Thanksgiving Leftovers: The Denouement

Maybe you come from a family that prepares just the right amount of food to feed everyone. I’ve always admired that. That has never happened in my house. If there isn’t enough to feed three to four to ten people who “drop by” then there “isn’t enough. Couple that with decades of restaurant production cooking and you have leftovers. With Thanksgiving it’s not usually an issue since we really love the food and are happy to continue eating it until it’s gone. However, that doesn’t normally extend to pumpkin pie filling, my “oops” of this past holiday. Instead of making regular pie dough for my pumpkin pies I used a gingerbread cookie crumb crust. This year I must have piled it into the pans thicker than usual because my doubled filling recipe filled two pie pans and I still had enough for another pie. So today I looked at a quart jar of pumpkin pie filling in the fridge and wondered what I could do with it.

Turning one food into something else is my specialty.  Everything is mise en place in my kitchen.  The thought of starting from scratch everyday almost never occurs to me.  Even a blob of leftover pan drippings can jumpstart a soup.  So Thanksgiving leftovers are a favorite puzzle to solve.

First up, Pumpkin Pancakes. After all, what is pumpkin pie filling but milk (okay half and half), eggs, some sugar, spices and pumpkin puree. All I needed to do was add my handy homemade pancake mix and a little more milk to thin out the batter. Next up, muffins or a quick bread or maybe a soufflé or …

Then Meatballs made with mashed potatoes and stuffing.  The thought of eating the mash and stuffing again after 4 days of working our way through them was just too much, yet I didn’t want to throw such flavor bombs away.  I took out my last package of Lindy and Grundy ground meat from the freezer and made some quick meatballs.  You need soaked bread or a cooked potato for tender meatballs, so what could be better than mashed potatoes and stuffing (with whole chestnuts).  I whizzed up an onion in the blender with a couple of eggs and some parmesan and kneaded the whole mess together.  In short order we had platefuls of tender uber-flavored meatballs napped with a touch of turkey gravy.  The whole chestnuts inside the meatball will be something I do on purpose at some point.

Last, and universally well received we have Turkey Fajitas.  I said in my instagram post of the dish that turkey confit is the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s so true.  Think turkey thigh carnitas and you get the picture.  I took the meat off the bone, shredded it and let it brown on a griddle along with onions, hot and sweet peppers, scallions, baby tomatoes and garlic.  The dish is finished off with salt, chopped fresh cilantro and a tiny touch of Mexican oregano.  Served with tortillas and guacamole.  I think we’re done now.  Except for that cranberry sauce which will be called jam until it’s gone.

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