kosher kitchen

The special blessing of Thanksgiving leftovers


In a Norman Rockwell painting of a grandmother holding a platter filled with what must be a 30-pound turkey, the “everyone’s-grandmother” has rosy cheeks a loving smile and, apparently, the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Everyone does not necessarily have memories of their grandmother making Thanksgiving dinner. I cannot ever remember either of my grandmothers making one. My maternal grandmother was born in America; she was pampered all her life, widowed by the age of 50, and fed her four children and 13 grandchildren — at least on weekends and holidays — for the rest of her life.

My paternal grandmother was born in Belarus and emigrated here as an adult. She spoke a lot of Yiddish and by the time I was 3, I was convinced my name was “shayna maidel.” She cooked for us for every holiday — that is, every one that began with lighting candles at sundown. She gladly turned Thanksgiving over to “the kids.”

That meant a lot of Thanksgivings at lots of relatives houses throughout the area. It also meant no Thanksgiving leftovers and I had a feeling — based on what my friends said — that I was missing out on something!

Eventually, Thanksgiving landed at our house and what became my favorite part of the holiday happened long after the guests were gone and the good dishes put away. At about 8 o’clock, my dad would take out the turkey carcass (all large pieces of leftover turkey had been sliced and wrapped separately) and we would sit at the table and begin the fine art of stripping the carcass of all edible scraps. My dad would make us laugh — he was the funniest person I ever knew — and we would eat and talk far into the night. The next day, there would be a rather pathetic looking turkey skeleton in the refrigerator, sometimes decorated or comically posed.

So, don’t discard that carcass. You CAN make soup, but I much prefer a carcass, some napkins and my kids all together. You’d be surprised how talkative teens can get while gathered round those turkey bones.

Pulled Turkey Barbecue Sandwiches (Meat)

1 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. (generous) dark brown sugar

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

OPTIONAL: cayenne pepper or Tabasco Sauce for heat

2 to 3 cups shredded cooked turkey (light and dark meat. 

Place the tomato puree in a medium saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add any heat you like and taste and adjust sugar and cayenne.

Shred the turkey with a fork and add to the sauce. Simmer for about 5 more minutes or until the turkey is heated through. Makes enough for about 4 sandwiches.

Turkey Sub Italiano (Meat)

1 long Italian or chiabatta bread, about 15 to18 inches long

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 to 3 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press

1 tsp. Italian seasoning or oregano (Italian seasoning is best)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/3 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 red onion, very thinly sliced

1/2 to 1 head lettuce, any kind, shredded or torn into pieces

1 red or green pepper, cut in half and very thinly sliced 

Turkey, sliced thinly, dark and white meat

1 lb. thinly sliced bologna or any other meat you like such as thinly sliced roasted beef or even corned beef or a mix

Garnish with hot peppers, olives, red pepper flakes.

Cut the bread in half lengthwise but do not cut completely through. Leave one side hinged. Pull out some of the bread’s interior, so that there is a hollow in both sides.(Use the insides to make homemade croutons.) Set aside.

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, seasoning, salt and pepper together in a small cup. Use a spoon and drizzle the dressing over both sides of the bread.

Place the lettuce in one side of the bread. Top with the meats and then the sliced onions, pepper, tomatoes and any garnishes you like. Close the bread over the top and gently press down. Cut 2 to 3 inc hslices on the diagonal. Serves 4 to 6.

Turkey Scaloppini with Mushroom Sauce (Meat)

This is a variation of an Italian dish usually made with veal. It does not remotely taste like leftovers.

8 turkey slices from the breast, about 1/2-inch thick and about 4 to 5 inches across.

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

10 ounces white mushrooms sliced (you can also use baby bella or a mix)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Fresh thyme, chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup leftover turkey gravy

1/2 cup unbleached flour

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 extra-large eggs

1/4 to 1/2 cup canola oil

Leftover cranberry sauce

Salad of your choice

Slice the turkey and set aside. Heat a skillet and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and mix. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have absorbed all the liquid. Add the thyme and heat through. Add the wine and the gravy and heat until bubbly. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Set aside.

Heat another large skillet and add half the canola oil. Heat until the oil gets shimmery. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl. Place the flour in the bowl and mix with the garlic and onion powders. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl.

Dip a turkey slice in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip to coat in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Place in the hot oil and repeat with the rest of the slices. Cook until golden brown, turn and cook on the other side until golden. Place on a paper towel lined plate.

Place two slices on a plate, add the salad (maybe some other leftovers) and drizzle the gravy over the turkey. Serves 4.

NOTE: To save some calories, you can omit the gravy and just use the sautéed mushrooms.

Turkey Vegetable Soup with Angel Hair Pasta (Meat)

You can make this even if the turkey carcass has been picked clean. Use turkey broth or chicken broth if there is really no meat on the bones.

1 turkey carcass plus bones

1-1/2 quarts turkey, chicken, or veggie broth, or water

2 large onions, whole, 1 peeled, one washed and unpeeled.

3 leeks, white part only

1 lb. carrots, cut into small pieces

4 stalks celery, cut into small pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 parsnip, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced

1 to 9 ounce package fresh angel hair pasta

OPTIONAL: cayenne pepper to taste

1 can whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and diced

Carefully break up the turkey carcass to fit in a large stock pot. Add the stock or water, leeks and onions, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. 

Carefully remove the carcass and bones from the soup and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. If you want to add the tomatoes, add them just after removing the bones from the soup. Remove the turkey from the cooled bones and return the meat to the soup. Add the parsley, salt and pepper.

Add the angel hair pasta, cook until the pasta is al dente (about 2 to 3 minutes) and serve. Be careful to remove the Bay leaves before serving.

Sweet Potato Soufflé (Pareve)

This is another recipe that does not taste like leftovers.

3 cups leftover sweet potatoes

4 extra-large eggs

4 Tbsp. pareve trans-fat-free margarine, melted

2 Tbsp. rumor amaretto or peach liqueur (most flavors word except coffee/chocolate)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. sugar

OPTIONAL: You can add some finely chopped pecans and cranberries, if you like, about a half-cup total.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well.

Generously grease a quiche dish or a 2-quart casserole dish or soufflé dish. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle as much as you like over the top of the soufflé.

Place in the oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Cranberry Trifle Dessert (Dairy)

A great way to embellish vanilla yogurt or ice cream!

1 cup pomegranate juice or cranberry juice

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cooked cranberry sauce (use plain, spiced, apple or berry cranberry sauce)

1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2 inch) pound cake or angel cake or even sugar cookies

1/2 cup chilled heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

Vanilla Ice Cream or Yogurt

Place the juice and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2. Remove from heat to cool

Soften the cranberry sauce f it has jelled and is firm. You can do this in the microwave in 15 second bursts until just softened, but not hot.

Slice the cake and break up the pieces. Set aside.

Place the chilled cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until frothy. Add the extracts and add the sugar by spooonfuls while still beating, and beat until stiff peaks form.

Place a layer of cake on the bottom of a deep bowl or trifle bowl. Drizzle with some of the cranberry juice sauce.

Spoon cranberry sauce over the cake and add some spoons of ice cream. Repeat. Top with the whipped cream and a dollop of cranberry sauce. Cover the bowl and freeze for about 30 minutes. Serves 6 to 10.

NOTE: Want simpler? Heat the cranberry sauce and serve over vanilla ice cream!