Thanksgiving recipes: Leftovers beyond the sandwich


Turkey sandwiches are great, especially this American dip. But they can only get you so far. / AFR photo by Michele Kayal

What on earth would possess someone (me) with only eight guests to procure a 24-pound turkey? One word: leftovers.

They’re the highlight of the holiday and everyone knows it. Years ago I used to feel compelled to pack baggies of turkey and stuffing for my guests, but those days are over. With the exception of dessert, I want them all for myself.

That said, turkey sandwiches can only get you so far (though we do love this take on this take on the French dip.) After a couple days, you need a new strategy. I’m a fan of that wonderful 1960s mushroom and sherry concoction turkey tetrazzini, but my less-nostalgic family forbids it. No matter. We’ve teamed with to get you through the turkey sandwich slump.

turkey a la king

Turkey a la king: the ultimate comfort food. / Photo courtesy of

Turkey a la king

The mellower little sister of turkey tetrazzini, this creamy stew, usually served on toast points, is a take on chicken a la king, a 19th-century dish with a disputed provenance. Like many American dishes, chicken a la king is often traced to chef Charles Ranhofer of New York’s Delmonico restaurant. Other theories place its creation at Claridge’s in London, New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, Miami, Philadelphia and Brighton Beach (the neighborhood next to Coney Island.) I admit the debate has me itching to dig into the Library of Congress and other files, but for now I’ll settle for serving this turkey version once sandwiches get old.

Turkey-Mushroom Crepe Cake

Think of this dish as turkey a l’emperor — that is, a creamy stew like a la king, but wrapped in a crepe and topped with cheese. These are leftovers you can serve to company.

Turkey Cranberry Turnovers

Hand pies can be found all around the country. Think Cornish pasties in the upper Midwest, pea-and-potato stuffed Indian samosas in Chicago, Jamaican beef patties in New York and flaky chicken or beef-filled Latin American empanadas just about anywhere. This turkey-cranberry turnover is almost an American parody, a hand pie stuffed with the fixin’s of a Thanksgiving dinner.


Indian spices can jazz up turkey or any meat. / AFR photo by Michele Kayal

Curried Leftover Turkey

Anyone see the episode of Modern Family where Cam reminds Clare, spiteful that she’s lost control of Thanksgiving, how much she loves his tandoori turkey? While tradition is mandatory on Thanksgiving Day, curried turkey is permissible once the holiday passes. And it’s more American than you may think. This curried turkey is reminiscent of Country Captain, a 19th century dish chicken dish laced with spices, peppers, onions and the occasional sprinkle of mango, apples or other fruit. In fact, this turkey curry recipe comes from the so-called “Dean of American cookery,” James Beard.

Turkey Croquettes

Croquettes are a useful part of every cook’s toolbox. Bread or another filler stretches out leftovers and happily accommodates individual tablespoons of pepper, onion, celery, parsley and other aromatic tidbits. Patti Miller and Leslie Hotaling, proprietors of Panorama at the Peak restaurant in Berkeley Springs, W. Va., rely on “green grandma” — aka: the 1947 cookbook classic Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking — for theirs.

mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes make a good base for many dishes. / Photo courtesy of

Mashed Potato Cake

All hail the mashed potato, that most versatile vegetable preparation. Long after it’s served its purpose as a vehicle for gravy, it can go on to fill a knish, bind together bacon and Brussels sprouts or other vegetables in  “bubble and squeak” or become a “cake,” iced on two sides with thin, crispy cheese, as in this recipe.

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7 Responses to Thanksgiving recipes: Leftovers beyond the sandwich

  1. Yzenith Chinese Recipes November 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Subs is my first American food, To save money, I do eating for one whole month “subway”, meat ball subs.

    although this is Sandwich but it only let me remember the subway

  2. Paul Ellis November 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Great recipes for the UK Xmas Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the USA 🙂

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      Michele Kayal November 28, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      Paul, let us know how it turns out!

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      Michele Kayal November 28, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      also — why don’t you make it a “Brit Dip” by substituting Marmite for the gravy??!!

  3. Mary Bartlett November 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    I’m probably risking a trip out to the woodshed but Green Grandma’s croquettes, a wonderful recipe, just seems a little high falutin’ for leftovers. If you have leftover gravy, you don’t need to make the sauce. I mix chopped up leftover turkey with the gravy (and add a bit of stuffing), and then proceed with breading and frying.
    Thanks for a great post and happy Thanksgiving!

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      Michele Kayal November 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      No woodshed. Your take on the croquette sounds delicious — and expedient since it helps use even more leftovers. Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Pls send us a photo of the croquettes!