To the victor go the spoils; to the host go the leftovers.
One of the great rewards of preparing a Thanksgiving feast is getting first dibs on the leftovers. But guests don't have to resort to sneaking potatoes into their purses to extend the feast beyond the main meal.
Etiquette expert Lizzie Post says those who dine away from home for the holiday can boost their odds of scoring a doggie bag by bringing a side dish to share and helping their host clean up.
Then, as the host begins to put the food away, innocently inquire: "Oh! Do you want me to start packing this up for people to take home for leftovers?"
"Offer it as a suggestion rather than asking," says Post, a great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post who works at the Emily Post Institute in Vermont. "It gives them a chance to say what they were hoping to do with the leftovers without you just asking and putting them on the spot."
Once the delicate task of securing leftovers is achieved, the options are nearly limitless.
Julie Grimes, associate food editor at Cooking Light magazine, says she likes to use leftovers in unexpected ways to make post-holiday meals feel fresh and exciting. The easiest way to accomplish that is to rely on ethnic flavors, she says.
"Since Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday and the fare typically reflects this fact, I like to spice up the leftovers with flavors from Asia, France or Latin America for a change of pace," she says.
Some of her favorite recipes in recent years include turkey-mushroom bread pudding, turkey fried rice and turkey pho, a take on Vietnamese noodle soup.
"Remember that many ethnic foods rely on ingredients with strong pungent flavors, such as spice pastes or fish sauce, and a little goes a long way," she says. "Combine leftovers with just a few powerful ingredients for a fresh twist on yesterday's meal."
Kemp Minifie, executive food editor at Gourmet magazine, also recommends taking an international approach to leftovers. Turkey in particular lends itself to strong flavors and can stand in for chicken and even pork in many recipes.
"It's a blank canvas," she says. "It's the white sheet of paper you can do all kinds of things to."
Her magazine's November issue includes a recipe for turkey jook, a Chinese rice porridge with turkey and ginger. Just throw the turkey carcass in with some rice, stock, ginger and scallions. Serve it drizzled with sesame oil, fresh scallions and shreds of ginger.
"It is so warming and satisfying," Minifie says.
But recognizing the reality that most people won't venture beyond sandwiches, the magazine also includes two turkey sandwich recipes, including one that adds cranberry sauce. A blue cheese butter offsets the sweetness of the sauce and gives the sandwich a more sophisticated taste.
Minifie says she's crazy for smoked paprika, so she'll probably find a way to incorporate the spice into her leftovers this year. And she always makes turkey tetrazzini because it reminds her of the casseroles her mother used to make.
But she also points out the obvious: simply piling a bunch of leftovers on a plate and replicating the original meal can taste as good if not better the next day.
"My favorite meal of the Thanksgiving weekend is the day after, when you reheat everything," she says. "The turkey has had time to sit so it's firmed up and it's much easier to get thin slices of the breast meat. The gravy tastes better. ... You're getting all the good stuff without having to do any work."
This easy breakfast hash is a delicious way to use up some of that leftover turkey. To speed things up, you could substitute frozen hash brown potatoes for the boiled potatoes called for.
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cubanelle peppers (Italian green frying peppers), seeded and chopped
1 cup shredded cooked turkey, preferably dark meat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large eggs
Place the potatoes in a large stockpot, then cover with enough cold water to cover by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just tender.
Drain the potatoes and let cool slightly.
While the potatoes cool, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and peppers and saute until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and coarsely grate them with a box grater.
Add the potatoes, turkey, salt and pepper to the skillet, then cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the hash to serving plates.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, fry the eggs. Serve 1 egg over each serving of hash.
— November 2008 issue of Gourmet magazineTURKEY FRIED RICE
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons turkey stock or chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup sliced scallions
1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
5 cups cooked long-grain white rice, chilled
4 cups chopped cooked turkey (light and dark meat)
2 cups leftover green peas or frozen peas, thawed
1 cup leftover carrots or frozen carrots, thawed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, turkey stock, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic sauce, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the canola oil. Add the cabbage, scallions and ginger, then saute for 3 minutes, or until tender.
Add the rice, turkey, peas, and carrots, then saute for another 3 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Stir in soy sauce mixture and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
— Cooking Light magazine
SHREDDED TURKEY AND ARUGULA CAESAR SALAD WITH GRILLED CROUTONS
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 1/4 pound baby arugula (about 5 cups loosely packed), washed and dried
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 slices French baguette, cut 1 inch thick on an extreme diagonal
2 cups shredded cooked turkey
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Heat a gas grill or the broiler. Place the arugula in a large bowl, then cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate.
In a blender, combine the lemon juice and zest, anchovies, garlic, peppercorns, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, the mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend thoroughly until most of the peppercorns are well broken up and the dressing is emulsified.
Add 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and blend to incorporate. Leave the dressing in the blender.
Brush the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then season each slice with salt. Grill or broil the bread until dark around the edges and golden brown at the center, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
If desired, cut each bread slice into 10 cubes. The bread also can be served whole.
Pulse the dressing in the blender. Add a bit of the dressing to the arugula and toss to coat.
Divide the arugula among 4 serving plates and sprinkle with some of the remaining Parmesan.
In a medium bowl, toss the turkey with the remaining dressing, then divide it between the plates of arugula. Sprinkle with Parmesan and arrange the croutons and tomatoes around the salad.
(Recipe from "How to Cook a Turkey and All the Other Trimmings," by the editors of Fine Cooking magazine, Taunton Press, 2007)