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High Points: What to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers

Paul E. Anna
High Points
Assorted homemade fall pies. Pumpkin, apple and pecan. Top view table scene on a dark wood banner background.
GettyImages/courtesy photo

Pie for breakfast.

It is one of great guilty indulgences of this life. And, there is no better day to partake than this day — the day after Thanksgiving. Hopefully, your holiday Thursday brought you a bit of a break, and that whatever you did — run a Turkey Trot 5K (Yes, I did), ski our snowy slopes (Yes, I did ), watch some football (Yes, I did), and overindulge on your Thanksgiving dinner (Duh) — delivered you to a place of gratitude.

But, for my money, the best thing about Thanksgiving is, drum roll please: leftovers. Yes, I have always thought the turkey and the stuffing and the sweet potatoes and the Brussels sprouts and the cranberry sauce were better the second time ‘round. Call me crazy, but, for me, Thanksgiving lasts until Sunday when that last turkey sandwich gets served up in the waning hours of the four-day weekend. By then, I have had enough, but, for now — and the next couple of days— eating will be a focal point.



Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the pomp and circumstance: The Wednesday into Thursday preparation of the feast, the arrival of guests, and the carving of the bird as much as anyone. It’s just that I think that all of the mains and sides are a bit more … primal when consumed outside of the celebration.

And, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. There is an entire cottage industry built around creating recipes for “the day after” and beyond. By the way, the mantra for that second time around crowd is “freeze it or lose it by the fourth day.” The USDA agrees that by the time you get to Monday, it’s a bit late.




But, Thursday to Sunday is plenty of time to re-invent the dishes that you made for friends and family. Aside from turkey sandwiches, how about turkey enchiladas, or a turkey fricassee, or a turkey pot pie, or Giada’s turkey pasta Bolognese (That one was from The Food Network). The New York Times had a suggestion this week for a turkey-ramen dish. Who knew the bird could be so versatile? There are so many leftover turkey recipes that one might even consider making a turkey at a time other than Thanksgiving. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

But, it’s more than just the turkey. The stuffing, really just soggy bread crumbs that have been tarted up, can crisp up under a broiler and, if spiced just right, provide a fulfilling and flavorful nibble on a Saturday afternoon when the Trojans host the Irish (If you know, you know). There are recipes out there for stuffing-based waffles that would be fun if you have a waffle iron. You can reheat those sweet or mashed or boiled ‘taters and smother them in butter or pour some leftover gravy for a snack. Have some leftover cranberries? Make a smoothie.

But, we began with pie, and, for me, that is not just the beginning but the middle and the end — actually, the be all of the Thanksgiving holiday. Pies are my jam, if you will, and I always bake more than is needed. Having said that, there is never any left by the end of the weekend. Pumpkin pie is the star, but pecan pie always makes a solid guest appearance. I have occasionally strayed and produced a chocolate cream, or a Chess Pie (a custardy Southern concoction), but usually I stick to tradition and indulge — or overindulge as the case may be — with the classics.

In fact, that is what I will be doing for breakfast right now as you read this. And, I am thankful for the opportunity.