Thanksgiving may be one day, but leftovers are forever. Not really, but you may feel that way when you open the fridge the following morning and see stacks of Tupperware containers chock-full of food you were worried wouldn’t be enough to feed everyone.
Forget the overwhelm — Thanksgiving leftovers are a feast for sore eyes. Some might consider them the best part of the whole holiday once the sore tummy has resolved. While heating and eating is perfectly acceptable, leftovers are also an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen during what’s hopefully a long weekend for you and yours.
However, prepping the meal itself may have drained the last of your creative juices. To get them flowing again, we asked local chefs what they do with their Thanksgiving leftovers.
Turkey and sweet potato hash
Breakfast (or brunch) may be the last thing on your mind after gobbling up your fourth serving of mashed potatoes. But this hash recipe will have you craving the most important meal of the day as you settle in for an afternoon of football and tryptophan-induced napping. It comes courtesy of Jason Weiner, the proprietor and executive chef at Almond, the spirited Bridgehampton French bistro.
Before life as a lauded chef invited to cook for James Beard multiple times, Weiner frequented diners, which he credits for inspiring this Turkey Day leftover recipe.
“I grew up going to diners, so I love hash, but I hate waste,” Weiner said. “And how many leftover turkey sandwiches can you eat?”
- 2 oz. clarified butter or canola oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 4 large baked sweet potatoes, cooled and diced
- ½ cup sage leaves
- 2 cups shredded turkey
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cranberry sauce (optional but recommended)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Sauté the onion with the butter or oil over medium heat using a large, oven-safe, non-stick skillet on medium heat.
- When there’s a bit of color on the onions in the skillet, add the potatoes and cook until they begin to get a bit crispy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and combine. Press the mixture down gently so it comes together as it cooks.
- Slide the pan into the oven and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Let it cool for a few minutes.
- Flip it onto a serving platter.
- Garnish it with a few fried sage leaves.
- Serve. Weiner likes to add poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, salad, or preferably all three.
Thanksgiving pot pie
Terry Harwood, who co-owns Vine Street Café on Shelter Island and Cove Hollow Tavern in East Hampton with his wife, Lisa, calls his Thanksgiving Pot Pie a “concept recipe,” meaning there’s room for swaps and alternatives. For instance, Harwood suggests using green beans, but perhaps you had Brussels sprouts instead. Anything goes.
“Get creative with your leftovers,” Harwood says.
Still, there is one fundamental rule: “It is essential to drizzle each layer with some leftover gravy to ensure a moist result, but the pie should be firm enough to slice after resting for an hour.”
Here’s how it’s done.
- Gravy (brown, white or vegan)
- Cranberry sauce
- Top and bottom crust (“Making the crust is always fun, but buying it is just fine,” Harwood said.)
- Mashed potatoes, warmed
- 1 ½ cups turkey, diced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Begin building the pie. Starting with the bottom crust, spread an even layer of slightly warmed mashed potatoes, about ¾ inch.
- Add about 1 ½ cups of diced turkey.
- Place the leftover peas or chopped green beans on top.
- Press on a layer of your favorite stuffing. “Mine is cornbread sausage stuffing,” Harwood shares.
- Check the final stuffing layer before putting the top crust on. Harwood says it should be “mounded like a dome above the rim of the pie pan by about an inch.”
- Press down slightly.
- Drizzle the gravy on one last time.
- Install the top crust by crimping the edges, cutting the vents, brushing with egg wash, and baking.
- Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating at the halfway point.
- The gravy should percolate from a golden-brown crust when finished.
The bacon gobbler
Pitmaster William Valentine of Townline BBQ in Sagaponack got the short end of the wishbone growing up. His family never left the Thanksgiving feast with leftovers.
“My cousins, on the other hand, had the leftovers at their house and would always brag about eating this sandwich the next day,” Valentine says. “Now that I am an adult, I can enjoy what they were having myself.”
Valentine now serves as Turkey Day host.
“I can’t imagine going out, so home is my favorite spot,” he says.
Valentine may not have had leftovers to share growing up, but now he’s spreading the word about the glorious next-day sandwich he sinks his teeth into.
- 2 slices potato bread (Valentine recommends Martin’s)
- 2 tablespoons leftover stuffing
- 4 slices of crispy bacon
- 4 oz. leftover turkey, sliced
- Cranberry dressing to smear
- Mayonnaise to smear
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay the bacon on a cookie sheet and place into the oven for 20 minutes or until crisp. Drain and set aside.
- Toast the bread (“Better yet, butter it and grill it,” Valentine said.)
- Smear the mayonnaise onto both sides of the toast.
- Smear on some of the cranberry
- Lay out the slices of turkey.
- Place bacon strips on top.
- Spoon on the stuffing.
- Cover it with the other side of the toast.
- Slice in half.