Maybe it’s always the Riesling kicking in, but for my money the hours immediately following the annual Thanksgiving turkey feast feature some of the best eating of the entire year. You’re not really hungry at 4pm after an early-afternoon feast, but always find yourself at the platter of room temperature turkey, snagging a little white meat here, a pinch of thigh meat there. You scoop some gravy over the top and then cap it with some green bean casserole. 15 seconds in the microwave and you’re set. No one saw that microwave bit but, again, that could be the Riesling. Or Busch Light, if your family’s raided all your good stuff. Anyway, the parade of leftovers is one of the better draws Thanksgiving has to offer (heavens knows this year it won’t be the political conversations). Even the next day is a gift. But by day two that 20-lb. turkey seems more curse than blessing. This is where a touch of creativity comes into play – and to the rescue. Here are some of our favorites:
- Turkey Sandwich with Bacon, Avocado and Red Onion – Nothing groundbreaking here but do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of loaves of bread from Uprise. Their Columbia Sourdough and Batard breads are your best bet here, but stuffing a baguette with the goods would be a fantastic idea too. Don’t skimp on the mayo, people.
- Turkey Enchiladas – Shred cooked turkey, toss with some canned enchilada sauce (these are leftovers, people), roll into corn tortillas and top with more sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 350. Can’t go wrong.
- Chopped Salad – This is going to be your new favorite home for any leftover deviled eggs, radishes, apples, cucumber, romaine, tomatoes, avocado and so on. Just chop it all up into pieces, throw into a big salad bowl, top with turkey and add a cheese of choice – I’ll be going with Goatsbeard blue. This is also when ranch dressing makes sense. If Hidden Valley threatens your refined sensibilities, kick it up a notch with a little vinaigrette, some orange zest, whatever.
- NEW FAVORITE —> California Veggie Sandwich (with added Turkey, original pictured above) – Just as the best sandwich in town – the Vegetarian at Sub Shop – is made immeasurably better through the addition of bacon, so too will this killer sandwich we tried out last week (recipe via Bon Appetit) be with some leftover smoked turkey. Loads of crunchy veggies, bright with pickles and and boasting enough creamy goat cheese and avocado to give the thing some real chops. It’s gorgeous and messy and was spectacular even without the turkey. Hint: leftover bacon wouldn’t make it worse…just saying.
- Buy a good bird – We’re getting a little short on time but check with Laura at Country Neighbors (660-248-2730) or the good people at The Root Cellar. Local, properly-raised turkeys taste better and are far more forgiving than the ones packed beak to wingtip in a warehouse. Shocking, I know. And it’s only once a year guys. Pony up if you can.
- Learn to carve – I remember the first time I had to carve a turkey for a crowd. We were just a few years out of college and putting on a proper Thanksgiving dinner on our own felt pretty daunting. YouTube came to the rescue. But this video from the New York Times is even better (though I prefer to keep the skin on). Watch it and you’ll never fret the process again.
- Sharpen your knife – The Blade Runner knife sharpening service will be at the farmer’s market Saturday. Take that battered old carving or chef’s knife to Colby when you arrive – preferably early – and they’ll hone that thing to better-than-new status while you stock up on the produce you need for the big day.
- Make turkey stock – You bought a good bird, right? It was pricey, yes? Get your money’s worth. Throw your veggie scraps into a pot with the turkey carcass and simmer that for a couple of hours. Strain, chill and freeze for use anywhere you’d normally go with chicken broth.