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Culinarily Curious: 3 ways to turn your Turkey Day feast into tasty leftovers

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 28, 2011 06:03 PM

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pilgrim sandwich thanksgiving leftovers.jpgBy Anthony Howard

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I'm sure there are still some leftovers packed away in your fridge, just begging to be eaten. If your family is anything like mine, you over-anticipate the size of people’s stomachs, prepare enough turkey to feed a small army, and, despite giving away doggie bags to all your guests, still have tons of food.

No matter -- I personally think Thanksgiving leftovers are better than the actual meal! Here are my suggestions for using up all those Tupperware containers of cranberry sauce, stuffing, and the rest of your Turkey Day fixings.

Remember last week's column? If you didn’t already make a stock, now would be the time to do it; those turkey bones should not just be thrown away. The process is exactly the same as chicken stock: Rough chop mirepoix, place turkey bones over mirepoix in large pot, let it boil over high heat, turn it down to a simmer, blah blah blah. Depending on the size of your turkey, you can get a lot of really nice, flavorful stock from the bones.

Make an awesome sandwich. If you've never had a pilgrim sandwich before, you're missing out. It's simply delicious, and it's easy to make: You basically take most of those leftovers and layer them between thick slices of hearty bread. Get two slices of bread, and lather each piece wih a bit of gravy. Take a few slices of turkey breast, and place them on one piece of the bread. Grab some of that stuffing, and place a bit on top of the turkey. Finally, spoon some cranberry sauce over the stuffing -- and try not to instantly gobble down the whole thing. Seriously, I look forward to these more than I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner itself!

Turn everything into another meal. While the pilgrim sandwich is a great choice for lunch, you'll want something a little more filling when dinner comes. Luckily enough, you probably have all the ingredients for shepherd's pie; it takes a little bit longer to make than a sandwich, but most of the cooking's already done. Grease an 8x8 baking dish, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut up about 1 1/2 cups of turkey into cubes, layer it on the bottom of the baking dish, and sprinkle it with some salt and pepper. Now, pour a bit of your leftover gravy over the turkey, and spread about 2 cups of stuffing over that. Cut carrots into small slices, and layer them over the stuffing; place 3/4 cup of corn over the carrots. Top off the baking dish with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle the whole thing with a little more salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are brown, and serve hot.

Thanksgiving always reminds me how much I love turkey; chicken is good, but turkey is where it’s at. And if you're like me and can’t get enough, now is the time to stock up. Grocery stores are trying to get rid of their surplus, so chances are, you can get a whole turkey at a decent price. Get a small-ish turkey, stick it in your freezer, and when the dead of winter hits, pull it out for a body-and-soul-warming turkey dinner.

How do you like to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers?

'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.

Photo by Marshall Astor (Flickr)

About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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