Beyond the turkey sandwich; other ways to use leftovers

By Dana Zia, The Golightly Gourmet
Thanksgiving leftovers. Who doesn’t love them? I once heard that if Thanksgiving is the biggest eating day of the year then the day after is the second biggest eating day of the year. I completely agree with this! I honestly think everything tastes better. Maybe it’s cause I’m not stuffed to the gills but I love those leftovers.

Now I must have a repeat of that delicious dinner the day after, let’s say by brunch, seeming I had pie for breakfast, but by the next morning my mind (and my taste buds) have begun to wander. I start wondering what else I can do with all the nummy food bulging from the fridge.
We all know the classic turkey sandwich that is a must the next day. In fact, when I polled my friends on Facebook the majority of them voted turkey sandwiches as their favorite post turkey day food. But there are so many more possibilities! As you could imagine, I have been busy collecting quite an assortment of post-turkey day recipes that are just as wonderful as the dinner. Seriously.
The first thing I do the morning after (after I’ve had my pie of course) is to stuff the turkey carcass in a large pot and make stock with it. Turkey makes the most wonderful stock and enough to last through many a soup night in the winter. Just place the turkey carcass, wings and neck included, in a large soup pot and add a cup or so of white wine, a few carrots, celery, some springs of herbs, and a chopped onion (skin on which adds more color and depth of flavor), then fill with water till just covered.
Simmer at just barely a bubble, covered, for 3-4 hours. Chill for the night and scrape the fat off the top, give it to the dog, and then bring the lovely mess up to room temp over medium heat. Remove from the heat and strip all the meat from the bones (leave in the soup) and very carefully remove all the bones and veggies from the stock. (I have found the hands are the only way to do this right, thus why room temp is so much more pleasant than 40 degrees.) And voila! Freeze in quart containers and you are well “stocked” for the winter.
A brilliant idea that I friend of mine came up with, is to make post-thanksgiving day pizza. Get a pizza crust of your choice, bake it till almost done, (or get a pre-baked pizza crust) and layer with all the trimmings using the gravy as the sauce, sprinkle it with parmesan cheese and finish it off in the oven till the cheese is melted. It is wonderful!
Another great recipe is to make a shepherd’s pie with the bounty. Fill a casserole with whatever veggies are left over, then a layer of turkey, pour gravy over that, top with the mashed potatoes and parmesan cheese and bake till hot and bubbly. (Parmesan cheese, in case you haven’t noticed, is most excellent with turkey and the trimmings)
A delicious standard in our house is turkey quesadillas with pepper jack cheese and cranberry salsa. The salsa is easy to make, just mix in cilantro, lime juice, finely minced shallots, chopped pear or apple, and some cumin into the cranberry sauce and serve with the hot quesadillas. Muy Bueno!
And now for my final act, I want to introduce my favorite way to use up leftovers; Green salad with Turkey and bacon cranberry vinaigrette. This came to me in one of those moments that I had to have something different, something with no grain or gluten, something that would make me feel lighter after all the heavy food of the holiday. This was just the ticket.
In our house, the dark meat is the first to go so I have to use turkey breast which can be dry and tasteless. So right away I decided to add some fat to the turkey breast meat. You know what I’m going to say right? BACON! Oh yeah. Then I made a cranberry vinaigrette out of the cranberry sauce and oh my gosh. I’m sold. Just remember to get inventive and creative when using up those leftovers. There are no set rules and the sky is the limit. (If you are willing to give up those sandwiches)

Turkey and bacon salad with cranberry vinaigrette
Serves two

Salad greens enough to fill two big salad bowls
Turkey or chicken meat enough for two salads
Four pieces of bacon fried and crumbled, reserve the fat
1/2 apple diced
1 tablespoon of minced red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped hazelnuts
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 tablespoon of blue cheese crumbled
Finely minced fresh rosemary (optional but amazing)

For the vinaigrette
Pan drippings of from the bacon
1 shallot minced
Or 2 tablespoons of onion minced
1 -2 cloves of garlic minced
.5 cup of cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the vinaigrette; after you fry up the bacon, in the reserved bacon grease sauté over medium heat, the shallot and garlic till just barley fragrant, then add the cranberry sauce. Stir constantly because it is going to want to stick to the pan. Add the vinegar and stir some more. If the vinaigrette seems too thick add the olive oil at the last minute. I did not. Adjust the seasonings and voila!

Fill up your salad bowls with greens and add the turkey, apples, onion and hazelnuts evenly between the bowls. Crumble the rosemary, bacon and blue cheese on top. Drizzle on the cranberry vinaigrette and get ready for a mouth explosion!