By Lisa Golden Schroeder
You are very lucky indeed if your fridge is full today—your hard earned reward for hours of cooking or hosting the big day. When up to your elbows sautéing, roasting, and baking in a steamy kitchen, it’s hard to imagine feeling grateful for a collection of covered containers—that were hopefully assembled and refrigerated within 2 hours of the feast, good stewards of food safety that I know you are. It’s a no-brainer to make next day sandwiches brimming with a dab of everything in the fridge (ask my brother, who’s made Thanksgiving Dagwood ‘wiches a high art, one that he’s teaching his own son). Or my general strategy of making Day 2 a work-free zone, with plates of leftovers reheated in the microwave at suppertime.
But I also like to think of my lingering garlic mashed potatoes, gelatinous gravy enriched with red wine, and foil-wrapped stacks of carved turkey as a fragrant pantry of meal starters. Recovery for an addicted cook: figuring out cool ways to transform those leftovers into mini-meals that will lure even the most holiday-jaded palates back to the table. What to do?
- Have a mixture of sliced turkey breast and bits of dark thigh and drumstick meat, maybe a colorful mélange of roasted veggies? Make breakfast hash. Chop a large onion and clove of garlic; sauté in olive oil until tender. Chop the turkey and veggies and toss with the onions and garlic. Top with a fried egg and a dash of hot sauce (or hot gravy).
- Garlic or buttermilk mashed potatoes? Make luscious potato pancakes (my mom’s specialty, worth making extra potatoes for…) Pat large spoonfuls of potato into 3 to 4 inch patties, then gently cook in butter until golden brown and crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside—irresistible.
- Chunky cranberry sauce? I like to stir it into a skillet of sautéed sliced apples or pears, just right to serve with those potato pancakes or to top a fragrant stack of pancakes or waffles after Black Friday shopping. A dollop of plain Greek yogurt and squeeze of fresh orange juice is tart and refreshing.
- Conjure up a big one-pot meal to take you through the rest of the weekend. Turkey soup with potato gnocchi (Italian for dumplings—just mix some mashed potatoes with a bit of flour, seasoning and maybe an egg—drop little spoonfuls into the hot soup), roasted veggie shepherd’s pot pie (a nice casserole filled with creamy veggies, turkey or ham—topped with mashed regular or sweet potatoes), or simmer up a pasta sauce with chopped meat + chopped canned Italian-seasoned tomatoes and dried fennel or rosemary. Cook up a batch of whole-grain penne or fusilli pasta that can be reheated, one plate at a time, doused with sauce and tossed with pungent Romano or Asiago cheese. You’d be surprised how good chopped roasted Brussels sprouts or chunks of butternut squash are teamed up with hot cooked noodles!
No matter what you’ve got stashed in your fridge today, just be sure that anything pulled out isn’t forgotten on the counter once sandwiches are made…and enjoy the bounty!