Chefs’ Picks: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Photo by: Anjali Pinto ©Anjali Pinto, Lettuce Entertain You

Anjali Pinto, Anjali Pinto, Lettuce Entertain You

Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family, friends and food, glorious food. It seems that no matter the size of the bird or the number of sides on the table, the holiday spread stretches into at least the next day or two. But what to do with the leftover turkey, sweet potatoes and cornbread? These chefs have the answer: turn them into creative breakfast and lunch items for the next day.

Beyond-Basic Breakfast

Chef Jeff Mahin is a master of the morning meal, as evidenced by the bevy of brunch and breakfast options offered at his restaurants Stella Barra Pizzeria, Summer House Santa Monica, M Street Kitchen and Do-Rite Donuts. So it’s no surprise that Mahin transforms his Thanksgiving leftovers into a stepped-up breakfast sandwich. He amps up the typical bacon and eggs by pulling in Thanksgiving turkey, creamy Havarti cheese and tangy whole-grain mustard.

Turkey Breakfast Sandwich


1 English muffin

1 slice of tomato

1/2 avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 slice Havarti cheese

4 ounces turkey (shaved thin)

2 strips of bacon

2 eggs

1 tablespoon butter


Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together until very well combined. Over medium heat, add the butter to a nonstick pan. Once butter has melted, add eggs and softly scramble while they cook. Just before the eggs are completely finished cooking, season with salt and place the cheese on top. Remove the pan from the stove, as the eggs will continue cooking and the cheese will melt on its own.

Place another nonstick pan on the stove, and over high heat add the thinly sliced turkey. Sear each side for about a minute until the turkey slices are hot and charred. Remove the turkey from pan. Add bacon to the pan and cook until crispy.

While the bacon is cooking, toast your English muffin and then add mayo and mustard on each side. Add salted tomato, turkey, cheesy eggs, avocado slices and the cooked bacon. Place the other half of the English muffin on top and dig in for a deliciously messy breakfast sandwich.

Meatless Marvel

Vegetarians need not be left out of the Thanksgiving leftovers — it’s not all about the bird, after all. ’Tis also the season for root vegetables, and if you have any left on your dinner table, they make the perfect addition to a pot pie. Chef Mo L’Esperance of Tiburon Tavern is a fan of this post-festivities dish, which she pairs with a light fennel and celery salad to balance out the richness.

Root Vegetable Pot Pie



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons ice water


To make the dough, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter in your food processor until butter is incorporated. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse again to combine.

*Note: It is very important to not overmix this dough; just a few quick pulses should do the trick.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead together until smooth again (a very quick couple of turns and you are done). Form into a 1-inch-thick disk and wrap the dough in plastic film.

Place in the fridge for 1 hour. Once dough is chilled, roll it out until it has a 1/4-inch thickness. Then use a pizza cutter to cut circles out that are slightly larger than your oven-safe bowls.

Separate the cut-out disks with parchment paper and place back in the fridge until the filling is ready (you can even make the dough the day before you plan to serve the pies and store the disks in the fridge overnight).



1 cup chopped celery root

1 cup chopped carrot

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped parsnip

1 cup chopped parsley root

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups white wine

3 quarts vegetable stock

3 sprigs rosemary

1/2 bunch thyme

2 sprigs tarragon

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and black pepper to taste


For the filling, roughly chop the root vegetables into bite-size pieces, then toss them with the extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place vegetables in a single layer on a sheet tray and roast in the oven at 350 degrees F until tender, which should take about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables.

Tie the herbs together with a piece of kitchen twine and set aside. In a large stockpot, sweat the onion and garlic down in the butter, add the wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the tied herbs. Thicken the mixture with either a traditional roux, cornstarch or arrowroot. When you have achieved the consistency you want, add the roasted root vegetables to the mix and stir together. Season to taste.

Ladle the pie filling into oven-safe bowls and top with the precut dough top. Press the sides down so the dough is on the bowl. Brush with a little egg wash and pierce the middle of the dough all the way through to allow the filling to vent.

Place the filled bowls on a sheet tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. You are baking just the dough, so when it is golden-brown, it is ready.

*Note: A quicker way to prepare the pot pies is to cook the dough disks on a sheet tray until golden and then place on top of your filled bowls.

Flavorful Filling

Root and Bone is located in New York City, but it churns out food that channels the flavors of the South. Biscuits, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits are some of the dishes you’ll find on the menu. Chef Jeff McInnis prepares a full-scale Thanksgiving menu at the restaurant, which pretty much guarantees the kitchen will be crammed with leftovers the next day.

To make use of three popular table items — turkey, cranberry and sweet potato — he creates empanada-like turnovers that are perfect right out of the oven or to munch on throughout the day.

Turkey, Cranberry and Sweet Potato Turnovers

Makes 12 turnovers


3 cups cooked turkey, chopped

3/4 cup mashed sweet potato, cold

3/4 cup cranberry sauce, cold

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar


Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated.

Pour mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Take dough and roll out into one large rectangle. Using a 5-inch round cutter, punch out 12 pieces. Place about 1/4 cup turkey, 1 tablespoon sweet potato and 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce onto center of each dough round.

Using pastry brush (or fingers), gently brush edge of each round with beaten egg white. Fold dough round in half to cover filling; press edge together to seal, using a fork. Lightly brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg yolk. Make sure to grease the pan or lay down nonstick material onto baking sheets.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

Simple Sandwich

Barbecue master Myron Mixon prefers to keep it simple in the kitchen when it comes to turkey-day leftovers. For Mixon, who has won quite a few pitmaster competitions, the best way to use up that Thanksgiving bird is to keep it simple with a turkey salad. This creamy dish is similar to a standard chicken version, as the bird is combined with red grapes and pecans, along with green apple for a touch of tartness and crunch.

Turkey Salad Sandwich

Yield: 4 sandwiches


4 cups leftover (pulled) turkey, white and dark meat

1 cup mayonnaise, homemade or your preferred brand

1 cup chopped Granny Smith or another type of tart apple

1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 cup halved seedless red grapes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 slices white bread

Garnishes (optional): iceberg lettuce, tomato slices and red onion slices


In a large bowl, combine the turkey, mayonnaise, apple, pecans, hard-boiled eggs and grapes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix the turkey salad together, taking care to thoroughly combine all the ingredients.

Scoop about one-quarter of the turkey salad and place it in the center of one slice of the white bread. Then use a spoon to spread it around gently to cover the whole slice of bread. Top with whichever garnishes you like, and place the other slice of bread on top to complete the sandwich. Repeat these same steps with the other slices of bread to make more sandwiches.

Photography courtesy of Anjali Pinto, Tiburon Tavern, Root and Bone and Myron Mixon

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