the best part of thanksgiving: leftovers
25 November 2011

Like many Americans, I spent all day yesterday cooking up a Thanksgiving feast. My menu included a kale-citrus salad, apple cider brined turkey, gravy, mac and cheese, stuffing, homemade parker house rolls, mashed sweet potatoes and an apple and pear crisp.

I’m the kind of person who plans on leftovers, incorporating them into my initial menu portion — they are my favorite part. Nothing is better than stuffing and gravy the next day, when all of the work is done and you can sit back and watch movies (or go shopping if you are a ‘Black Friday’ aficionado). This year I decided to share a classic and a new spin on leftovers.

Every morning after Thanksgiving, I’m always a bit lithargic from the massive amounts of food eaten the day before and from standing and cooking in a kitchen all day. While I love leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, in the morning I crave something a little less salty. My new idea this year (since it’s my first year with mashed sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed potatoes) for a morning treat is sweet potato pancakes.

Using my leftover creamy mashed sweet potatoes, I incorporated some flavors to enhance the ones already in the mashed potatoes (some cinnamon, maple and brown sugar) to make the perfect fall pancake. I also used a blend of white and whole wheat flour in an attempt to make it a little bit healthier. Topped with maple syrup, a little pat of butter and some leftover spiced pecans (that I made on to nosh while cooking Thanksgiving yesterday), this pancake was fluffy, light, crispy on the outside and delicious.

The quintessential leftover meal is the turkey sandwich. My take on this classic tradition was an apple, brie and turkey sandwich topped with a bit of fresh kale salad on a toasted roll, of course. I halved a homemade parker house roll, topped the bottom half with leftover turkey and brie, and put both halves in the toaster oven to get some texture on the bread and melt the brie. Once toasted, I layered fresh apples on top of the brie and topped it with some of my leftover kale salad that had been tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. I created a gravy-mayo, slathered it on the top part of the bun and, viola, the perfect sandwich. The apple imparted a bit of crunch and freshness, while the brie added creaminess. The kale gave a bit of much needed bright acidity and some texture (from the toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds in the salad). It was a perfect sandwich.

Of course, these are only two ideas for the many leftover dishes that can be made. Other great ideas are turkey chili, turkey pot pies, sweet potato soup, potato and turkey breakfast hash, fried mac and cheese bites, apple pie oatmeal, etc. The ideas are endless, just remember the rule of leftovers: do little work, relax and enjoy!

{thanksgiving leftovers: sweet potato pancakes & apple, brie and turkey sandwich}

Sweet Potato Pancakes: The amount of cinnamon and maple syrup might need to be altered depending on how much you have in your original mashed sweet potatoes, so be sure to season to taste!

{yield: 4-6 pancakes}

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg

Combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together the maple syrup, milk, mashed sweet potatoes and the egg.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (the batter will be thick). Be careful not to overmix.

Butter a saute pan and place over medium to medium-low heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of the pancake mixture into the pan and spread it out to form a circle. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes or until bubbles start forming on top and the edges start to set.

Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. Repeat for all pancakes.

Top pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

Apple, Brie & Turkey Sandwich: The kale salad really added a nice acidity to cut through the rich and creaminess of the brie and turkey. As a quick alternative, make a citrus vinaigrette and toss it with arugula or mixed greens. The gravy-mayo might seem a bit odd, but don’t be fooled; it adds a nice creaminess and hint of Thanksgiving to the sandwich.

{yield: 1 ‘leftovers’ sandwich}

  • 1 parker house roll (or desired bread), cut in half horizontally
  • 2 slices of leftover turkey
  • 2 slices of brie, without the rind
  • 1 slice of apple (1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/3 cup of kale salad
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon leftover gravy

On the bottom half of the roll, place turkey and then brie.

Place the roll with the turkey and brie, plus the top of the roll in the toaster oven and toast until cheese is melted.

Top brie with a layer of sliced apples.

Top the apple layer with the kale salad.

Whisk together the mayonnaise and gravy until smooth. Slather the mayo-gravy on the top of the bun and place on top of the sandwich.