What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?
Photo: Dave Carlinx
‘Waldorf’ Turkey Salad with Cranberry Medallions

By Tina Wasserman

I love cooking for Thanksgiving, and I love eating the leftovers…at least for one day. After that I wonder what I am going to do with the stuffing (there’s only so many times you can grab a chunk and eat it cold right out of the fridge, or warm it slightly in the microwave if you want to shame me!).

You will probably see this column right before or right after Thanksgiving and you better not be looking for a recipe for a side dish because IT’S TOO LATE! But it’s not too late to think about what to do with all the leftovers, so I’m here to help.

Before I get started with the recipes, however, I want to share some important “Tidbits” with you about your meal preparation and, if I’m late, save these thoughts for next year.

1. It is much safer to make your stuffing (or dressing as some call it) in a pan rather than putting the stuffing inside of the bird’s cavity. The likelihood of bacterial growth is much higher if the turkey is stuffed. However, if you have always stuffed your bird then please salt the cavity of the turkey, rub the salt around the rib bones and rinse before you stuff it and NEVER stuff your turkey the night before you roast it!

2. Brining does add flavor if your brine contains many aromatics. However, a kosher turkey has been salted and soaked and even Gourmet magazine suggests that it is equal to a simple salt brine at home and doesn’t require a giant pot.

3. If you tent your turkey with some aluminum foil to prevent the breast meat from drying out, always put the shiny side facing you so that it will reflect the heat away from the bird. Uncover the last half-hour to brown and crisp the skin.

4. If you or the butcher spatchcock the turkey it will cook in less than 2 hours. If you must do it yourself, here are the directions courtesy of Bon Appetit:

a. With turkey breast side down, use poultry shears (and some force) to cut along both sides of the backbone. Save it, along with the giblets, for stock.

b. Open the turkey and use the tip of a knife to score alongside the keel bone (the dark oblong bone in the middle of the breast). This makes it easier to flatten the bird.

c. Turn the turkey skin side up and press down strongly with the heel of your hand on the center of the breast. You should hear a crack and feel the bones give way.

d. Follow your favorite recipe for seasoning and start roasting at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and continue roasting for an additional hour or so until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Let sit for 15-30 minutes before carving.

Turkey Gumbo

From leftover roasted turkey bones

No matter how carefully you carve the turkey, there will always be meat clinging to the bones. Much can be removed by hand before you make the broth but there will be more meat found after cooking. Of course, some of the shards of meat from carving can also be added to this Gumbo after the initial cooking. Pretend that you’re like our ancestral cooks and make the most out of the least. If you can, wait; this dish will taste even better the next day.


  • 1 turkey carcass and leftover skin from a roasted turkey
  • 3 ribs of celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound yellow onions, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Water to cover carcass and vegetables (about 4 quarts)


  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (not olive)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ pound smoked sausage (kosher andouille or kielbasa available if desired), cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half crosswise into ½-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika or cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 12 ounces frozen cut okra, thawed (optional)
  • 1 piece of scallion, green part as well as white, cut into 1/8 slices crosswise
  • Cooked white rice for serving

1. Place all the ingredients for the broth in an 8-quart stockpot and cover with water.

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 or more hours to extract all the flavor of the ingredients into the broth.

3. Cool the broth and strain into a large bowl if using right away, or freeze the broth for later use.

4. Pick any meat from the strainer or any remaining on the bones and set aside.

To make the Gumbo:

1. Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over high heat for 20 seconds. Add the oil and flour and stir immediately to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir slowly but constantly for 15 minutes or longer until the roux becomes a dark golden brown BUT NOT BURNT! 

2. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic to the pot and stir into the roux for 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften. 

3. Add the strained broth and whisk until smooth to completely combine the ingredients. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Add the sliced sausage, the pieces of turkey and the remaining spices to the pot and cook over a low heat for another 30 minutes or until all the flavors are incorporated and flavor is well balanced.

5. If adding the okra, add now and cook for another 15 minutes or according to package instructions.

6. Adjust salt and pepper and serve over cooked rice garnished with some sliced scallion.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• This dish does not contain filé, which is ground sassafras leaves. A little could be added to thicken the soup further if you like but only use a little. Some commercial gumbo spices might contain filé, but most contain the vegetable flavoring and spices I have added to the dish.

• A roux is the mixture of fat and flour that is cooked either a short time to remove any raw taste from the flour or a long time to “toast” the flour, so it has a strong baked flavor. Both forms will thicken a sauce or soup, but a browned roux the color of chocolate is required for a classic gumbo.

Thanksgiving Ravioli

The following recipe is in the traditional shitarein method of cooking that our grandmothers used. You know, a handful of this and a handful of that! One of my favorite sandwiches this time of year is turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing sandwiched between good sourdough bread. So, I thought, why not do the same with ravioli dough? Now don’t get excited; I am using wonton wrappers that you can find in your local supermarket. This might sound crazy, but you will know how to fill these wrappers with anything in the future, so enjoy!

  • 1 8-ounce package of wonton skins from egg noodle dough
  • 1 egg, beaten with ½ teaspoon water
  • Leftover turkey, finely chopped
  • Leftover bread stuffing, chopped into 1/8-inch pieces
  • Homemade or store-bought whole cranberry sauce chopped fine but not pureed
  • ½ stick pareve margarine
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade (sliced crosswise into fine strips)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Lay a wonton skin on a board and, using your finger, brush the edges of the wonton skin with the egg wash.

2. Place small amounts of each filling in the center, a total of 2 teaspoons.

3. Place another wonton skin over the mixture and, using the outsides of your pinkies press down on the dough from the center to the edge to seal the edges well.

4. Continue making as many raviolis as you like.

5. Bring a 3-quart pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the water. Gently place the filled dough into the water. Ravioli will turn white when done and should hold together if not overly stuffed. This should take about 1-1½ minutes. 

6. Gently remove the ravioli with a flat strainer or slotted spoon. Drain on paper towel.

7. Meanwhile melt a half stick of pareve margarine in a small sauté pan for 1 minute. Add the chiffonade sage leaves to the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the butter is lightly browned and has a nutty aroma and the leaves appear slightly crisp.

8. Pour over the ravioli, sprinkle with flaked salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Egg wash is used as a “glue” to hold the skins together. As soon as the ravioli hits the hot water, the egg “cooks” and seals the dough.

• To chiffonade the sage leaves, lay the leaves on top of each other and roll them up like you were rolling a cigarette. Then make thin slices crosswise through the roll and you will get a light, airy toss of herbs that float through the air like chiffon!

• You can use any filling you want for this ravioli, and you can mix the ingredients together, but I think the flavors are more distinguished if kept separate. However, if you want to mix the turkey with some of the sweet potato casserole and some of the stuffing, that could work well. Have fun!

• Browned margarine sage sauce poured over stuffed pasta is a classic Italian Jewish dish, especially if the ravioli is filled with pumpkin.

‘Waldorf’ Turkey Salad with Cranberry Medallions

Leftover turkey requires a little more moisture, and the grated carrot not only adds to the flavor of the salad, but it adds moisture and color. The optional addition of diced apple and raisins mimics a classic Waldorf salad. The salad is good with or without their addition.

  • 2 cups shredded, cooked turkey, preferably a mix of light and dark meat
  • 1¼ cups finely diced celery
  • 3 or more carrots
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 apple, skin on, finely diced (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 can jellied cranberry sauce 

1. Skin the turkey and pull the meat off the bones.

2. Shred the turkey and place into a large bowl.

3. Dice the celery and add it to the turkey.

4. Clean the carrots, trim both ends and grate them into the bowl with the turkey and the celery.

5. Add remaining ingredients except the cranberry sauce and mix until well blended and moistened. If necessary, add more mayonnaise.

6. Line a bowl with plastic wrap and spoon the turkey salad into it. Press down firmly on the turkey so that it will mold. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

7. Slice the cranberry sauce into ½-inch slices. Using a decorative cutter or sharp knife, make designs in the sauce.

8. To serve: Turn bowl with turkey salad upside down on a serving plate. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Coat with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Garnish with the cranberry sauce cutouts and serve with crackers or rolls.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Do not think of using “lite” mayonnaise for this salad unless you are planning to serve it immediately. “Lite” mayonnaise gets its consistency from the use of cellulose, and cellulose, like a sponge, absorbs much moisture from the other ingredients in a dish. Salad will therefore get dry and clump upon sitting.

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