All photos/art by Francine Zaslow
At our house, we do a pretty traditional Thanksgiving: turkey and all the trimmings. We watch the big parade and football games with snacks and cocktails; then comes the feast, followed by a walk; then cleanup, pie, and finally a classic movie. I love the meal, and it’s always delicious, but truth be told, it’s the leftovers that really get me excited.
For me, the meal is more about ritual and tradition, the people with whom I’m sharing it, and the connections we’re making. My sister Sarah and I agree: The effort that goes into the cooking is all about the sandwich the next day–whole wheat bread (lightly toasted, thank you), sliced turkey meat, a bit of mayonnaise, some cranberry sauce, a little cheddar cheese, some lettuce, and a smear of stuffing, with some potato chips layered right into the sandwich. One year, a cousin (whose name I won’t mention here) ate the leftover stuffing for breakfast. All of it. Frankly, the holiday weekend was all but ruined (and we spurned her company …). We learned: We make extra stuffing, and we come up with alternatives for the leftovers.
The sandwich is a perennial favorite, as are turkey tetrazzini, turkey hash, turkey soup, and simple sliced turkey with warm gravy. Last year, though, we wanted to push the boundaries a bit, but with yummy foods that didn’t feel like second thoughts or scraped together. We weren’t exactly hankering for another day in the kitchen, either, so the suggestions presented here are pretty quick and easy. (Here’s a timesaving tip: Include the ingredients you’ll need for these leftover recipes when you do your big market run.) Use your own standard holiday-table dishes as the starting point, or check out the Turkey Day recipes on our Web site.
These recipes are all great for feeding crowds, by the way. If you don’t have company, consider a “day after” dinner party for neighbors with full houses. Many of these ingredients and dishes–mashed potatoes, squash, creamed onions, and the potato bread, for instance–freeze well, so you can also save them that way and make these recipes another time.