Thanksgiving day is over. You’ve got a sink full of dishes, a fridge full of leftovers, and a house full of hungry relatives—it’s time to think on your feet.
For weeks, the blogs have been churning out Thanksgiving recipes, but what good does that do now that Thankgiving’s over? You certainly don’t feel like spending another day cooking in the kitchen, so let’s work with what you got: turkey.
This week, I reached out to some of the best chefs across the Southeast, and I picked their brains for the best leftover turkey ideas. It’s always good to ask to a professional.
Andrew Evans, Owner and Executive Chef of The BBQ Joint in Easton, MD, says that melted cheese makes everything better. Therefore, his go-to for leftovers is a classic turkey melt. Andrew recommends crafting a turkey melt with two slices of grilled rye, creamy brie, sweet cranberry relish and a little moist stuffing. “With that, you’ve got yourself the best day-after goodness in town,” he said. I can’t disagree.
Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef at Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group in New Orleans, recommends transforming leftovers into a little Louisiana-style turkey gumbo. “I love Thanksgiving, not because of the dinner, but because it’s the one time of the year I can make Turkey Gumbo,” she said. Bittermann recommends combining the moist turkey meat and spicy Andouille sausage to bring out the most robust flavor. The key to the flavor, she says, is the stock from the turkey bones. According to her, it’s the best gumbo she’ll make all year.
Chris Clime, Chef de Cuisine, of PassionFish in Reston, VA, introduced me to the idea of “stuffing patties.” Chris says his trick is to reheat the stuffing by frying. “I slice the turkey really thin, and reheat it in the gravy. Then I take the cold stuffing, form them into thin patties, and fry them with a little turkey skin until they’re crispy,” he said. Next, he takes all the components and assembles them on French bread along with big dollops of cranberry chutney and Coleman’s Mustard Aioli. Don’t forget to reserve extra gravy for dipping!
Chris Jakubiec, Executive Chef, Plume at The Jefferson in Washington, DC, says the day after Thanksgiving is prime time for a little Mexican fiesta. “Thanksgiving may be all-American,” Chris told me, “but the next day it calls for turkey burritos!” Chris says he cannot get enough of Mexican cuisine, and the family goes along with it. Anything can go in a burrito—all you have to have is the right combination. Chris recommends throwing in a little corn and onions to make it Turkey Day all over again. “Buen provecho!”
Brant Tesky, Chef de Cuisine, Acadiana in Washington, DC, threw out a breakfast idea I found to be pretty genius. The key to bringing that beautiful turkey back to all its glory, he said, is a little creativity. Brant recommends grinding up the turkey and pan sautéing with diced potatoes and veggies to make a turkey hash in the morning. “Serve that with runny poached eggs and a little gravy on top,” he said. “It’s a breakfast that’s tough to have once a year.”
Jeff Tunks, Owner and Chef, Passion Food Hospitality in the Washington, DC area shared a special family recipe: Grandma’s Carcass Soup. The name says it all. Take your extra turkey meat, simmer it in chicken stock, add diced mirepoix ( a combo of celery, carrots, and onions), fresh herbs and finish it off with cooked rice. “The recipe belongs to Grandma, but not the Thanksgiving turkey, so keep that to yourself,” Jeff said.
I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration for those leftovers.
I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez.