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10 Pro Chefs Reveal What They Do With Their Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and while everyone’s planning what to cook for dinner, I’m trying to figure out what to do with the inevitable leftovers that come with a large family that refuses to take food home. Usually there will be Tupperware containers stacked with stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, ham, and veggies sitting in my fridge that last well into Cyber Monday.

My go-to move is to plop everything onto a plate and introduce it to Mister Microwave. Lazy, yes, but it gets the job done. This year, I told myself I’d put a little more effort into my leftovers and was left wondering what professional chefs do with their extra holiday food the day after Turkey Day.

Photo courtesy of Josh Elkin

These ten professional chefs from across the country reveal their unique takes on tackling Thanksgiving leftovers. Check out what they have to say.


Jason Fullilove (Barbara Jean)

Photo courtesy of Peter Pham

“I like to make a Thanksgiving leftover pot pie with a simple 3-2-1 pie dough!” chef Fullilove shares.

Carmine Di Giovanni (Aunt Jake’s)

 

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“I love to whip up chili with my leftover turkey and vegetables, and then make croutons from the stuffing,” gushes Chef Di Giovanni. “It’s easy to make with everything that’s still in your fridge and doesn’t take a ton of time to put together. It’s also perfect for dinner the day after Thanksgiving and you still have family staying at your house.”

Molly Martin and Lyndi Stein (Juniper Green)

Photo courtesy of Hannah Schneider Creative

“We love to make a simple curry with leftover vegetables,” the culinary duo explain. “We usually have Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, roasted root vegetables, and maybe a spare onion and potato left. Fry up some sliced garlic, onion and ginger if you have it, then add red or green Thai curry paste, a little turkey stock (or even water), and a can or two of coconut milk.”

They add:

“If you have a can of chickpeas lying around, throw it in. Simmer your leftover veg in it just until it’s all warmed through and has a chance to marry and adjust the seasoning. We serve it over rice with lime wedges and cilantro for a comforting bowl that won’t leave you feeling like you need another nap.”

Linh Nguyen (Fleenor’s on 4th)

 

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“I like to make savory bread pudding out of the leftover stuffing, shred up some turkey and add gravy plus a couple fried eggs,” chef Nguyen says. “I call it my Thanksgiving Loco Moco!”

Jake Strang (L27)

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“I like to take the dressing (or stuffing) and patty it out,” says Chef Strang. “You get a non-stick pan with a little butter and fry the patties until crispy. Then top with turkey that’s heated up in gravy until it shreds apart. Dump that over the top the crispy stuffing, top with a dollop of cranberry sauce and, if you’re feeling particularly healthy, some leftover green beans that have been slightly overcooked. It’s heaven!”

Greg Biggers (Fort Louise)

Photo courtesy Derek Richmond

“First of all, the [Thanksgiving] sandwich requires sturdy bread but not chewy,” chef Biggers explains. “A well baked, large toasted brioche bun is my go-to. Next, the most important ingredient (surprisingly not the turkey) is the stuffing! I like to make a patty out of it similar to a crab cake then sear it off. Now, you can add everything else left from the table you can find; turkey, cranberry sauce, mayo, coleslaw, and top it off with a side dish of gravy to dip it in.”

Josh Elkin (@thejoshelkin)

 

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“It changes every year, which is the fun part,” the YouTube celebrity chef shared excitedly. “Last year I made a leftover shooter sandwich. It’s a pressed sandwich packing in as much ingredients as I can fit. Weighing it down for a day and covering it in gravy. This year, I’m making a taco with a stuffing taco shell. It’s gonna be dumb smart. “

Nick Korbee (Egg Shop)

Photo courtesy of Hannah Schneider Creative

“Top a slice of bread with gravy, turkey, bacon and a tomato then broil away. When the bacon is crisp, and the gravy is bubbly, top this sandwich with a sunny up egg and enjoy!” Korbee instructs. “The prep for this classic sandwich can even be done while clearing the table. Build it on a cookie sheet and store in the fridge for an easy breakfast the next morning and save both time and Tupperware. If you’re feeling extra festive, substitute the tomato for cranberries for a little extra tang.”

Ed McFarland (Ed’s Lobster Bar)

Photo courtesy Hannah Schneider Creative

“I make Thanksgiving leftover meatballs,” McFarland dishes. “I grind the turkey, mix it with the stuffing and the cranberry sauce, form them into meatballs and heat it up in the turkey gravy. I like to do this because I use all the leftovers and every bite is the full taste of the Thanksgiving menu.”

Darryl Harmon (Clinton Hall)

Photo courtesy of Clinton Hall

“I take leftover pulled turkey, heat it up in the gravy with stuffing, cranberry sauce, baked apples and any vegetables I have from the day before,” offered Chef Harmon. “Then I take mashed potatoes and form into round mounds, add a dusting of flour (optional), and sear them on a griddle to make potato pancakes. Put the meat mixture in between and you have an amazing sandwich. Some people are weird about eating leftovers, but this twist is a fun, fresh take that my friends and family all love.”

By Peter Pham

Pete's favorite foods include pizza, tacos and pretty much any kind of breakfast. He'll usually snap a photo or two while his food cools down.