Anne's Kitchen: Love your leftovers


Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, right? Anne Freeze of Columbus shares suggestions for enjoying the feast the second time around. Leftover turkey sandwiches made with dressing, mayo and cranberry on white bread are one of her favorites. Or try different breads and flavors, like the sandwich pictured, made with Brie.

Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, right? Anne Freeze of Columbus shares suggestions for enjoying the feast the second time around. Leftover turkey sandwiches made with dressing, mayo and cranberry on white bread are one of her favorites. Or try different breads and flavors, like the sandwich pictured, made with Brie. Photo by:


Anne Freeze



Ah, Thanksgiving. The frenzy of the grocery store, getting the turkey thawed in time, waking early to get it in the oven, searching for oven space for that last casserole -- and don't forget to heat the rolls!  


For many, it's a day of travel and family and dishes everywhere. It might involve a 20-pound turkey or, for some, even a turkey breast might be too much. For Terry and me, it will be the latter, along with a small can of LeSeur peas and sauteed mushrooms (for me), one sweet potato, mashed (Terry), a little bit of rice (me), cranberry sauce (me), dressing (both) and a Bloody Mary (definitely both of us). Why go to the trouble for two people? Well, because it's Thanksgiving, even if I don't prepare the meal until Saturday. And, perhaps more important, is because we need leftovers. Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without a turkey sandwich with mayo, cranberry sauce and dressing on white bread. 


I'm here to offer some suggestions to keep the meals after Thursday as interesting as the big bird was on its first day. Now, I don't have recipes for all of these; it is for inspiration.  




Relish tray 


Ours will have olives, celery sticks, toasted pecans and maybe some carrot sticks. Save the celery and carrots for sauteeing in some of the following recipes. Throw the pecans in the freezer and eat the olives. Or, chop them up, add some of the toasted pecans (chopped) and mix with a little cream cheese for a cracker spread. 






Many Southerners make cornbread dressing cooked in a casserole. I grew up with cornbread dressing. The cornbread and biscuits would be made a day or two in advance to dry out and then crumbled and mixed with sauteed onion and celery. Lots of salt and pepper (no sage) were added, along with chicken stock.  


When the turkey came out of the oven Momma would take the drippings to pour over all of it for added flavor. Then instead of a casserole, she would make what she called "pones" and dollop the dressing on baking pans. They'd be about the size of a large cookie. This way everyone got crispy edges, and when the time came for a sandwich you just reached in the refrigerator and grabbed one. They were the perfect size for Little Miss Sunbeam white bread. If you make yours in a casserole, try either slicing the dressing or mushing it into a patty and frying in a little butter. You'll get a crispy outside and soft inside. 




Mashed potatoes 


You can add milk and chicken or vegetable broth to the potatoes and make soup. You can make patties and lightly flour them for fried potato cakes. You can add your peas or chopped turkey to them and then make patties and fry. A fancier version is below, for croquettes. 




Sweet potatoes 


I have no idea what to do with those marshmallows on top, but if you scrap them off you can basically do the same things with the sweet potatoes as with the mashed potatoes. I have made sweet potato soup from leftovers.  




Macaroni and cheese 


If it solidifies enough in the refrigerator, you can cut it into cubes or form into golf ball-sized balls, do a three-step dredge and deep fry. Yum!  




Green bean casserole 


I'm at a loss on this one. Just reheat and eat. 






Greens (such as collards or turnips) can be added to turkey soup, or make beans and greens, or add a little to the mashed potato patties. 






Layer rice, chopped turkey and dressing in a casserole (you could also add peas for a layer, or the greens). Spoon gravy over each layer and heat at 350 F. until hot.  




Scalloped oysters 


My mother would take a scoop or two and put it in a small saucepan with milk or half-and-half to make a quick oyster stew.  




Cranberry sauce 


Mix with mayonnaise for sandwiches or heat gently with a splash of orange juice, or port or orange liqueur for a sauce for pork or turkey. I'd add some of those roasted pecans to the sauce as well. 






Finally, the turkey. When you've had enough sandwiches (I'm told that some do tire of them, but I don't know if this is true) there are many things you can do. Cut up the turkey meat and make hash or add to the potato cakes.  


You can make soup or creamed turkey with a simple white sauce. And when there is just a smidgen of meat left, cut up the bones and put them in a pot. Cover with water and cook for two hours at a simmer, skimming off the foam. Strain out any impurities and you've got turkey stock to freeze for later. A well-respected food site recommended not roasting the bones or using vegetables in the stock. That's up to you.  


With all of these ideas, remember to taste, and taste again. You may want to take the sweet potatoes in a southwest direction with a dash of cumin and chili powder, or discover that the mashed potatoes weren't flavorful enough.  






Makes 6 




2 cups mashed potatoes 


2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley  


Coarse salt and ground pepper  


1 cup all-purpose flour  


1 large egg  


1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs  


Vegetable oil  




  • In a large bowl, stir together mashed potatoes and parsley; season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, place flour; season with salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water. In a third shallow bowl, place 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs.  


  • Form potato mixture into 3/4-by-2-inch logs. Roll in flour, shaking off excess, dip in egg wash, then roll in breadcrumbs to coat. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 inches vegetable oil over medium-high until hot. In batches, fry croquettes until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per batch, turning as needed. Drain on paper towels.  






    Serves 4-6 




    5 tablespoons unsalted butter 


    1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced 


    1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions) 


    2 teaspoons kosher salt 


    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 


    1/2 pound cooked turkey, cut in 1-inch cubes 


    2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 


    2 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts 




  • Melt butter in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan. Add potatoes, onions, salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally with a flat spatula, until potatoes are evenly browned and cooked through. (Allow potatoes to cook 5 minutes before turning.) Add cooked turkey and heat for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and add parsley and scallions. Serve hot. 








    1 quart peanut oil, for frying 


    Leftover macaroni and cheese, refrigerated overnight 


    1/2 cup all-purpose flour 


    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 


    1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground 


    1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne 


    1 large egg 


    1/4 cup water 


    1 cup Panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs 




  • Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, to 375 F. 


  • Meanwhile, cut the refrigerated mac and cheese into slabs roughly the size and shape of a deck of cards, or into 1 1/2-inch squares. 


  • Combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne in a pie plate. Whisk the egg and water together in a second pie plate. Breadcrumbs go in a third pie plate. 


  • Dredge each slab of mac in the flour and tap off as much excess powder as possible. Dip in egg wash, then coat thoroughly with breadcrumbs.  


  • Set aside on a cooling rack 5 minutes to set. Ease 3 or 4 pieces into the oil at a time and fry until golden brown, 3-4 minutes, flipping once. Remove to cooling rack set over paper towels. Repeat until there's nothing left to fry. Serve hot  


    (Depending on pan size, you might be able to get away with less oil, as long as you have enough to come halfways up the side of the pieces you intend to fry.)



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