The Leftovers

Prepare your tupperware: this year, turn your stuffing into croutons, transform mashed potatoes into dip (!?!), and stuff pitas with turkey for epic shawarma sandwiches.

By Andy Baraghani
Photos by Elizabeth Cecil
Above Image | Croque-Madam with cranberry-mustard relish (recipe below).

When I first heard they were making a TV show called The Leftovers, I was psyched. Finally, my favorite genre of food was getting its due, with Justin Theroux in the lead, no less. Not a lot of people can pull off day-old mashed potatoes, I thought, but Justin can. So you can imagine my dejection when I found out that he would not, in fact, be making turkey banh mi and green-bean-casserole fried rice on Sunday nights on HBO. Our loss!

Now where was I? Oh yeah, mashed potatoes. They're great on Day One. But the truth is, they're even better on Day Two, drizzled with olive oil and treated as a dip (see Mashed Potato Skordalia). In all honesty, the entire Americana jamboree is better the next day, when you can eat without the pressure of remembering cousins' names, taking a polite but unwanted portion of salad, or wearing pants. Instead of filling up on rolls and then eating to the point of physical exhaustion, leftovers allow you to enjoy the best parts of the meal on your own schedule, which should be spread out over at least a week.

See, what “one-and-done” leftovers haters don't understand is that transforming the feast you spent a week preparing into a casual lunch the next day is a way to respect and honor all the work, love, and sour cream that went into it. Also because nothing saves dry turkey breast like a miso-and-soy-sauce dressing (see Spicy Cabbage Salad with Turkey and Peanuts). Double-also because you get to work on your Chopped skills (see Winter Panzanella with Stuffing Croutons). If the holidays are all about eating in excess, napping in excess, wearing sweatpants in excess, and reminding your mom that you do in fact have your act together (in excess), why would you want that for only one night?

Croque-Madame with Cranberry-Mustard Relish


You know how the cheese sometimes oozes out of a grilled cheese while it's cooking and gets all brown and crunchy when it hits the skillet? Well, this open-face sandwich is dedicated to making that happen on purpose.

  • 1/3 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 1/2″-thick slices Pullman or other white bread
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 8 oz. aged white cheddar, grated (about 3 cups), divided
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced ham, divided
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix cranberry sauce, mustard, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Spread relish over 1 side of each slice of bread.
  • 2. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 1 slice of bread, plain side down, in skillet and cook until just golden on bottom side, about 2 minutes.
  • 3. Scatter 3/4 cup cheese over and slightly around bread (the cheese in contact with the pan will begin to melt immediately). Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese is golden brown around edges, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and top bread with a few slices of ham; let sandwich cool slightly in pan 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, carefully loosen edges of cheese and transfer sandwich to a plate. Repeat with remaining butter, bread, cheese, and ham to make 3 more sandwiches. Wipe out skillet.
  • 4. Heat oil in same skillet over medium. Crack eggs into skillet, cover, and cook until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg; season with salt and pepper.

Turkey Shawarma with Crunch Vegetables


This is an overstuffed, saucy little sandwich, but our pita trick ensures that the pocket won't implode while you're eating it.

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek Yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups shredded turkey meat, room temperature, divided
  • 1 small red onion, halved, very thinly sliced
  • 2 medium Persian cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups mixed tender herbs (such as torn mint leaves, parsley leaves with tender stems, and/or dill fronds)
  • 4 white pitas with pockets, warmed
  • Hot sauce (for serving)

  • 1. Mix yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, and 2 tsp. lemon juice in a medium bowl; season with salt. Set yogurt sauce aside.
  • 2. Mix black pepper, coriander, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne in a small bowl. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. As soon as butter is melted, add half of spice mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of turkey meat and toss to coat. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, 1 Tbsp. oil, spice mixture, and turkey meat. Add remaining 1 tsp. lemon juice to turkey mixture and toss to combine.
  • 3. Toss onion, cucumbers, carrot, radishes, and vinegar in a large bowl to combine. Add herbs, season with salt, and gently toss again.
  • 4. Cut 1″ off top of each pita and stuff back into pocket, nudging it all the way to the bottom. Spread some of the yogurt sauce inside each pita without tearing sides and fill with turkey and vegetable mixture. Serve with hot sauce and remaining yogurt sauce.

Mashed Potato Skordalia


Traditional Greek skordalia is mostly garlic and olive oil with some potato or nuts added to thicken it. We flipped the ratio: more potato, less garlic. Serve as a dip, or thin out with lemon juice and olive oil and use as a sauce for fish.

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes, room temperature
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • Pita chips and/or cucumber spears (for serving)

  • 1. Toast walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool; finely chop.
  • 2. Mix potatoes, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. oil, and 2 Tbsp. warm water in a medium bowl; season with salt. Drizzle skordalia with oil and top with chives and toasted walnuts. Serve with pita chips and cucumbers.

Winter Panzanella with Stuffing Croutons


Stuffing salad still counts as salad, right?

  • 4 cups (firmly packed) leftover stuffing, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 red or white endive, cut in half crosswise, leaves separated
  • 1 small Treviso radicchio or any other chicory, cored, torn into 2″ pieces
  • 1 sweet-tart apple (such as Pink Lady), cored, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 small beet, any color, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)

  • 1. Preheat oven to 400º. Toast stuffing on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet until crisp and brown, 25–35 minutes.
  • 2. Meanwhile, toast pecans on another rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darker and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.
  • 3. Whisk grapefruit juice, vinegar, and honey in a large bowl. Add endive, radicchio, apple, beet, and pecans, season with salt, and toss to combine. Drizzle salad with oil and add stuffing croutons; toss again to combine.

Turkey Congee with Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms


If you don't have cinnamon and star anise in your pantry, don't buy them just for this. You can tweak the flavor profile by using black peppercorns and parsley stems, or fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes instead.

  • 1 3–4-lb. turkey carcass
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 2″ piece cinnamon, whacked into pieces
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice, rinsed well
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cilantro leaves with tender stems and chili oil (for serving)

  • 1. Bring turkey, onion, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and 14 cups cold water to a boil in a large heavy pot. Reduce heat and simmer gently, turning turkey over halfway through, until liquid is reduced to 8 cups, 50–65 minutes. Discard carcass; strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan.
  • 2. Add rice to stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup begins to thicken, 35–45 minutes (make sure to stir the bottom of pot to prevent rice from sticking). Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until rice begins to break into smaller pieces and mixture resembles the consistency of oatmeal, 10–15 minutes longer; season congee with salt.
  • 3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6–8 minutes. Remove from heat and add soy sauce; season generously with pepper.
  • 4. Divide congee among bowls. Top with crispy mushrooms and cilantro and drizzle with chili oil.

Spicy Cabbage Salad with Turkey and Peanuts


What we crave the day after Thanksgiving is a meal that doubles as a palate cleanser, with spice, zing, and freshness. And some vegetables that, you know, still have some crunch.

  • 1/2 medium head of green or savoy cabbage, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. white miso
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on diagonal, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1 cup shredded cooked turkey meat
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted, roasted skin-on peanuts
  • 2 tsp. black sesame seeds

  • 1. Toss cabbage and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Massage vigorously with your hands until cabbage begins to release water and soften, about 2 minutes (this will both season and tenderize the leaves). Drain; set aside.
  • 2. Mix anchovies, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, miso, and sugar in a large bowl; whisk in oil. Add cabbage, celery and celery leaves, scallions, chile, cilantro, and turkey meat to bowl and toss to combine; season with salt.
  • 3. Serve salad topped with peanuts and sesame seeds.

Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.