BY BETH DOOLEY
Writer for Mpls.St. Paul Magazine and the Star Tribune and regular Kare 11 correspondent
As much as I love Thanksgiving dinner with our family’s traditions, from touch football in the park to the must-have creamed onions in my grandmother’s serving dish, the truth is, it’s the leftovers I relish. For a busy cook, there’s nothing like having ingredients that are prepped and ready to go. The only real trick is in transforming them into a completely different meal. No fun in reheating and eating the same thing again and again.
One of my family’s favorite “make-overs” is this Turkey Pot Pie with Cheddar Chive Cobbler Crust (see recipe below from The Northern Heartland Kitchen). Know that along with the vegetables called for in the recipe, the odds and ends of Thanksgiving vegetable side dishes — cut green beans, cubed squash, creamed onions – make fine additions.
If you’re up to your elbows in leftover mashed potatoes, use them instead of the cobbler crust and create a Shepherd’s Pie. Stuffing, if you have any, can be used to top this pie, too.
A couple more ideas:
-Create a Curry Turkey dinner by warming a simple mix of stock, coconut milk and your favorite curry seasoning in a saucepan. Add the cooked, chopped turkey and leftover vegetables. Serve this over steamed rice. If you may have fancy nuts left from the cocktail hour, chop them up and use to garnish this.
-Turn the a side dish of wild rice into an entrée — Wild Rice, Turkey, Apple and Pecan Salad — by tossing into it freshly chopped apples, cubed turkey, and toasted pecans and little sweet-rough dressing (like a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette) or your favorite oil and vinegar mix.
-Soups are a main-stay after the holidays. For an Asian Turkey Noodle Soup, cook Asian noodles (soba or rice) in stock, add freshly grated ginger, a chopped chile, and soy to taste. Stir in the chopped, cooked turkey and leftover vegetables and garnish with cilantro.
-If you’re long on roasted squash, create a Ginger Squash and Apple Soup by stewing together several peeled chopped apples and freshly grated ginger in stock to generously cover. Mash and stir in the leftover squash. Sweeten with a splash of cider if you wish.
-I’m a big fan of cranberry jelly. Use it in this simple, but wonderful Cranberry Mustard Glaze to brush on roast chicken, game, and pork. Simply melt cranberry jelly in a saucepan with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to taste. Store this in a jar in the refrigerator. I’ve also used freshly cooked cranberry relish to stir into mayonnaise for turkey salad and to spread on sandwiches.
-No doubt, you may have leftover muffins, Parker House rolls or bread to deal with. Toss them into an old fashioned Bread Pudding. Use about 2 cups milk, 4 eggs and ¼ cup sugar spiked with vanilla for a 4 cup mixture of different breads. This is great for a lazy breakfast the Sunday following Turkey Day.
Much as I’d love the chance to “make over” desserts, leftovers have never provided the opportunity, though that would be a good problem to have.
Perhaps I’ll triple the pies this year.
RECIPE: TURKEY POT PIE WITH CHEDDAR CHIVE COBBLER CRUST
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 cups sliced mushrooms
-Salt and freshly ground pepper
-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
-2 carrots, sliced
-1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
-1 celery rib, sliced
-2 boneless chicken thighs or equivalent sized leftover cooked turkey or ham
Cobbler crust ingredients:
-2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup chopped chives
To make the Cheddar chive dough: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small peas. Add Cheddar cheese and chopped chives, then gently stir in the buttermilk until the ingredients are just combined.
To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or a flame-proof casserole set over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and mushrooms until they release their juices and are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes, then season them with salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock and thyme, and boil until the liquid is reduced by about a third. Add the carrots, potato, celery, and turkey, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, turkey, or ham, add it after the vegetables are cooked.
Drop the dough by spoonfuls on top of the vegetables and chicken in the Dutch oven or casserole, covering most of the surface area as you would a cobbler. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.
Beth Dooley has covered the local food scene in the Northern Heartland for 25 years. She is the restaurant critic for Mpls.St. Paul Magazine, writes for the Taste section of the Star Tribune, and appears regularly on Kare 11 (NBC) television in the Twin Cities area. She is coauthor with Lucia Watson of Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland (Minnesota 2004) and most recently, author of The Northern Heartland Kitchen (Minnesota 2011), which offers more than 200 recipes to satisfy seasonal appetites. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three sons.
Visit her blog at www.bethdooley.net.