Thanksgiving is here, and we’re all planning epic dinners for our family and friends. From turkey and stuffing to mashed potatoes with gravy and a variety of pies, there’ll be a lot of food. That means there’ll also be leftovers.
We can keep on eating plates of turkey dinner for days after Thanksgiving, but it can also be very fun to take those various leftovers and turn them into entirely new dishes. No one knows how to do this better than celebrity chefs, and they have some delicious ideas for enjoying those turkey and sides leftovers for days to come.
A leftovers sandwich is classic for a reason, and can be enjoyed in so many ways. “A sandwich, always! I know it’s been done before, but it’s the best way to enjoy all the Thanksgiving leftovers at once, and the flavors really do compliment each other perfectly. I use fig jam in place of cranberry sauce, and instead of gravy, I include my Edy’s Grocer hummus or sometimes Greek Yogurt for a Lebanese touch,” said Chef Edy Massih.
Fried rice is also a delicious possibility. “I love leftover turkey fried rice… I often smoke my turkey, or sometimes just smoke turkey legs, and the leftovers make the absolute best fried rice and completely transform leftover turkey into a different meal. I add some diced up leftover green beans as well, since I generally do the beans cold as a salad anyway and don’t need to worry about them being overcooked. Throw in some chestnuts or roasted carrots for extra credit,” said Chef Brooke Williamson.
Biscuits and Gravy
Make biscuits dough ahead of time and freeze. “The morning after thanksgiving, bake off the biscuits and serve with leftover gravy and cranberry sauce for breakfast. It will keep the party going for everyone celebrating with you. Wrapped well, biscuit dough lasts for at least a month in the freezer, so it’s something you don’t have to stress about when thinking about getting all the food ready for the holiday,” said Alon Shaya, chef-partner, Pomegranate Hospitality .
Leftover turkey can sometimes feel pretty unexciting, but not when you add a ton of flavor. “Make turkey tinga and serve it up on store-bought tostadas—this is a great and flavorful way to use up your leftovers. Stew shredded turkey in a mix of sautéed onion, garlic, canned chipotles, and canned tomatoes, then top the tostadas with crema, crumbled cotija cheese, and shredded iceberg lettuce,” said Ana Castro, Executive Chef of Lengua Madre in New Orlean.
Plan a leftover brunch. “I love to re-create dishes with holiday leftovers. One of my favorite things my family absolutely loves is when I make my Holiday stuffing waffles for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving from leftover stuffing,” said HUNGRY VX Chef Tregaye Fraser.
Freeze For Later
Leftovers can always be tossed in the freezer and be enjoyed later. “My best advice for Thanksgiving leftovers is to not rush to use them right away. You can freeze turkey, dressing, collard greens and macaroni and cheese! That way you can repurpose them much later…even for Christmas and New Years!” said Chef Lisa Brooks of Charlotte, North Carolina.
These leftovers can be used in tons of ways. “You can make a great Turkey Pot Pie for a quick weeknight meal, a Collard Green Quiche for New Year’s Day brunch, or fried macaroni and cheese balls for a holiday appetizer! The possibilities are endless!” said Brooks.
Brooks says it is best to freeze in freezer-safe Ziploc bags that you label and lay flat so that there’s no air in them. “This protects the quality, and also they stack nicely in the freezer,” says Brooks.
“My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. There is nothing I love more than spending time with our family and cooking all day. The best thing about Thanksgiving is that there is always left overs. I like to take my Turkey leftovers, shred them and mix them with stuffing and add a little bit of dried cranberries. Then, I take some puff pastry, cut them into squares or circles, add some of the mix and make them into pastelitos. To top it off, I glaze my turkey pastelitos with honey or maple syrup. Yummm! This is the perfect way to reinvent the way we eat Thanksgiving leftovers,” said Chef Cesar Zapata of MiMo’s Michelin Bib Gourmand Viet-Latin restaurant and bar, Phuc Yea.
Don’t forget dessert! “For a leftover sweet treat, I like to chop up a slice of Mountain Rose Apple Pie, which is baked with house-made pie dough, almost 2 pounds of Mountain Rose apples, and topped with oatmeal streusel and mix it into a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream then add a drizzle of caramel sauce. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll candy some of the leftover nuts and mix those in for some crunch, and top with some whipped cream,” said Celebrity Pastry Chef, Rebecca Masson, of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston, Texas.