Weekend open thread: Thanksgiving leftovers

All best wishes to the Bleeding Heartland community for a happy and restful Thanksgiving weekend!

If you cooked at home today, you may have some food to use up. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, is famous for making soup from the turkey carcass. Here’s his mother’s soup recipe. I’ve posted some of my favorite ways to use leftovers below.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Leftover turkey

Turkey sandwiches are the easiest approach. If you don’t like sliced turkey with cranberry sauce, you could make turkey salad using any chicken salad recipe. I don’t like mayonnaise, so my favorite involves stirring small pieces of turkey or chicken into this mixture (all quantities approximate, depending on your taste): about a cup of full-fat, plain yogurt (Greek style works well), two tablespoons of mango chutney, 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder, some salt, a splash of vinegar, and a splash of lemon juice. You can mix in some currants or raisins if you like.

I usually make stock from the turkey carcass for later use. Some years I also make a soup using roasted vegetables from the turkey pan. Click here for that recipe.

My approach to turkey soup is similar to Michael Dukakis’s mother’s. I pick most of the turkey meat off the carcass and set aside. Break the carcass into pieces and put in a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover. You can make turkey stock just from the bones, but I like to add a large chopped onion, some chopped celery, a few chopped carrots, a few peeled garlic cloves, and some whole peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for several hours. Strain and discard the carcass and cooked vegetables. Return the stock to the pot, heat to a boil, add pieces of the leftover turkey, and whatever vegetables you like (peas and diced or sliced carrots work well). You can also add diced potatoes or some rice or small uncooked pasta to cook in the stock before serving.

Leftover mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes don’t reheat well in a microwave and can get dry when reheated in the oven. Some people use them in potato pancakes, but I don’t have the knack for getting those right.

It’s easy to make soup from mashed potatoes, though. A few options, depending on what else you have on hand:

1. Heat up vegetable or turkey stock, or water with bouillon cubes, in a saucepan. Stir in your leftover mashed potatoes to get the consistency you like. Probably the soup won’t need any extra milk or cream, but you may want to add salt or pepper.

2. Saute some chopped carrots with onions or leeks in oil or butter. After 5-10 minutes, add water to cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer until the carrots are soft (15-20 min), then puree in a blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and stir in your leftover mashed potatoes. You probably will need to add some water to thin it out. Many herbs would go well in a soup like this, but I like potato, carrot and leek soup with just a little salt and pepper.

3. If you have any kohlrabi, you can make this soup, which I adapted from the New Covent Garden Soup Company in the United Kingdom. Chop one large onion or two medium onions and saute in some butter or oil. Peel and chop one large or two medium kohlrabi, add to the onions, continue to saute for 5-10 minutes. Add enough water or stock to barely cover the vegetables. Bring to boil, stir, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. When the kohlrabi is cooked, let soup cool slightly and puree in a blender or food processor. Return to soup pot and stir in about a half-cup of plain unsweetened yogurt (or cream, as the original recipe called for). Also stir in 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in leftover mashed potatoes and add a little more stock or water if the soup is too thick for you.

Leftover sweet potatoes

I would just reheat them and add a little butter. But if you want something different, the New Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook has a wonderful recipe for South Indian Sweet Potatoes. I don’t use the green pepper, though. I would just heat a little oil in a pan, add one-half to 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, let most of them pop (they will turn gray), add 2-3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes, and stir in a little salt, ground cumin (about one-half teaspoon), and lemon juice.

Another option is making soup from leftover baked or mashed sweet potatoes. Boil some stock (or water with bouillon) and stir in the mashed sweet potatoes. Add cream, milk, yogurt or creme fraiche if desired. Some sweet potato soup recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg and a little maple syrup, but I like savory soups better. Try adding a little dried thyme to the sweet potato mixture.

Leftover bread or dinner rolls

Whatever you don’t use for sandwiches can be the base for a bread pudding, which I love in colder weather.

Here’s a savory approach (all quantities variable depending on how much bread you have): beat 2-4 eggs, beat in 1-2 cups of milk, stir in some salt and dried tarragon (maybe one-half to 1 teaspoon). Cut the stale bread or rolls into cubes. Stir into the egg mixture, along with one-half to 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss, gruyere all work well). If desired, saute a small chopped onion or leek in some butter and stir into the egg and bread mixture. Put in a casserole dish, dot with 1 tablespoon of butter cut into small pieces, and bake at 350 F, covered, for about 45 minutes–or longer if you made a large quantity. Take off the cover and bake for another 15 minutes or so.

For a sweet bread pudding, start with eggs and milk, but use a little less milk. Stir in one-half to 1 cup of cottage cheese. Stir in 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and some maple syrup or sugar (a quarter cup is fine, or use a little more if you like things very sweet). Stir in cubes of bread, with or without some diced apples and raisins. Bake as described above for the savory bread pudding.

Leftover cranberry sauce

It’s been several years since I’ve done this, but if you have more than a cup of cranberry sauce left, you can mix it with a couple of diced apples and pour it into a pie crust. (I use frozen crust.) I made a crumbly topping with oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, spread it over the pie and baked it for about 35 minutes at 350 F.

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