According to an American Farm Bureau survey, in 2008, the average Thanksgiving meal for a party of 10 cost $44.61 [source: American Farm Bureau]. To get the most out of your Thanksgiving budget, don't toss the leftovers, reuse them. Instead of simply reheating your leftovers for a second Thanksgiving dinner, getting creative can turn your leftovers into new family favorites. In this article, we'll look at specific dishes from your Thanksgiving meal and show you how to pair them with other ingredients to make new and innovative dishes.
First, let's take a look at the bird.
The iconic centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, the turkey, is a versatile leftover. "It (turkey) has one of those blank canvases that enable it to be anything from Southwestern to the Italian to the Asian," said Sherrie Rosenblatt, spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation.
After indulging in the fattening gravy and extra whipping cream on your pumpkin pie, you might want to go with something a little healthier. Salads are a great way to get a few more vegetables into your diet. The Tropical Turkey Salad will give you protein and help you use up the rest of that leftover turkey.
Soup pairs well with a salad. Even though chicken is usually the traditional poultry for soups, turkey can be substituted in many of those recipes. Try using some of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey in your next soup, or give Creamy Turkey Soup a try. It's an easy slow cooker soup recipe perfect for a winter lunch or dinner. For a soup in about 20 minutes, Tomato and Turkey Soup with Pesto is packed with vegetables and uses your leftover turkey as well.
Next, let's look at a distinctive turkey sandwich to pair with your soup.
For a nontraditional turkey sandwich with your leftovers, try this Rueben Crostini recipe recommended by Sara Williams-Clark, chef-instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, St. Louis, and member of the American Culinary Federation [source: Williams-Clark].
- French baguette, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices
- Melted butter
- Thousand Island dressing
- Leftover cooked turkey slices, cut thin
- Sauerkraut, drained of liquid
- Swiss cheese, cut in thin slices
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Lay bread slices on cookie sheet.
- Lightly brush with melted butter.
- Add pepper and salt to taste.
- Bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit (176-degree Celsius) oven for 4 to 6 minutes, until slightly crispy.
- Remove from oven.
- Assemble by spreading a thin layer of Thousand Island dressing on each bread slice.
- Place a few slices of turkey breast on top.
- Spread with a thin layer of sauerkraut.
- Top with one slice of cheese, cut in half.
- Place under the broiler in your oven until the cheese has melted.
Cranberry Sauce -- Dips
Whether store-bought or homemade, cranberry sauce usually makes an appearance at Thanksgiving Day meals. When the party is over, that leftover cranberry sauce can be given new life in the form of a dip. Try blending cranberry sauce with butter for a tangy spread perfect for breads or bran muffins [source: Gates]. Another cranberry sauce dip is perfect with crackers or on a bagel. Simply blend chopped walnuts, cream cheese and cranberry sauce together [source: Gates]. You can also add other spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon for a different taste. For a sweet dip, mix the cranberry sauce with a whipped topping and cream cheese [source: Kraft Foods]. This dip is perfect to go with a fruit plate.
Cranberry Sauce -- Sauces
Cranberry sauce is also a great topper for many meat dishes. Use your extra cranberry sauce as a glaze for your next chicken or pork dish. Just mix the cranberry sauce with a little vinegar and glaze the chicken or pork [source: Gates]. Another twist on this idea is to use the cranberry sauce and vinegar mixture in place of the ketchup you might use to top meatloaf. Along with a similar red color, the sauce will help to keep the meat moist and enhance the overall flavor of the dish [source: Gates].
Dressing/Stuffing -- Side
To reuse your leftover stuffing, Joseph Leonardi C.E.C., executive chef at Somerset Club in Boston and member of the American Culinary Federation, recommends this recipe for Fried Bread Sticks [source: Leonardi].
- Mix the cheese with the stuffing. Separate into 2 ounce servings and shape into sticks.
- Place sticks in the freezer.
- Place the flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), eggs and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls.
- Dip each stick into the flour bowl, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs. Re-dip the sticks into the eggs and breadcrumbs. Freeze the sticks.
- Heat the frying oil in a pot to approximately 350 degrees.
- Remove the sticks from the freezer. Fry them in the oil until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top with turkey gravy or cranberry sauce.
Potatoes as the Meal
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat about 130 pounds (59 kilograms) of potatoes each year [source: U.S. Department of Agriculture]. It's no surprise that many people enjoy potatoes on Thanksgiving Day as well as throughout the year. Mashed potatoes are usually used as a side, but when reusing leftovers, you can camouflage those mashed potatoes by incorporating them into a main entrée. Check out this recipe for Shepherd's Pie. Just substitute your leftovers for the instant mashed potatoes in the recipe.
Potatoes as the Appetizer
Leftover baked potatoes can also act as appetizers. Twice-baked potatoes are a great option for lots of leftover potatoes. Meredith Myers, manager for public relations at the U.S. Potato Board, recommends this recipe for spicy skins [source: Myers].
- Slice off about one-fourth of the top of a baked potato.
- Scoop out the inside of the potatoes and mash them with equal parts milk and plain yogurt.
- Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Sautee chopped onions and green peppers in a pan until tender.
- Add a few red pepper flakes for spice.
- Combine the mashed potato mixture and the sautéed ingredients.
- Add in a few bites of leftover turkey and a can of green chilies.
- Stuff the potato skins with the mixture.
- Top with a Mexican-cheese blend.
- Bake filled skins at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes.
Potatoes for Breakfast
Serve your leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast after Thanksgiving Day with Williams-Clark's Breakfast Potato Cakes recipe [source: Williams-Clark].
- Mix together the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Form cakes, resembling crab cakes, from the mixture.
- Dip cakes into a bowl filled with the cornmeal. Coat both sides of each cake.
- Brown potato cakes in a vegetable oil-greased pan on medium heat.
- Place cakes on cookie sheet pan.
- Bake cakes in a 350-degree Fahrenheit (176-degree Celsius) oven for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.
Pumpkin Pie -- Dessert
While most people probably won't have leftover pumpkin pie for long, to add a flavor kick to this dessert, Megan Ketover C.P.C, pastry chef/adjunct professor at Bakery Hill at Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati and a member of the American Culinary Federation, recommends a Bourbon Whiskey Caramel Sauce with Toasted Pecans [source: Ketover].
- Combine sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat, until sugar dissolves.
- Brush down sides of saucepan with pastry brush dipped in water to push down any undissolved sugar crystals.
- Cook sauce until it turns a golden-amber color.
- Stir in heavy cream. (The sauce will bubble up in the pan.)
- After cream absorbs into sauce, remove from heat.
- Stir in vanilla, salt, bourbon whiskey and cinnamon.
- Drizzle warm sauce over the pie. Top with toasted pecans.
If you're planning on deep-frying your turkey for Thanksgiving, HowStuffWorks Now recommends reading this first.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Farm Bureau. "Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Still Affordable." November 13, 2008. (August 25, 2009)http://www.fb.org/index.php?fuseaction=newsroom.newsfocus&year=2008&file=nr1113.html
- The Cranberry Institute. "Frequently Asked Questions." (August 24, 2009)http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/cranfacts/faq.htm
- Feller, Ben. The Seattle Times. "Bush pardons Thanksgiving Turkey after Barney put 'Flyer' to flight." November 23, 2006.http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003444313_pardon23.html
- Gates, Dawn. Communication manager for the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association and fourth generation cranberry grower. Personal interview. August 26, 2009.
- Jamieson, Saralee. Silver Threads. "Pumpkin Facts." November/December 2007. (August 27, 2009)http://extension.missouri.edu/silverthreads/2007%20articles/pumpkin%20facts.htm
- Ketover, Megan. C.P.C, pastry chef/adjunct professor at Bakery Hill at Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati and a member of the American Culinary Federation. Personal correspondence. August 27, 2009.
- Kraft Foods. "Festive Cranberry Dip for Fresh Fruit." (August 26, 2009)http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/festive-cranberry-dip-for-89998.aspx
- Leonardi, Joseph. C.E.C., executive chef at Somerset Club in Boston and member of the American Culinary Federation. Personal correspondence. August 27, 2009.
- Myers, Meredith. Manager of public relations for the United States Potato Board. Personal interview and correspondence. August 25, 2009.
- National Turkey Federation. "NTF Chairman Celebrates 60thAnniversary of Presenting the U.S. President with the National Thanksgiving Turkey." November 20, 2007. (August 26, 2009)http://www.eatturkey.com/news/news_print.cgi/151/1
- Ore-Ida. "Ore-Ida Fun Zone: Fun Facts." (August 26, 2009)http://www.oreida.com/funzone.funfacts.aspx
- The Portland Tribune. "Thanksgiving Day dinner stays 'affordable'" November 13, 2008. (September 3, 2009).http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=122660603802570700
- Rosenblatt, Sherrie. Spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation. Personal interview. August 25, 2009.
- University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station. "How Cranberries Grow." (August 26, 2009)http://www.umass.edu/cranberry/cranberry/seasons/shtml
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. "Briefing Rooms: Potatoes." July 31, 2009. (August 24, 2009)http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Potatoes/
- Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association. "Pumpkin Facts." (August 27, 2009)http://www.pumpkinva.org/index.php?slug=pumpkin-facts
- Washington State Potato Commission. "Fun Fact and Trivia." (August 26, 2009)http://www.potatoes.com/FunFactsandTrivia.cfm
- Williams-Clark, Sara. Chef-instructor at Le Cordon Bleu St. Louis and member of the American Culinary Federation. Personal correspondence. August 27, 2009.