Don't just reheat Thanksgiving surplus - rethink it

Special to The Washington PostNovember 27, 2013 

Here they come again: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, all the makings of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

It's food we look forward to, then quickly tire of after the feast. Cut-up turkey and its pairings don't seem as attractive the next day, the day after that or (especially) the day after that.

So give your leftovers fresh appeal by re-purposing them. Not in sandwiches or with microwave reheating, but in recipes that will make you embrace the extras you usually feel guilty about not using.

Recipes so good, in fact, that you might deliberately create leftovers just so you can make them.

If you do your Thanksgiving shopping with these dishes in mind, you'll be all set to put them together on the days following the holiday.

The turkey and leftover stuffing will morph into Savory Turkey and Mushroom Bread Pudding.

The bird will also team with squash in Turkey and Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter-Sage Sauce.

Sweet potatoes will join forces with cranberry sauce in Golden Sweet Potato Mold with Cranberry-Grand Marnier Drizzle, and with apples in Creamy Sweet Potato Soup With Crispy Leeks.

That cranberry sauce will make a repeat appearance in Cranberry-Gingersnap Ice Cream Pie.

Golden Sweet Potato Mold With Cranberry-Grand Marnier Drizzle

FOR THE SWEET POTATO MOLD:

5-6 cups leftover sweet potatoes (from 2 pounds sweet potatoes), at room temperature or warmed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped onion (from 1 medium onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

FOR THE CRANBERRY DRIZZLE:

1 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (may substitute additional orange juice)

Serves 10-12.

For the sweet potato mold: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to generously grease a 6-cup mold or, if you don't want to unmold the potatoes, a 2-quart baking dish. Have ready a baking pan large enough to hold the mold or baking dish.

Use a potato masher or fork to mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden brown; reduce the heat if they are darkening too fast. Add the contents of the skillet to the mashed sweet potatoes, then add the milk, eggs, bread crumbs, lemon juice, salt, celery seed, thyme and pepper, and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared mold or baking dish and use a flexible spatula to smooth the top. Set the mold or baking dish into the larger pan and transfer it to the oven. Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the mold is baking, make the cranberry drizzle: Combine the cranberry sauce and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat so that the mixture is barely bubbling. Stir in the Grand Marnier and cook for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, unmold the sweet potato mixture. Spoon some of the drizzle over the potato and pour the remaining drizzle into a serving dish to pass at the table.

Savory Turkey and Mushroom Bread Pudding

1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced

4 large cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 1/2 cups leftover turkey, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

6 cups leftover cooked bread stuffing

Makes 6 entree or 12 side-dish servings.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of softened butter.

Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, parsley, sage and thyme, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing the heat if the mushrooms stick to the pan. Add the turkey, salt and pepper, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half and half of the cheese in a large bowl. Add the stuffing, breaking up any large pieces, and stir until well blended. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the pudding is browned and set in the middle. Serve hot.

Turkey and Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter-Sage Sauce

FOR THE FILLING:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups leftover turkey, cut into small pieces

1 cup mashed leftover squash

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE RAVIOLI:

60 round wonton wrappers (one 12-ounce package)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

Makes about 60 ravioli.

For the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, cook the onion and garlic together until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the turkey, squash, cheese, parsley, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, stirring to combine thoroughly.

For the ravioli: Set out a cooling rack.

Lay out 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface. Place about 1/2 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Working with one wrapper at a time, brush or dab water along the outside edge and fold the wrapper into a semicircle, pressing gently to expel air and seal the edges together. Pick up each ravioli and use your thumb and forefinger to pinch it along the curved edge to assure a tight seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers to use all the filling, placing the filled ravioli on the rack as you work.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Working in 4 batches, add the ravioli and cook for about 4 minutes, until they are tender and rise to the top. Use a large slotted spoon or skimmer basket to gently lift the ravioli from the water and transfer them to the rack.

When all of the ravioli are cooked, heat the butter and sage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ravioli and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the pecans. (If the skillet isn't large enough to hold and comfortably coat all of the ravioli at once, place the ravioli on the serving platter and pour the Brown Butter-Sage Sauce over them, tossing gently to coat, then sprinkle with the pecans.)

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup With Crispy Leeks

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups peeled, cored and chopped tart apples, such as Granny Smith

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

4 cups mashed sweet potatoes

4 cups whole milk

2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken or turkey broth

1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white part only (from 2-3 medium leeks), rinsed well

1/4 cup chopped or snipped chives

Makes 10 cups.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the apples, garlic, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are golden brown and softened. Transfer to a food processor or blender and return the saucepan to the stove top (not over heat).

Add the mashed sweet potatoes to the food processor or blender, and puree until very smooth. (If using a blender, you might have to do this in batches.) Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the milk and broth and cook over medium-high heat, whisking until the soup is thoroughly blended and lump-free. Bring it to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat so it is just barely bubbling.

While the soup is cooking, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add the leeks and cook until they are golden brown and slightly crisped, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often.

Serve the soup hot, sprinkled with crispy leeks and chives.

Cranberry-Gingersnap Ice Cream Pie

11/4 cups crushed gingersnaps (about 25 cookies)

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 quart vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt for a lighter pie)

1 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon freshly grated tangerine or orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Process the gingersnaps in a food processor or blender until they are the texture of cornmeal. (If using a blender, you might have to do this in batches.) Transfer to a medium mixing bowl, add the butter and use your fingers to combine thoroughly. Firmly press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, lining the bottom and sides, and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

Allow the ice cream to soften for 10 to 15 minutes so it will be easier to spread.

While the ice cream is softening, combine the cranberry sauce, sugar, zest and vanilla extract in a medium bowl to make the topping.

Fill the crust with the ice cream, leveling and smoothing the top. Freeze for at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours, until the ice cream is firm.

Remove the pie from the freezer 15 to 30 minutes before serving (depending on how long the pie has been frozen) to soften a bit.

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