Thankful for those leftovers

Tomorrow, as I dig into the roast turkey, the corn-bread stuffing, the hominy casserole, the mashed potatoes and gravy, I also will be thinking about how good these dishes will taste at the many eating opportunities stretched over the weekend.

I do bow before the golden bird on Thanksgiving Day. But shortly thereafter, I crave that cold turkey sandwich on rye with a little horseradish and mayonnaise. Leftover stuffing, always in short supply in our house, is a treasure, especially when topped with a little warm gravy. The potatoes that appeared in their mashed splendor during the main meal reappear as flat but savory pancakes at lunch a day or two later.


The plethora of pies, which I couldn't finish off on Thursday, provides welcome company over the long weekend. I have discovered that if you are the first one out of bed on Friday morning, you can revel in that rare early-morning trio of solitude, a hot cup of coffee and a slice of minced meat pie for breakfast.

In addition to cleaning off my plate on Thanksgiving, I believe in picking the turkey carcass clean in the days that follow the feast. That dark meat on the bottom of the bird is an outstanding late-night snack.


Sometimes my wife and I toss the picked-over turkey carcass into a pot of water, add a lot of vegetables, and make soup. We did that recently, as a warm-up to Thanksgiving, adding a bunch of kale to a mix of onions, carrots and turkey bones. The result was a good pot of soup and a long bout of feeling virtuous.

Recently, I experimented with another leftover dish, turkey hash. Turkey hash has been around, I suspect, since Squanto met the Pilgrims.

The recipe I tried came from a veteran cook, the late Julia Child. The recipe in The Way to Cook was said to be "old-fashioned," and that sounded appealing to me.

It began with an interesting twist, marinating the bits of turkey meat in a bath of lemon juice, herbs and olive oil. This bath, I guess, was supposed to give the turkey new life.

Next, I sauted some onions in a large frying pan and eventually added the turkey, along with cooked potatoes, peas and various liquids, including some cream, into the frying pan.

The idea, Julia said in her cookbook instructions, was to get a good crust on the bottom of the pan, then stir the crust into the body of the hash, and cook the mixture until more crusts develop.

I came up a little short in the crust department. I cooked up a couple of them, but my hash never did reach the acclaimed state of "crusty outside and tender savory inside" that Julia said I should shoot for.

Nonetheless, it was really good turkey hash. It added yet another dish to my ever-lengthening list of Thanksgiving leftovers.


Old-Fashioned Turkey Hash

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups to 2 cups boneless and skinless cooked turkey, chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

2 or 3 potatoes

1 cup diced onions

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups hot liquid (milk, poultry stock, gravy or cream) (divided use)


salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup diced cooked vegetables (peas, carrots, broccoli) 2/3 cup lightly pressed down grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella)

In a bowl, toss the turkey with lemon juice, oil and thyme and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes; you should have about 2 cups. Drop them into a pan of lightly salted water and simmer, 5 minutes or so, until barely tender. Drain.

Saute the onions slowly in a 10-inch frying pan with butter until tender. Raise heat slightly and brown lightly, about 10 minutes. Blend in flour; cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and blend in 1 cup of hot liquid; simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fold the potatoes into the hash base along with the turkey and its marinade, the vegetables and the remaining hot liquid.

Cover the pan and simmer slowly for 35 to 40 minutes. Every 10 or 15 minutes, uncover the pan and stir the bottom crust into the rest of the hash. Add liquid if mixture seems dry.


To finish the hash, blend in the cheese, stir the mixture again and cook, uncovered, until the bottom is nicely brown and well-crusted.

From "The Way to Cook" by Julia Child

Per serving: 420 calories, 28 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 83 milligrams cholesterol, 107 milligrams sodium