We always end up with leftovers from Thanksgiving and there are only so many times you can reheat leftovers as is. And we really don’t like wasting food, so we’ve developed some creative ways to use up our leftovers – shepherd’s pie and tom kha turkey (a variation of tom kha gai, the broth, coconut milk based Thai soup). I hope that these ideas will be helpful for you in using up some of your leftovers.
If you are wondering about the photo, the pumpkin tart is still making appearances. That was my slice for dessert. I don’t think I could get tired of eating pumpkin tart.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd’s Pie, adapted liberally from Shepherd’s Pie recipe from How to Cook Meat
I am a huge fan of shepherd’s pie and make it about once a month through the cold, rainy months. The leftover sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes were a good excuse to make this easy meal for a group and use up some leftovers. According to Wikipedia and my How to Cook Meat cookbook, the dish was originally created to use leftover roast meat. Traditionally, the filling includes leftover roast lamb, peas, carrots, and onions and is topped with mashed potatoes. However, it is a dish pretty forgiving to variations. Below the recipe you will find some ideas for some common Thanksgiving dishes. Judging by the number of people going back for seconds, I think shepherd’s pie may become an annual meal.
4-6 cups chopped leftover roast meat or ground meat
1 large onion, diced small
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 small carrots, diced small
1 cup fresh peas (I omitted this because I didn’t have it and added leftover braised brussel sprouts instead)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (I omitted because I didn’t have any left)
I omitted the following because I used meat that was already flavorful, but they should be added if you are using ground beef, lamb or plain leftover roast.
3 Tbsp catsup
3 Tbsp steak sauce
3-4 cups leftover mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or winter squash puree
1/3 cup milk or heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
Make the filling. Saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until onion softens (about 3-4 minutes). Add ground beef or lamb if not using leftover meat. Otherwise add carrot and sauté with onion for 5-6 minutes until carrots softens. If you haven’t added the meat yet, add it now and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until meat is warm (about 4-5 minutes) and add peas or other green vegetables. Mix in catsup and steak sauce, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
Make the topping. Using a potato masher, mix together mashed potato/sweet potato/winter squash puree with milk or heavy cream to get a total of 3-4 cups. Put in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to heat a little. Mix ingredients again and add more milk or heavy cream if necessary to achieve a heavy puree consistency. You will be spreading it over the filling kind of like you are frosting a cake.
Assemble & bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread filling evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 cake pan. Spread topping evenly over the top. Put dabs of butter over top. Bake until top browns slightly, about 40 minutes.
Meat: We used chopped leftover carnita meat (pork shoulder roast) instead of ground lamb or roast lamb. I would be tempted to try chopped leftover turkey (dark meat would probably be better than light), but it might be a little leathery if it cooks a second time. You could also use leftover lamb or beef roast. You need about 4-6 cups of chopped meat for a 9×13 pan.
Other filling ingredients: I didn’t have any peas, but I added our leftover braised brussel sprouts to the mix. I did have some extra onions and carrots, so I chopped those and sautéed them. You could add chopped green beans or chopped kale (or chard or mustard greens). If you have leftover glazed carrots, they would work well.
Topping: For the topping, I mixed our leftover sweet potato puree and mashed potatoes. You could use leftover winter squash puree, or use all mashed potatoes. You need about 3-4 cups of topping for a 9×13 pan.
Tom Kha Turkey, adapted liberally from Shiok restaurant recipe
By today, my tastebuds were ready for something with a little zing and Matt wanted a brothy soup so I settled on tom kha soup. With my homemade turkey stock and leftover turkey, I decided to try making it with turkey instead of chicken. All in all, it was a successful experiment and would have been a homerun had I used galangal instead of ginger. I based my variation on a recipe from a chef in Bangalore. Here is my version:
3 cups turkey stock
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised and chopped into 2 inch sections (I used lemongrass puree because the store didn’t have stalks)
8 thin slices of ginger (preferably galangal instead – I used ginger because we had quite a bit in the fridge)
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12 kaffir lime leaves (each torn into 3-4 pieces)
2 cans of coconut milk
¼ can of coconut cream
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp chile paste
1/2 lb mushrooms (I used crimini and chanterelles)
1-1/2 cups leftover turkey breast pieces
Juice from 3 limes
Leaves of 1/2 bunch of cilantro
Put the stock in a stock pot. Add lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal (or ginger). Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chile paste, coconut milk, and coconut cream and return to a simmer. Add mushrooms return to a simmer for 4-5 minutes. Finally add turkey and cook for 2-3 minutes, just enough to heat turkey through.
Turn off the heat and add the lime juice. Ladle into bowls and add several tablespoons of cilantro.