What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Homemade Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich.
Homemade Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich.Shutterstock

Leftovers are easily one of the best parts about Thanksgiving. In fact, we’d argue the day-after meal can be far more enjoyable and rewarding than the big holiday feast. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Homemade Turkey Chili with beans and scallions.
Homemade Turkey Chili with beans and scallions. Shutterstock

Tex-Mex, Gumbo or Soup

At Tim Love‘s home in Fort Worth, Texas, the chef turns his scraps into a fiery Tex-Mex spread. “I like to mix it up a little bit,” he says. “I make enchiladas, quesadillas, chilaquiles with fried eggs and pulled turkey meat.”

Patrick Mould whips up a turkey-based gumbo every year, while some people prefer a rich turkey soup.

Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with brie cheese and cranberry sauce on cutting board.
Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with brie cheese and cranberry sauce on cutting board. Shutterstock

Turkey Sandwich

For many others—the impulse to lounge trumping the draw of the kitchen—the optimum day-after lunch is actually the least labor-intensive: the sort of big, heaping turkey sandwich Homer Simpson might make. Put whatever you like inside: some mashed or sweet potatoes to bind the sandwich; cranberries for a sweet and salty zing. Or don’t. The point is, the day-after sandwich is your big opportunity to revisit the best of yesterday’s meal.

New York chef Bobby Flay grew up with a holiday meal that included white-bread stuffing and canned cranberry sauce. His sandwich colossus: homemade roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing piled between slices of mayonnaise-slathered toast. “It’s a little weird putting bread on bread,” Flay says, “but it’s really satisfying.”

Clark Frasier, chef at Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine, pares his sandwich down to meat only (with mayo, pickles, mustard, and lettuce). “I don’t need cranberries on my sandwich,” he says.

Bread pudding in casserole dish
Brent Hofacker

Bread Pudding

Or if you’re willing to put in a bit more effort, take some advice from Chicago chef Graham Elliot. He makes bread pudding from stuffing. When firmed up and sliced, it serves as the bread. Add turkey, chestnuts, turkey jus mayo, pickled yams, and cranberry relish.

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