The phrase “it’s all in the marketing” finds a unique application this week. My marketing strategy when it comes to Thanksgiving leftovers: repurpose, redesign, recombine, rearrange, and re-title.
The phrase “it’s all in the marketing” finds a unique application this week. Growing up, I never recall leftovers on the table except immediately after a holiday when everyone wanted more of the goodies. I don’t know whether my mother knew exactly how much to cook for one sitting, threw out the extras or disguised it in another recipe.
I do recall leftovers at friends’ tables. One friend invited the gang over to play and stay for supper on potluck night. This occurred nearly every Thursday, and until we were old enough to figure it out, we all thought that they must have been incredibly wealthy to have so many choices at one meal.
As a mom, sometimes I cook more than the family can consume in one sitting. So from time to time, but not on a regular basis, potluck is on the menu. My kids, much more discerning than I was as a child, figured it out fairly early in the game. So I created the rule that they could choose whatever they wanted on the table — no urging them to eat anything they didn’t like from earlier in the week.
My marketing strategy: repurpose, redesign, recombine, rearrange and re-title. The finished product goes onto nice serving platters, not plastic containers, and is arranged down the center of the long wooden kitchen table. Heated, sometimes tossed with pasta or topping a pizza, the food makes a newly garnished appearance to make it as inviting as the original. Candlelight is mandatory. Sometimes we dub the meal a “smorgasbord.” I credit any success to these marketing strategies.
Some foods present a greater challenge than others. For example, broccoli. This weekend, I plan to create a side dish blending the green vegetable with leftover stuffing and baking it up in muffin tins. The resulting muffin configuration intrigues young palates enough to overlook the vegetable content. This trick works just as nicely with other vegetables like carrots or creamed onions chopped into small pieces. Not as well with green bean bake.
To do this, I gently toss cooked broccoli with a couple of large handfuls of stuffing, a lightly beaten egg and some grated cheese. Cheddar or Swiss will work, as will a combination of these with a bit of Parmesan thrown into the mix. Grease some muffin tins very generously or line them with paper cupcake liners. Add the broccoli mix to them and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown on top.
Mashed potatoes can be redesigned into potato cakes. This was my grandmother’s strategy. She heartily disliked mashed potatoes, calling them “smashed” potatoes. (Oh, I wish she were around to see that on upscale restaurant menus today.)
She mixed the leftovers with Parmesan cheese and a lightly beaten egg yolk. Then, she would season with salt and pepper and form into 2-inch patties. Then she’d dip the patties first in flour, then egg wash (egg beaten with a teaspoon of water) and bread crumbs. She used the boxed ones from the grocery store. The cakes would be fried in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a skillet until golden and crispy on the outside. She kept the cooked ones warm on a sheet pan in a low oven while continuing to fry up the whole batch.
Since my grandmother cooked a pot of the mashed potatoes from time to time specifically for this purpose, we had no idea that the ones she served at this time of year were leftovers.
Tip for leftover turkey:Leftover sliced turkey tends to dry out and no amount of gravy napped over it helps. To serve up nice, juicy turkey for sandwiches or by itself, open up a box of turkey stock (look for it on the grocery shelves before the holiday). Place the turkey in a baking pan and pour some stock over it. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a 325 to 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Pot Luck Sweet Potato Casserole
Honey tastes good as well in the topping. If adding honey, include 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice as well.
2 large, cooked sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 stick melted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks. Melt butter. Toss sweet potatoes with the butter, very gently so they do not break apart.
2. Butter a casserole. Transfer potatoes to the casserole.
3. Melt the remaining butter. Add sugar, oatmeal, raisins and walnuts. Sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes until heated through and browned on top.
Makes 4 servings.
Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com.