I feel no shame asking to take home a leftover turkey carcass. I will fish a carcass out of the trash at my host’s house if that’s what it takes.
When the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast is done being a centerpiece, the real cooking begins: The bones, skin and, if you’re lucky, the innards and bits of meat left on the bird are boiled to oblivion the next day for the base of a soup that I look forward to even more than the main meal.
We at the Post gathered our collective recipes for the best ways to use leftovers after the most hallowed eating day of the year, controversial turkey sandwiches notwithstanding (cranberry sauce on the same sandwich as mayonnaise is plain barbaric).
From potato tacos to a dish we can only label a “Thanksgiving abomination,” we’re going to help you free up some space in your refrigerator today. We’ve even got you vegans covered.
Turkey soup with dumplings
First, let’s get back to the carcass. If you had to pull it out of the trash, you might want to give it a rinse. Then cram as much of the carcass as you can into as big of a pot as you can find, prioritizing the bones (the more skin, the more fatty the soup will be). Then, add a chopped onion, a few celery stalks, a few carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, a bay leaf and whatever herbs you have left from Thanksgiving, fill the pot with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and let it cook as long as possible (at the very least, two hours).
When you’re ready, taste the soup. Add salt if needed, or a little chicken stock if the flavor isn’t strong; some birds are more flavorful than others. Strain out the loose herbs, bones, and chunky veggies. And what you have left is a pot of pure gold.
Bring the soup back to a boil, add a bag of mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans), more herbs or seasoning if you like. In the meantime, chop and add any meat left on the bones or in your refrigerator (for this, dark meat is better).
And here’s where things get a little advanced, but totally worth the effort: Egg drop dumplings.
Combine three egg yolks, salt and pepper, a half teaspoon of nutmeg and fresh or dry parsley to taste. In a separate measuring container, combine the whites from your eggs, and as much milk as it takes to make a cup of fluid. Then, in a frying pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and add one cup of flour, and let it cook for 30 seconds or so, then add the egg white mixture and stir constantly until it thickens (it will look like homemade glue at this point). Just when the majority becomes thick and lumpy, add the egg yolk mixture, stir thoroughly and continue to heat through. Use a teaspoon to then drop lumps of the mixture into the boiling soup. When done, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
This “recipe” comes from the kitchen of Post Publisher David Sommers, who starts his instructions somewhat shakily with, “OK, hear me out on this.”
Get yourself a tube of pre-made Pillsbury crescent rolls (or—and this is me talking—make your own pie crust), and roll them out individually into triangles. Smear whatever you like inside: cranberry sauce (not mixed with mayonnaise), a little turkey, a hint of leftover stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes. Then roll it all up, and bake it like a “bastardized ham and gruyere croissant” (that’s David talking).
“Now,” he says, “if you want to go wild, you take out the leftover gravy, get under the protective layer of gelantinized fat, warm it up, and now you’ve got a dippy dip for your turkey yum yum rolls.”
Vegans have it rough on Thanksgiving. Our office representative, Operations Manager Dennis Dean, is always a good sport; he even makes a turkey on occasion for his friends and family.
The day after, he likes to make a peanut butter sandwich with “my mom’s cranberry sauce.” That’s sweet.
Dennis also recommends making potato tacos out of leftover mashed potatoes: stir in whatever seasoning you have on hand (adobo, sazon, garlic, onion, chili, cumin, etc.), scoop it onto corn tortillas, then fold in half and fry.
Bubble and Squeak
Such a cute name for this suggestion from Lindsey Dobruck, the excellent cook and wife of breaking news Editor Jeremiah Dobruck.
The instructions: “Smoosh” together all the vegetable sides—mashed potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts—into patties, then fry them in a pan. Top with a sunnyside-up egg and some bacon “for a nice artery-clogging breakfast,” she suggests.
This is a dish made for “winging it,” but if you need some directions, chef Jamie Oliver has a recipe.
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