On the third Friday and Saturday of every November, in countless homes in America, smart cooks are preparing dishes based on leftovers from Thanksgiving. There are some wonderful dishes to be had on these days, and here are two great ways to provide delicious non-tiresome post-Thanksgiving dishes. The first — no big surprise here — is turkey soup. But this isn’t your mother’s turkey soup. Why settle for the same old soup when you can, with little effort, enliven it?
It begins with that beautiful roasted turkey carcass, the big chunks of leftover meat having been taken off, that goes into a stockpot and is covered with water and made into a flavorful broth. A good time to do this is Thursday evening once Thanksgiving dinner is over. Let the carcass simmer in the stockpot overnight, adding whatever vegetables you’d like to get rid of in your refrigerator such as an onion, celery, carrots, leeks, scallions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, sage or other herbs and peppercorns. Strain the broth Friday morning and reduce the remaining broth over high heat if you like a rich tasting stock.
Now things get interesting. First, you’ll make some crêpes that will be stuffed with cheese and folded over, placed in the soup bowl, and then soaked with the boiling turkey broth.
Turkey Soup With Gruyère-Stuffed Crêpes
- In a bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, flour, parsley, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, salt and nutmeg. Beat some more, then set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes. (You can use a blender for this step if you like.)
- Over medium-high heat, heat a 9-inch crêpe pan or nonstick pan, then rub the surface of the pan with a little lard or oil, using a paper towel, so there is only a film on the surface.
- Pour in enough batter, 3 to 4 tablespoons, to cover the bottom of the pan, twirling the pan as you do it so the batter covers the entire bottom. The batter should be thin enough to spread rapidly, not slowly like pancake batter. Use the first crêpe as a test case.
- Once the crêpe is in the pan, cook until the top surface looks dry, then flip and cook the other side, about 1 minute in all. The earlier crêpes will take a little bit longer to cook and the latter ones less as the pan gets hotter.
- As they finish cooking, set the crêpes aside, making sure they cool before placing another one on top of them. Alternatively, separate them with sections of plastic wrap or aluminum foil as you continue cooking. The crêpes can be frozen at this point if desired or left at room temperature if using the same day.
- Sprinkle some Gruyère cheese on each crêpe, then roll them up tightly like a handmade cigar. Arrange 2 crêpes in each serving bowl, side by side, bending them if you must.
- Bring the turkey broth to a boil then ladle over the crêpes so the liquid only comes up to about a third of the crêpe. Cover and let the crêpes absorb the broth and serve hot.
Another great dish to make with Thanksgiving leftovers, especially if you have out-of-town guests who need to be fed (effortlessly) over that weekend, is a twist on a Lebanese dish called fatta. Fatta refers to a family of culinary preparations popular in the eastern Mediterranean in which pieces of stale, toasted or fried flatbread are crumbled and used as a foundation for a casserole. For a lighter dish, toast the bread rather than frying it.
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 1 cup oil over medium-high heat, until nearly smoking, then fry the bread until golden, about 10 seconds a side. Set the fried bread aside to drain on paper towels. Let the oil cool, then discard the oil and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, or use another pan for the next step.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey, baharat and cinnamon, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
- Arrange the fried bread on the bottom of a 12-by-9-by-2-inch (or similarly sized) casserole. Cover with the turkey mixture and spread the yogurt over that. Sprinkle the walnuts on top. Bake until the yogurt is hot but not bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.
Zester Daily contributor Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard / KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for “A Mediterranean Feast.” His latest book is “Hot & Cheesy” (Wiley) about cooking with cheese.
Photo: Thanksgiving turkey. Credit: Clifford A. Wright