Dad could carve slices from a turkey so thin you could almost see through them. The idea, of course, was to feed a crowd, and to have leftovers for those all-important turkey sandwiches (hot and cold) and turkey soup. Such surgical skills are clearly not genetic, but we still carve the bird with an eye toward leftovers. Indeed, each Turkey Day it's tempting to roast two birds — one to share at the table and as doggie bags, and one to hide from guests so I can gorge on leftovers for days, and nights, to come. Last year, we actually did. And the anticipation of yummy stuff to come was yet another reason to offer extra hearty thanks at the holiday table.
With the understanding that not everyone in the family is quite as enthusiastic about leftovers (or any kind), our exercise du jour is to share some approaches to your post-Thanksgiving bounty that may stimulate your creativity, and, of course, your family's collective appetite.
But first, a little hint: Carving a turkey into thin slices is one approach to assuring happy diners and even happier family cooks after the party's over. One way to accomplish this is to plan your turkey cooking time to include about one-and-one-half hours after it comes out of the oven before you carve it.
Not to worry, it won't get all dry and crumbly, IF when you remove it from the oven, you cover it with damp kitchen towels, then cover the towels loosely with aluminum foil. This allows the turkey to cool slowly, and as the steam rises through the towels toward the foil, it is re-moisturized. Another plus to this approach is that if the turkey isn't quite as done as you though, the steam helps cook the bird further while still keeping it tender and moist.
Another hint is gather the family for pix starring them and the turkey, then taking it into the kitchen to be carved, while the gang sets out all the side dishes. Slice thinly, white and dark meat, and arrange in pretty platters with lots of parsley. They'll love it, and you'll be in charge of the leftovers.
Now, next day…
We take advantage of several favorite Turkey Day leftovers with this easy main dish that's something of a take-off on hot turkey sandwiches. We use the turkey, of course, but also mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Serve the leftover green beans and root vegetables on the side.
The only "special" items you'll need are frozen puff pastry, and parchment paper.
Note: These go together quickly, but you need to chill the pastries for 20 minutes before baking.
3 cups diced cooked turkey
3/4 cup chilled gravy
2 (17.3-ounce) packages frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups stuffing, divided
2 egg whites, beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons cold water (for glaze)
Cranberry sauce and/or sauerkraut, for serving
Additional gravy, heated, for serving, optional
In a small bowl, mix together turkey and gravy. On a floured surface, roll out all 4 pastry sheets into 12-inch long rectangles. Cut out 2 (6-inch) rounds from each pastry sheet. Place each round on one 8- to 9-inch parchment square.
Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons mashed potatoes onto one half of each pastry round. Press lightly to flatten, leaving a half-inch border all around. Top potatoes with 2 to 3 tablespoons stuffing, then about one-third cup of the turkey. Brush egg white glaze around edges of round. Fold plain half of the pastry round over the filled half to cover. Crimp with a fork all the way around edges. Continue with remaining pastry rounds and filling. Arrange turnovers, including parchment paper, on 2 baking sheets.