Using up those Thanksgiving leftovers

November 25, 2017

Best way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. Do this.

You have more than likely had all the turkey sandwiches you want by this time in the Thanksgiving weekend. (If not, go ‘head on. I am not the boss of you.)

Here, then are some ideas of what you can do with said turkey, and some of the other Thanksgiving leftovers, as well.

I’ll start out with non-turkey, since that’s the photo above. Anyone who’s read this blog very long knows of my love for the latke, and his first cousin, the potato pancake. My Mama used to make stewed potatoes, in a white sauce, regularly; I loved them, because I knew the next day or so would bring potato cakes. These are one of the highest and best uses of leftover mashed potatoes.

For four pancakes, take about a cup of mashed potatoes. Add an egg, and beat it into the cold potaotes, which will loosen them up and make a thinned batter. Add a couple tablespoons of flour; not much. Season to your taste, but my taste calls for a little garlic, a little onion (I used powder in both instances today, but I’d’a damn-sho used chopped green onions had I had them), salt and freshly ground pepper, chives, and some grated parmigiano cheese. It makes a stiff batter. I added a small splash of half and half, as my egg was small and thus my batter a little stiff.

Heat an iron or steel (shout-out to my Lodge carbon steel pans here, y’all!) pan over medium high heat until it’s smoking. Add vegetable or some other neutral oil, and then spoon in the batter in four equal fritters. Turn the heat down to medium, then LEAVE THEM ALONE until you can see the brown around the edges. If you try to flip them too quickly, you will tear them up and they will not be crispy on the outside. You want them a good shade or two or three past golden, and it’ll take you four minutes or so to get there, maybe more, depending on your stove.

Flip them and brown them to the same level on the other side. Drain on paper towels, move to a plate and top with apple butter that you have in the fridge because you made some with my recipe. If you didn’t make some with my recipe (see post entitled “Apple Butter, meet Instant Pot,” which is the most-read post I have ever written), it’s your own fault, and I am Not Sorry for you. But you can use applesauce, or even sour cream.

These are good with any kind of vaguely Central European meal — think brats and red cabbage or sauerkraut. But they’re also primo with bacon and eggs for brunch, which is how I had mine. And while I’d planned on scrambling some eggs, I decided instead to finish off the deviled ones. Egg is egg is egg, yes? Yes.

So, there’s one container gone out of the fridge, and one half-emptied. Thinking there’ll be red cabbage and brats sometime next week, so there’ll go the rest of the potatoes.

Hopefully, you broke down your turkey Thanksgiving afternoon or evening, before you refrigerated him, because not only will his decimated carcass dominate your refrigerator and crowd out everything else and reproach you every time you open the door, but he’s easier to break down before he’s cold. I cut the thighs and drumsticks and wings away from mine and stashed them in a gallon zip-lock, and then tackled the rest of the carcass. After I carved and picked off all the white meat I could, I took my big cleaver and whacked him in half midway between his neck and his tail, so he’d fit in the Instant Pot. I stuck him, along with a quartered onion, in there, covered him with water, and pressure-cooked him on high pressure for 120 minutes. Then, since I didn’t want to fool with him that night, I switched him over to slow cook and left him all night.

The next morning, I pulled out the steamer basket with the solids in it and set about reducing the stock. Froze that yesterday, and it will make some MARVELOUS dishes later on.

The dark meat will get made into turkey rillettes next week — cut off the bone, simmered in duck fat with some bay leaves and thyme and stock for a long time, then whizzed up in the food processor and enough fat added back into just make it nice and spreadable. I’ll can it in little four-ounce jars to add to Christmas gift baskets.

The white meat is still in the fridge in another gallon zip-lock. I need to portion it out today into about three meal-sized portions and vac-seal them to freeze. Among their many future potential uses:

  • Turkey spaghetti
  • Turkey enchiladas
  • Turkey hash
  • Turkey noodle casserole

Or anything else you’d do with cooked chicken. Of which I also have some in the fridge that needs to be vac-packed. And me just about out of freezer space.

Oh, and one other thing that can happen is it gets to reunite with its natural partner, the dressing, which is already reposing in the freezer. I just portioned it out into meal-sized containers and threw it in there. I’ll thaw it out when I’m ready, chop up the turkey or chicken and add it, then add some chicken or turkey broth to re-moisten the whole thing, move it to a baking dish and bake it. Quick and easy dinner, provided you’ve remembered to thaw the dressing.

Left-over sweet potatoes? Mash up about a cup and a half of them. If they have a praline pecan topping, like mine, so much the better. The nasty marshmallow topping might even work. Then take your favorite banana bread recipe and sub sweet potatoes for the bananas. I like to add a few more nuts, some more nutmeg and cloves. M’mm. I may make these tomorrow morning and take them to church.

Leftover carrots? I gave mine away. But you can puree them and make a nice, creamy carrot soup. Or chop them up and throw them in vegetable soup. Ditto green beans (the vegetable soup, as I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a creamy green bean soup, though I guess you could make it if you wanted to).

As for me…I think I’m going to top off my brunch with some cranberry salad for dessert. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em get busy planning a resurrection for those leftovers.


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