Creative ways to flesh out Thanksgiving leftovers

To some people, the best part about Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers.

Growing up in my house, I looked forward to the leftover cornbread dressing.

Some folks call it stuffing. But for our family, the difference between dressing and stuffing was like the difference between prime rib and a Big Mac.

I’d slice a hearty slab of the cold dressing and put it in a skillet medium-hot with bubbling butter. Once the log-o-dressing was suitably brown, I would flip it to crisp the other side.

In another skillet, heat up some turkey, properly soaked in gravy. When everything was finished, I’d plate the dressing, then pour the turkey and gravy over the dressing. Voila! An open-faced turkey sandwich.

Diced, sliced, wet or dry

It’s likely that everyone has a favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers.

Some folks love Mexican food. So what’s wrong with turkey tacos? Grab some tortillas, dice up some of that turkey, garnish with a little lettuce and cheese, maybe some salsa.

Prefer your Mexican food saucy? Then try turkey enchiladas. Green or red sauce will do, hold the lettuce, add more cheese, then add some black olives. When it’s finished baking, garnish with some sour cream.

If you need salad with your Mexican food, go for it. After the traditional carb-heavy Thanksgiving, maybe it’s time for a little ruffage in the diet.

Prefer a more hearty salad? Fine, make a turkey salad, and garnish with cranberry sauce and a few nuts.

Even upside-down

Fond of casserole? How about a Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie? Instead of the red meat, use chunks of turkey, toss in some veggies, mix in some gravy and top with some of the leftover mashed potatoes. It’s almost like an upside-down turkey pot pie.

Come Sunday, you may be sick and tired of hot turkey.

Which means it’s time to go cold turkey. As in turkey salad sandwiches. Dice up turkey, add some onion, celery, a little mayo. Before adding the top slice of bread, top the mixture with a little stuffing and cranberry sauce and you’ve got the ultimate Thanksgiving sandwich.

If cold turkey is not your deal, then how about grilled turkey and cheese?

Instead of tuna casserole, how about turkey casserole? Or have turkey with pasta? How about turkey soup? And for folks with a more militaristic palate, how about turkey SOS?

No shortage of things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Taters

Granted, most of these leftover ideas have been turkey-centric. But that’s because a 25-pound bird is more common than a 25-pound bowl of spuds.

Speaking of spuds, make some potato pancakes by adding some bread crumbs and an egg to bind the mixture. In fact, try sweet potato pancakes, if so inclined. Probably need more bread crumbs with the sweet taters. And don’t forget to season to taste. Potatoes always need a little pick-me-up.

Yup, no shortage of things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm4

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