real life test kitchen: leftover love


I cooked a 27lb. turkey this Thanksgiving. No, that’s not a typo, it really was a full 27lbs. On top of that I made an 8lb. brisket, a sweet potato casserole, a spinach soufflé, a boatload of roasted potatoes, 2 dozen pumpkin nutmeg rolls, applesauce, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, pecan pie, apple crisp, pumpkin whoopee pies and so on and so on and so on. Needless to say, we have quite a bit of leftover food packed in the fridge. Friday and Saturday we were all happy to pile up a plate of leftovers and enjoy them as is, but now it’s time to get creative.

For breakfast tomorrow everyone’s enjoying omelets filled with cheesy spinach soufflé. I’ll chop up my roasted potatoes and throw them in a skillet with green onions and some random leftover veggies from my crudités plate for a tasty vegetable hash on the side.

For lunch I’ll whip up an easy turkey salad. I’ll combine shredded white and dark meat turkey with a bit of mayo, some good Dijon mustard and a handful of chopped pecans. I’ll serve up a scoop over a bed of shredded Brussels sprouts.

Dinner will be a simple open-face brisket sandwich. Instead of bread I’ll cook up some tasty stuffing cakes by shaping the stuffing into thin patties and pan-frying them in a bit of olive oil or butter. (If your stuffing is dry and won’t form into patties, mix in a beaten egg or moisten with a bit of chicken stock.)

These ideas should get me through the next day or so, but does anyone have any creative leftover dishes they’d be willing to share?
Erica P.

From our partners

We always make very simple turkey soup. Turkey broth plus shredded turkey, tomato juice, seasoned salt, and whatever veggies you want. I just added potatoes and corn this year. So good. This year, my boyfriend made potato pancakes with the leftover mashed potatoes.

MMMMMMM…all your ideas for leftovers (and your originals) as well as shannon’s ideas sound SOOOOO good that I am jealous all the leftovers are at my mom’s in connecticut. maybe I can just help you eat your left overs! ;) do you mind me asking how many people you had over to enjoy your feast that seems like it could feed the town?

Angela M.

Soup is my favorite, too! Angela M says:
I love making turkey soup the next day with the leftovers! I love to make a big batch, then freeze it and be happily reminded of the holiday all winter long. Here’s a quick how-to: Simmer bones and all that’s left in the bird in a pot of water (start off cold) for an hour and half. Add chopped veggies, like an anise bulb, onion, celery, green beans, whatever floats your boat. Also, a small can of chopped tomatoes. Cook for another half hour, skimming off the top if it looks fatty. Drain the veggies from the broth, let them cool down a bit and put them in the food processor. Chop ‘em down real small and then add back to broth. Put in macaroni — I use orzo — and turn up the heat a bit (if it’s too low it will get starchy). Add a little chicken broth if you’d like it be more soupy. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. In February you’ll be so glad you did this!

Erica P.

We had 14 people…. and food for at least 25. It was a bit excessive, but everything was so good we were happy to have plenty of leftovers. Most of it has been devoured by now and some has made its way to the freezer (the pumpkin nutmeg rolls freeze wonderfully and reheat in just a few minutes so I often make a double batch just for that reason) I do think next year we’ll aim for a 20lb. turkey instead.

Make a turkey tetrazzini and put it in the freezer for later.

Stock, of course the next day. It freezes so well and is always handy. Last night I made a gravy out of leftover schmaltz (from Rosh Hashonah chicken soup) and onions and chicken stock, and diced up the turkey and let it simmer in that until heated. That over leftover mashed potatoes was perfect for the cold weather we had last night. Also, took the carrots and heated them in a saucepan with a tablespoon of butter and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Have you ever tried making muffins out of leftover stuffing? just press them into muffin cups and bake for 10-15 minutes. you can mix in whatever veggies (pureed works well) or tuck in some chopped turkey into the center. They’re fantastic heated with some cranberry sauce on the side


Turkey a la king is good. Warm leftover turkey meat in a white sauce (either milk based or stock based). A stock based white sauce is what I grew up with, but I’m sure milk based would work. Season the sauce appropriately… garlic if you like garlic, or nutmeg, or clove, or pepper… Make sure there’s a bit more zing than just the roux and the liquid.

Very nice as it’s unlikely to terrorize small children, even ones in the picky stage.