tips & tricks
REIMAGINING THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS
Delicious ideas that are a departure from tradition.
WRITTEN BY ANN LINDEMANN
PHOTOS BY TY O'NEIL
Personal chef Tim Meevasin prepares turkey stock and ingredients for a creative twist on Thanksgiving leftovers.
It seems everyone has a strong opinion on how to repurpose day-after Thanksgiving surplus. Some don’t stray far from the iconic mayo-slathered turkey sandwich or a simple reheated redux of the feast.
However, we heard from professional chefs whose suggestions may make even the most die-hard leftover purists change their minds.
Bowl of soul
Adding chopped ingredients to the stock
Because Reno personal chef Tim Meevasin’s entire family migrated from Thailand in the 1970s, the Thanksgiving menu was interpreted a bit differently.
“We never did a traditional bird,” he recalls. “Instead, our table was filled with jasmine rice, spice-laden curries, aromatic noodles, and lots of skewered meat. We celebrated the meaning and significance of the holiday, but there was no turkey and gravy.”
These days, Meevasin says, he craves variety after the traditional “roasted bird, taters, green beans, and pie” feast.
“I think the biggest flaw with leftover turkey recipes is that you’re working with a protein that is already fully cooked,” he explains. “Then you are repurposing that protein and basically recooking it again, thus yielding a very overcooked product.”
His solution to this dilemma is making a stock from the turkey carcass, which pulls out much of the delicious flavor from the meat and bones without dealing with any overcooked protein.
“You can really do anything with a great stock once it’s finished,” Meevasin says. “In this case, I make Thai-spiced ramen with shrimp. It’s a refreshingly spicy bowl of soul food.”
Turkey ’n waffles, anyone?
Devon Fennessy, aka The Saucy Culinarian, offers a different take on Turkey Day leftovers. The South Lake Tahoe-based personal chef is a cheerleader for the luscious remains of the day.
“Eat every last morsel!” Fennessy urges. “Thanksgiving is a meal of intricate planning, a marathon of cooking, memories made with family and friends, and that proud moment when all the food is finally served. The leftovers are far too valuable to waste.”
How does she avoid this waste?
“I love to experiment with ways to utilize the leftovers like potato pancakes from the mashed potato leftovers, a pumpkin pie milkshake, or even croque madame,” Fennessy says.
Her leftover stuffing waffle recipe is a result of her creative culinary experimentations.
Regardless of one’s leftover preferences, both chefs encourage readers to enjoy the feast.
“I’ve always looked at holiday dinner parties as a wonderful excuse to overeat and drink with friends and family and really enjoy the best things in life,” Meevasin concludes.
Lake Tahoe-based writer Ann Lindemann’s Thanksgiving meal and day-after leftovers will include her birthday cake this year.
Personal chef Tim Meevasin
775-815-1614 • Personalcheftim.com
The Saucy Culinarian, Devon Fennessy
530-314-1489 • Thesaucyculinarian.com
Spicy Thai Shrimp Ramen Soup with Turkey Stock
(courtesy of Tim Meevasin, personal chef in Reno. Serves 4)
Spicy Thai shrimp ramen soup with turkey stock
This recipe features many aromatics from Thai cuisine. Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t worked with these exotic ingredients, Meevasin says. Ingredients can be found locally at Whole Foods Market, Raley’s, and your local Asian market.
Shrimp poached in the stock
Meevasin says the stock is very simple and straightforward to make, but the main ingredient is time (about 3 hours).
Turkey carcass (Meevasin likes to add any random chicken bones he has in the freezer, too)
1 package fresh egg noodles
3 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
4 to 5 kaffir lime leaves
2 stalks lemongrass
Fresh ginger root (1 thumb-sized knob, cut into thin slices)
1 to 2 Thai chiles, split lengthwise (scale up or down as desired)
4 carrots, medium diced
4 celery ribs, medium diced
2 yellow onions, medium diced
2 tablespoons fried garlic, for garnish
¼ bunch of cilantro, minced
2 stems green onions, finely slivered
2 cups bean sprouts
2 pounds peeled, deveined, raw shrimp (save peels for the stock, too)
Salt, to taste
In roasting pan, roast bones on high heat in oven until golden brown and caramelized (about 20 minutes). This gives stock a deep, rich color and great depth of flavor. Once bones are golden, pop them into a large, empty stockpot. Add your diced carrots, celery, and onions to the same roasting pan and roast until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Place all roasted veggies in stock pot with bones.
Using cold water, cover bones and veggies completely. Bring to gentle simmer (lazy bubble) on stove top and adjust heat so stock will remain at a gentle bubble. Skim off any “scum” that floats to the top in the first 15 minutes of stock reaching simmer. Then let simmer for 3 hours.
One hour before end of 3-hour simmer time, add all aromatics (kaffir lime, peppercorns, lemongrass, ginger, chili) and shrimp shells. Adding aromatics too soon actually will lessen their effect. Strain stock. (Meevasin says, “Chefs like to use cheesecloth placed in large, wire-mesh strainer to ensure we get the cleanest, clearest stock possible.”) Then discard all bones, meat, veggies, and aromatics.
Preparing Thai chiles, Kaffir lime leaves, and raw Jalapenos for the soup
“They have done their job and have no flavor left in them. You should be left with a beautiful liquid full of flavor,” Meevasin says. “Taste and then season with salt at the end. Never add salt to the stock in the beginning, because it will reduce, and you will be left with a salty mess, and all of your friends will make fun of you.”
To assemble ramen
Keep strained stock simmering and add shrimp, poaching at a simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. In separate pot, boil fresh egg noodles until al dente (1 to 2 minutes) and place in large bowl. Pour stock over noodles and garnish with fried fresh garlic, cilantro, green onions, shrimp, and bean sprouts.
Leftover Stuffing Waffles ’n Turkey
(courtesy of Devon Fennessy, chef, The Saucy Culinarian in South Lake Tahoe. Serves 4)
4 cups leftover stuffing (best without large vegetable chunks)
2 large eggs
Chicken or turkey broth (enough to moisten mixture)
Leftover turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce for serving
Heat waffle iron and grease with cooking spray.
Mix stuffing and eggs in a bowl. Add in stock, ¼ cup at a time, until stuffing mixture is well moistened. Spread thin layer of mixture on waffle iron and cook until golden brown.
Serve with warmed-up, leftover turkey and cranberry sauce and gravy on the side.