil.

Note: most of
the ingredients marked (with the exception of lime leaves) can be found in the
Asian aisle of the supermarket.  Asian
markets are, of course, an excellent source.

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe adapted  from
"The Simple Art of Vietnamese Cooking," by Binh Duong and Marcia
Kiesel (Prentice Hall Press, 1991).


Marialisa Calta is a nationally syndicated columnist, food editor and
cookbook author. For her latest book, "Barbarians at the Plate: Taming
and Feeding the Modern American Family" Marialisa traveled around the
country interviewing working parents about the whys and hows of getting
food on the table.



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