Usually, the best thing about sad-sack, tepid, listless leftovers is that they taste better than that from which they came. A night or three in the refrigerator does the trick, plus some day-of-service tinkering before you send them forth.
Truly, for decades, I have had to weigh my palate’s judgment on which I prefer: Thanksgiving dinner’s spread, or how some of its elements are rearranged on Friday into the most memorable sandwich of the year.
The British amalgam of leftovers from Sunday dinner called “bubble and squeak” is perfectly adaptable to leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast and one we should adopt with alacrity. It is one of that lexicon of oddly-named U.K. dishes so endearing in title to travelers. It apparently gets its name for how the leftover cabbage produces those two sounds when it hits the skillet on reheating.
Because we rarely serve cabbage, in the common way, for Thanksgiving dinner, our substitute is what the French call “petit choux” (“small cabbages”), our ubiquitous Turkey Day side of Brussels sprouts.
As for that memorable sandwich, variations abound. The simplest–oft-made made with white meat only, plus mayonnaise, black pepper, and a slice of canned cranberry—can give way to a veritable Dagwood of a stack of the same to which deliciously may be added a layer of leftover stuffing, some thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, even a schmear of mashed potato. Press down on it all and douse with a cupful of heated-up leftover gravy. That’s a memory, too, and for sure.
One helpful suggestion recently made to me was to consider leftovers before they became that, in fact way before. When you’re preparing your Thanksgiving dinner, it’s likely you’ll have more in the larder than you’ll need for the meal itself. Don’t let whatever it is go bad and, hence, useless and wasted.
Think on it.
For example, too much squash (sweet potato, too) profitably can be peeled, diced, blanched, and frozen, for later use in risotto, soup, a mash, to flavor hummus, or in another dish as a grace note (in a pasta sauce, for instance, or as part of a vegetable curry). An overabundance of broccoli, likewise, can be broken up, blanched and frozen, then later made into a pesto of sorts with lemon juice, garlic, good oil, and some sort of seeds.
Bubble and squeak
Adapted from recipes.sainsburys.co.uk; makes 10-12 individual servings, perfect for another buffet the day after. The individual crocks or muffin tin cups may be turned out onto a serving plate, if desired.
- 2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled (if desired), chunked
- 1 cup leftover roasted potatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 cup leftover Brussels sprouts, quartered or chopped
- 3/4 cup other roasted or cooked vegetable (not mashed), such as corn, succotash, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, or the like, chopped up if large
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more
- 2 cups leftover turkey, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a very large pot, boil the raw potato chunks in a large amount of salted water for 15 minutes or until just soft and tender. Drain well, return to the pot, then add the roasted potatoes and the butter. Season well with salt and pepper, then roughly mash together, retaining evident lumps.
To that, add the remaining vegetables and gently combine everything. With the oil, lightly coat 10-12 ramekins or other small crocks (or paper 10-12 cups of a muffin tin) and fill each with a portion of the bubble and squeak, lightly pressing down to flatten the tops. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Leftover sweet potato pancakes with sage cream
Adapted from Paul Hobbs Winery, Sonoma California; makes 2-3
- 1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced
- 4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or low-sugar apple juice)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 and 1/2 cup leftover mashed sweet potato
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Leftover turkey breast, sliced and warmed
Make the sage cream: In a saucepan, sauté the shallot and sage in the olive oil. When fragrant, add the white wine (or apple juice) and reduce by half; add the cream and simmer 3-4 minutes on medium-low heat; set aside. Mix together the leftover mashed sweet potato and the egg, salt and pepper until creamy. Melt the butter in a nonstick pan and fry potato pancake over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Put pancake on a plate, top with the turkey breast, top with some sage cream, and serve.
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