Here it is, the day before my first time hosting Thanksgiving, and I’m already thinking ahead to the weekend when I’m hosting a Thanksgiving leftovers smorgasbord.
We see a lot of family for the holidays, but there are also friends who are very special in our lives that we want to celebrate with. This year I decided to throw a sort of open house-style party, telling all my guests that we won’t be cooking anything new, but we’ll be sharing our leftovers and you are encouraged to bring your leftovers to share as well.
Sure, you might be tired of eating your Aunt Sally’s sausage and sourdough stuffing, but why not try someone else’s cornbread and bacon version? Your family might not like yams so you didn’t have any on the big day, but what if someone else thought their in-laws would enjoy them and then found out that they didn’t? Plus, who wants to cook again when our refrigerators are still stuffed?
I do plan to make a few dishes, but strictly from my leftovers — and I’m hoping I make enough food so that I have plenty of leftovers! I went with the 1½ pounds of turkey per person and about six different starches on the menu, so I’m guessing our nine adults and five children will take tiny portions. And I’m hoping these recipes will be useful to your family as well, whether you’re planning to have a second party or not.
First up, turkey and rice soup. This also includes basic instructions for making your own broth from the turkey carcass, which I plan to do, though in my slow cooker, and I’ll let it go all day on low. There is no substitute for homemade broth. I even bought some extra refrigerator crescent dough to go alongside this.
Another turkey option is turkey mozzarella pull-apart bread. Pull apart breads are a great party food, because there’s such an intimacy when you’re eating with your hands, and to be honest, they’re quite rich so a little goes a long way. Here you crisscross cut the bread, tuck in turkey, top it with cranberry sauce (just a little for some bright tangy flavor) and top it with mozzarella and herbed melted butter. Yum! I know I won’t have any leftovers from this!
Another super easy use-up recipe is this sweet potato hummus. I wouldn’t use this if you overly candy your sweet potatoes, but if you use just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon as my mother makes them, then adding chickpeas and garlic and cayenne are going to shake them up and make them perfect for a party dip.
And finally, for when the parties are over, or for the morning of going out to get your Christmas tree, a breakfast strata that uses a whopping four cups of leftover stuffing. Adding eggs, milk and cream, letting the stuffing soak it up, will make a rich, filling casserole for breakfast.
To make broth from turkey carcass, remove meat from bones and set aside for later. Add bones to a large stock pot with celery, onion, and carrot ends. Add a 2 mashed cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, a couple sprigs of thyme or parsley, and a few peppercorns. Add enough water to fully submerge bones. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. Strain liquid and discard remaining scraps.
In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add thyme, salt and pepper and stir.
Add wild rice, broth, and turkey. Stir and cover. Simmer 20 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
For creamier soup, stir in Greek yogurt using the following method: Remove ¼ cup broth from the soup and let cool slightly. Stir into yogurt. Pour yogurt mixture into soup, slowly. Stir to combine. This will prevent the yogurt from curdling.
I always thought it was silly that people would get so freaked out about a turkey, but now that I’m in their shoes, I get it. It’s the star of the show, taking up a huge amount of your time and oven, and you want to get it right.
½ cup fat free half and half (you can substitute more milk)
½ cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cubed brie or shredded mozzarella (or other mild cheese) *optional
Spread the leftover stuffing evenly into a casserole dish (about 9 inch square).
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half and half, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture over the top of the stuffing, covering completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the dish in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Overnight is even better.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If desired, sprinkle cubed brie or shredded cheese on top of the egg strata mixture. Place the strata in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until egg custard is set.
Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.