Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftover Madness!

I wrote an article for Insider Louisville on handling Thanksgiving leftovers! The original article was published on this link:
Insider Louisville Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and your house is still full of varying amounts of leftovers, it is time to get creative! I enjoy this part of the holiday as much as preparing the fresh ingredients because it gives me the opportunity to try new experiments…and if they don’t happen to work out, no worries, chances are it will be difficult to recreate the ingredients until the next Thanksgiving rolls around.

Let’s brainstorm a little bit to see what we can come up with, then I’ll try and throw a few recipes at you.

Turkey can be great in the post-Thanksgiving staple sandwich, but let’s think outside the box for a second and see where this versatile meat can take you.

When I was in Europe, I lived with quite a few Spaniards, who loooooved their croquetas. Croquetas can basically take any filling you like, but the turkey croquetas we whipped up were especially delicious and plentiful. These little fried bundles of joy can fill you and a small army of friends up in no time at all. When made correctly it is like eating a turkey-flavored cloud in light, crispy breading.

Regarding the nasty bits (the carcass and giblets, if you didn’t put them in the gravy), throw all that glory into a pot with some aromatic herbs and veggies and water and make yourself a stock! Then you can use it in soups all winter…it freezes like a dream!

Something else you can do is make a Strata (here’s my recipe), and layer the turkey, vegetables, leftover bread, even stuffing could be livened up in this dish. Then, if you have leftover cheese from you hors d’oeuvres, serve with a side of cranberry sauce.

Thanks to our friends down south, we have a great abundance and respect for the corn and flour tortilla.
Ever thought of making leftovers taco-style? Add some cumin to those green beans, mix some salsa into the stuffing, add a dollop of sweet potatoes, and reheat the turkey with garlic and peppers. Pile all of these onto a taco and you’re ready to go! Along the same vein, you can scatter various leftovers over some tortilla chips and heat them in the oven–Thanksgiving nachos…you’re welcome.

Hmm, what else? I bet you can mix turkey meat with stuffing and an egg, form them into patties and grill up some turkey burgers. Top with your cranberry sauce and some leftover salad greens and you have a party in your mouth.

Turkey Chili…you can run with that one if you want.

Ah, and to top it all off, I found something really intriguing at the store: gyoza wrappers! I’m sure rice wrappers for spring rolls could pull this off too, but gyoza wrappers (also commonly known as wonton wrappers or potsticker wrappers) are just begging to be filled with whatever combination you can imagine.

Cut the turkey into miniscule pieces and mix with caramelized peppers and onions and ginger, then fill the wrappers and steam, fry, or steam AND fry them. A similar combination can be made with desserts and you can have dessert bites. Fill these with your vegetable sides and you have a nice bite-sized meal ahead of you.

Making gyoza is a wonderful way to get people involved in the kitchen–take this opportunity to kick back after your 2-day cooking marathon and have everyone get their hands into some food. I guess this might be a good recipe to leave with you since it does involve a procedure that you may not be familiar with.

Leftover Gyoza
Gyoza wrappers (can be found at Asian supermarkets, and apparently mainstream ones now too)
Various leftover combinations
Bowl of water for finger-dipping

Make sure that you cut your leftovers, onions, ginger, and garlic into tiny pieces–that’s the secret to most Asian cooking, notice the small pieces that cook fast and evenly…I know, how could you have missed that detail?! Basically, you are going to mix up all of the ingredients except for the wrappers and sautĂ© them until they become a nice little filling. Then you put about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. Here comes the technique:

Dip your finger into the water bowl and swipe it along the top half-moon of the wrapper. This will allow you to fold up the bottom half-moon and adhere the wrapper dough to itself. If you want to look really authentic and hold in your ingredients well, you should fan-fold the wrapper before pressing it down on the dampened end. This is exactly the same technique you use when you are folding crimps into a pie crust. Call in your friends to help you here…it’s tons of fun!

When your gyoza are all folded and ready, you can throw them in a frying pan with a little peanut oil/sesame oil combo and brown them on both sides, then you can choose to steam them or hold them in the oven on low heat to keep them warm. When all your magnificent gyoza are finished, you can serve them with a ponzu sauce or simple soy sauce.

I hope that this guide can at least inspire some ideas for using all those delicious leftovers aside from just reheating them. Have a happy holiday and I hope you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving for all that it gives us!

Enjoy friends and Happy Holidays!

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