Thanksgiving Leftovers: What Would Chefs Do?

Photo: Danielle Berman

We’ll spare you the advice on what to cook for Thanksgiving. Every book, TV show, and magazine in America is telling you how to make the BEST TURKEY EVER. Fine. Besides, by now you’ve no doubt shopped for Thanksgiving and know exactly what you’ll be cooking (or having cooked for you) on Thursday — but have you given any thought to what you’ll be eating on Friday? Call us crazy, but we’ve never been big fans of the leftover sandwich. It just seems so … pedestrian. That’s why we asked our favorite chefs around the country what they’ll be doing with their leftovers. And they came through for us! Things like cranberry sangria, super-simple turkey-and-biscuit cobbler, Japanese mashed-potato soup, duck-fat turkey hash: We fully plan on stealing all of these ideas and wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same. Read on for all of the recs!

Jasper White: Summer Shack; Towne, Boston
Turkey Cobbler

“Dice the turkey; chop up the leftover veggies/mushrooms/green bean casserole/whatever; spread in some mashed potatoes, scoop in some stuffing, sprinkle your favorite biscuit dough on top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until it’s bubbling.”

Dana Benigno: Sweet Girl, Chicago
Stuffing Benedict

“Form the stuffing into a cake and sauté it in a little fat until it has a delicious golden-brown crust. Then put two poached eggs over the top of it. Add a bit of Hollandaise sauce if you are still indulging. Take the leftover sweet potatoes and serve them sautéed for a breakfast side.”

Barbara Lynch: Menton; No. 9 Park; Etc., Boston
Japanese Leftover Pancakes

“Make packaged Japanese pancake mix, which can be purchased at Asian markets, according to the directions on the box. As soon as you pour it into the skillet, add an equal mix of leftover Thanksgiving vegetables, shredded raw carrots and kale, diced shrimp, scallions, a dash of sesame oil, and a pinch of cumin seeds. Cook the pancakes through and serve them with soy sauce.”

Jimmy Bradley: the Red Cat; the Harrison, New York
Spicy Swiss Potato Soup

“In a pan over low heat, take leftover mashed potatoes, add a little chicken stock, a little water, some milk and cream, some shredded Gruyère, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne — and it’s done. A little scallion garnish adds a bit of texture.”

Floyd Cardoz: Tabla, New York
Thanksgiving Frittata

Cardoz says that at his house, they take the leftover vegetables and beans, cut them up into small pieces, combine them with shredded leftover turkey, mix it all up with a couple of eggs, and put it in a pan on the stovetop with some parsley and salt and pepper. He lets it set in the pan, and then he bakes it through in the oven
(350 should work) for about ten minutes.

Masaharu Morimoto: Morimoto Napa, New York, Philadelphia
Japanese Mashed-Potato Soup

Heat the leftover mashed potatoes in a pan with butter and half-and-half, then ladle hot dashi (store-bought, or make your own with dashi kombu, water, and bonito flakes) over the soft mixture. Garnish with grated wasabi and chives.

Jordan Mackey: Cuvée, Napa
Autumn Sangria

“A good way to use extra homemade cranberry sauce is to make an autumn sangria. I like to add some of my Grand Marnier–infused cranberry relish to a good, inexpensive white wine, and throw in some chopped late-summer peaches [Mackey says he always has some in his freezer, but we bet you can sub berries, citrus, or anything else], some spiced rum, a little chopped tart green apple, and some spice-infused simple syrup. Serve it over crushed ice with some citrus and mint.”

Michael Schulson: Izakaya, Atlantic City; Sampan, Philadelphia
Stuffing Croutons

“I take the leftover stuffing and place it onto a sheet tray — pack it well (half-inch thick) and bake it at 375 for about 45 minutes. It will become like toast. Cut it into cubes and make a salad with the stuffing cubes and leftover turkey”

Jonathan Waxman: Barbuto, New York
Turkey-and-Cranberry Tacos

Waxman takes shredded leftover turkey meat and sautées it in a pan until it starts to get crispy. Then puts the meat into soft tortillas with with homemade guacamole, leftover cranberry sauce (he adds blood oranges and chilies to his) and shredded greens.

Anne Coll: Meritage, Philadelphia
Leftover Dumplings

“Get some dumpling or wonton wrappers, which you can buy at most supermarkets, and make dumplings with a mixture of your leftovers. Turkey, potatoes, and cranberries: Just stuff it all into a dumpling!”

Tony Gemignani: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana; Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza & Slice House, San Francisco
Sweet-Potato Pizza

“I’ll put anything on a pizza as long as the ingredients complement each other. The day after Thanksgiving is a pretty lazy day in my house, so I usually grab some dough from the fridge, top it with leftover sweet potatoes, mozzarella, pancetta, and a sprinkle of brown sugar, feta, and rosemary. If there’s any turkey left, I chop it up and throw it on there, too. Cook at 500 degrees for about eight minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.”

Tony Maws: Craigie on Main, Cambridge
Two-Pan Hash-Killer Brunch

“Coat a cast-iron skillet with the fat of your choice (preferably duck fat). Add the heartiest leftovers first (yams, Brussels sprouts, creamed onions, etc.) and cook them over high heat until they caramelize a little. Add the turkey meat, and throw in some leftover thyme and sage. Heat up your gravy in a separate pan and pour it on the hash. Fry up some eggs and plop them on top. It takes ten to fifteen minutes, max.”

Marc Murphy: Landmarc, New York
Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

Murphy recommends taking the leftover turkey, dicing it up, and folding in leftover stuffing that has been moistened with turkey or chicken stock and butter. Then he covers it with leftover mashed potatoes, sprinkles Gruyère cheese on top, covers it with foil, and bakes it for an hour at 350. Then take the foil off and put it back in the oven for fifteen minutes to brown the top.

Matt Levin: Adsum, Philadelphia
Leftover Hash With Stuffing Cakes

“The next morning, it’s all about dark meat. I mix it with my leftover roasted sweet potato and fry it in butter to make turkey hash. I press the leftover stuffing into a ring mold and then brown the rounds like little Johnny cakes. Top that all with fried eggs and reheated gravy. Ahh! Then I’m super-non-motivated to go back to work, but it’s so worth it.”

Kerry Heffernan: South Gate, New York
Cranberry Granite

“Purée leftover cranberry sauce, add sugar and orange rind, and continue blending until smooth. Then place the mixture in a small shallow pan and freeze. Finally, “scratch” the frozen cranberry mixture with a fork to create the granite — almost like shaved ice.”

Thanksgiving Leftovers: What Would Chefs Do?