I love the foods of Thanksgiving and wish that we ate more of them throughout the year. Not necessarily more in volume — who could do that on a regular basis? — but more of the variety of foods that are often shared at the Thanksgiving table.
My family enjoys a large reunion each Thanksgiving, rotating among the few aunts and uncles that are still with us and more often now the cousins and their children. This lends itself to a good turnout each year, even allowing for the rotations with the in-laws that many of the younger married cousins now use to keep the peace.
That usually means anywhere from 35 to 50 people, not including the small children who keep appearing each year. This is a wonderful yearly event for all who attend, but its popularity also means that I, who would gladly cook the entire meal, cannot even host the event. My house is just too small, and only if we were eating outside could we handle half that number.
Which means I miss out on the leftovers, which are for me always the best part because you get to enjoy the things you like the most again and in the peace and quiet of a smaller group. Our family members are all good creative cooks and always bring a wonderful selection of dishes to complement the turkey or turkeys that the host provides. Which makes the loss of the “remains of the day” even harder to deal with. I must admit that I do often come home with the carcass because no one else knows what to do with it, and I’m not telling them either.
I had already planned to write about what to do with those leftovers, basing my thoughts on Mark Bittman’s piece for the New York Times Magazine last November, but today The Washington Post printed a similar article. The Post article was somewhat less practical, however, as the recipes either fail to account for the varied ways in which the original dishes may have been prepared, such as the sweet potatoes in the Golden Sweet Potato Mold, or they assume that you have served something that is not served at many Thanksgiving feasts, such as winter squash that would work in Turkey and Squash Ravioli. Bittman instead assumed only that most of us will have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, and he provided five simple recipes for each. And they all look good to eat and easy to make. Here is the full article.
Please feel free to use your own imaginations. I hope you don’t see this as a daunting challenge but as a regifting opportunity, especially if you are using someone else’s leftovers. And don’t be afraid to experiment with your own version of turkey soup. You can make a delicious turkey broth by simmering that carcass with onion, carrots, celery, and some herbs for an hour or so, and then you can put together the best soup you will ever eat. Oops! The secret is out, and I may never bring home another carcass.