Any chef worth their salt (in moderate amounts, please) loves a holiday that is so totally focused on food. So, who better to tap into for new ideas for your own celebrations--including how to use up all that turkey AFTER the big day:
Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group - New Orleans, LA
“I love Thanksgiving, not because of the dinner, but because it’s the one time of the year I can make Turkey Gumbo. I combine the moist turkey meat and spicy Andouille sausage to make a flavorful gumbo. The key to its robust flavor is the stock from the turkey bones. Don’t tell the restaurants, but it’s the best gumbo I’ll make all year.”
Ralph Brennan, President, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group - New Orleans, LA
“I have to stay true to New Orleans—and I make Turkey Po’Boys. Sliced turkey, gravy, a little mayo, and lots of cranberry sauce, all piled high on French bread that’s been toasted ever so slightly. The turkey always tastes better the next day.”
Chris Clime, Chef de Cuisine, PassionFish - Reston, VA
“Ok, everyone has their own way of using leftover turkey, but I bet you have not reheated your stuffing by frying. I slice the turkey really thin, and then reheat it up in the gravy, almost like making a French dip. Then I take the cold stuffing and form them into thin patties, and fry them with a little turkey skin until they’re crispy. Take all of the components, and assemble them on French bread along with big dollops of cranberry chutney and Coleman’s Mustard Aioli. There is no such thing as too much gravy, so keep the reserve jus just close enough for dipping.”
David Guas, Owner and Chef, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery - Arlington, VA
“My boys and I love to make Mini Turkey Melts as the next day’s meal. They’re like a homespun panini-pain perdu of sorts. I take all of yesterday’s best—French bread (New Orleans style, of course) sliced thin, then lightly lather it with whipped honey butter (just 1 teaspoon of honey with 2 tablespoons of butter) on the outside. Inside spread some dressing, turkey, homemade (not so sweet) cranberry relish, then add slices of gouda cheese for the finish. Toast each side lightly in a nonstick pan, press down to flatten, and when you see the gouda oozing out the sides, then it’s read to chow down.
Chris Jakubiec, Executive Chef, Plume of The Jefferson - Washington, DC
“Thanksgiving may be all-American, but the next day it calls for a Mexican fiesta with Turkey Burritos! I cannot get enough of Mexican cuisine, and the family goes along with it. Anything can go in a burrito, but you have to have the right combination. orn and onions are all you need to make it Turkey Day all over again. Buen provecho!”
Lee Richardson, Executive Chef, Ashley’s at The Capital Hotel - Little Rock, AR
“The best part about Thanksgiving is the turkey, so why mess with a good thing? I take the leftover turkey meat and dressing then layer it neatly on a piece of white bread. Just before you close, slather the second slice with warm gravy. And all the meat picked over just makes for a tasty gumbo."
Peter Smith, Executive Chef and Owner, PS7’s - Washington, DC
“Our leftover turkey goes through a multi-step process. Step 1: We lovingly simmer the carcass with mirepoix, wine, herbs, spices, and water to make a super rich broth. While that’s brewing, we move on to Step 2: Taking a slice of Nana Masi’s Italian Sausage Stuffing (that’s almost like a bread pudding when cold) and sauté with some unsalted butter. Step 3: Top the stuffing with turkey meat, a touch of cranberry sauce, and a bit of gravy. Step 4: Eat, nap, and repeat.”
Brant Tesky, Chef de Cuisine, Acadiana - Washington, DC
“The turkey on Thanksgiving day is a beautiful presentation, but when the family is finished with it all the glamour is gone. The key to bringing it back to its glory is being creative with its tasty morsels. Grind up the turkey, and pan sauté it with diced potatoes and veggies to make a turkey hash in the morning. Serve that with runny poached eggs, and little gravy on top, and it’s a breakfast that’s tough to have only once a year.”
Jeff Tunks, Owner and Chef, Passion Food Hospitality Group (Acadiana, Burger, Tap & Shake, Ceiba, DC Coast, District Commons, PassionFish) - Washington, DC
“’Grandma’s Carcass Soup’—that says it all. Take your extra turkey meat, simmer it in chicken stock, add diced mirepoix [combo of celery, carrots, and onions,] fresh herbs, and then finish it off with cooked rice. The recipe is hers, but not the Thanksgiving turkey, so keep that to yourself.”
Robert Wiedmaier, Owner and Chef, Marcel’s – Brasserie Beck – Mussel Bar - Washington, DC
“At our table it is all about celebrating fowl, so we serve the gambit. Turkey, duck, goose, and whatever else was in range on the field. Leftover turkey meat and leftover duck meat, ground with onion, garlic, paprika, chili powder, kidney beans, stewed tomatoes, and chicken stock. All I can smell is the aroma of chili. Let it all simmer together in a crock pot and keep on the stove all day, as there is no need for the formality of another sit-down meal.”
Tucker Yoder, Executive Chef, The Clifton Inn - Charlottesville, VA
“In our neck of the woods, the snow has touched the ground and hearty dishes become staples on my family table. And it is hard to not to be inspired by the customs of our forefathers. Thick soups and pot pies come to mind. For some Southern goodness, cover the soups with homemade biscuits and bake it. Then ponder why this meal is only served once a year.”
Have your own ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers? Let us know!