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Five Bay Area Chefs Share How to Remix Thanksgiving Leftovers

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If you're anything like me, you can stand to eat Thanksgiving leftovers as is for one, maybe two days after the holiday. What, then, to do with the other six million pounds of leftovers that have suddenly taken over a whole shelf in the refrigerator? Remix them!

In music, the best remixes retain the highlights of the original song (whatever they may be) while adding a new twist that makes the production feel fresh. It's a small parameter to keep in mind while cooking that can yield a big change.

I realize that I wasn't the first person to think of coating balls of leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with panko flakes and pan frying until crisp, for example. But several invisible exclamation points hovered above the kitchen the evening after Thanksgiving a couple years ago when I found a new way to confront those heaps of starch.

If your party wasn't vegetarian, it's likely that turkey and/or ham makes up the bulk of the leftovers. It is here that I turn the controls over to five Bay Area chefs with brilliant ideas on how to make your leftovers feel like they're back for the first time.

Chef Jordan Mackey
Chef Jordan Mackey of Cuvée Napa


Chef Jordan Mackey of Napa's Cuvée restaurant has an efficient breakfast recipe that will swoop in and handle most of your leftovers in one go. He didn't find a way to include pumpkin pie in his Harvest Benedict, but there's just about everything else in it, including leftover ham, stuffing, biscuits, and vegetables.

Harvest Benedict
By Jordan Mackey

Makes: Four servings

Some leftover sliced country ham
4 leftover biscuits, split
2 organic egg yolks
8 large organic eggs
8 oz. melted butter
¼ cup white vinegar
Kosher salt
Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper
1 lemon
Some leftover stuffing
Leftover vegetables

For hollandaise sauce: Mix two egg yolks with a squeeze of lemon and about one tablespoon of water in a short and shallow mixing bowl. Set a shallow sauce pan half-filled with water, vinegar, and a healthy pinch of salt over medium heat. When water is simmering, place bowl with eggs over pot and whip until hot and thick like a custard. Gradually add melted butter until a smooth, thick sauce forms (as you add the whey from the butter, the sauce will thin slightly). Season with salt, cayenne, and a couple drops of Worcestershire sauce. Keep hollandaise sauce warm.

For Benedict: Reheat stuffing, ham, and vegetables in oven. Toast biscuits. Gently poach eggs in the simmering vinegared water. Place some ham on the cut side of the toasted biscuits and top with some hollandaise sauce. Enjoy with your delicious sides from last night.

Tony Gemignani
Chef Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana: Joe Wollenhaupt

Most of us gravitate towards the turkey sandwich, and Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony's Pizza Napoletana, Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza & Slice House, and Tony Gemignani's International School of Pizza in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, has some simple ideas for making that sandwich a lot livelier than yours would have been, with flavors that are still reminiscent of Thanksgiving. When you’re picking up your loaves at Acme Bread Company, pick up an extra loaf of cranberry walnut bread for the day after.

Turkey Club
By Tony Gemignani

Makes: Two sandwiches

6-8 oz. sliced turkey (thinner the better)
2 oz. cranberry sauce
4 pieces of cranberry walnut bread (Acme if possible), sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 oz. mayonnaise
3 slices provolone (3 oz)
Spring mix
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: Spread a layer of mayonnaise on one slice of bread for each sandwich. Add half the turkey to each sandwich, top with cranberry sauce, provolone, and spring mix.

Gaston Alfaro
Chef Gaston Alfaro of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company: Justin Lewis

Another solution for felling your mighty leftovers in one big second meal is to make turkey casserole. Chef Gaston Alfaro of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has a recipe that is about as easy as cutting up leftovers, mixing them in a dish with a splash of beer, and baking for less than 20 minutes.

Turkey Casserole
By Gaston Alfaro

Makes: Two portions

¾ cup cut up turkey
½ cup roasted winter vegetables, diced (such as turnips, carrots, parsnips, pumpkin and onions)
¼ cup stuffing
1 tbsp dried cranberries
½ cup turkey gravy
Splash of beer, such as the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s Mavericks Amber Ale

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a casserole dish. Bake for about 17 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Bridget Batson
Chef Bridget Batson of Gitane: Hardy Wilson

One surefire way to remix leftovers is to take them out of the Thanksgiving context altogether. Chefs Bridget Batson of Gitane and Anamika Khanna of Kasa Indian Eatery, both in San Francisco, both have turkey recipes that look to Asia for inspiration. Batson uses turkey for jook, a rice-based porridge popular in China, while Khanna fashions an Indian curry out of the bird.

By Bridget Batson

Makes: Two servings

½ cup arborio rice
½ cup sushi rice
4-6 cups turkey stock (made from leftover scrap and veggies)
1 ginger finger, peeled and lightly crushed
Leftover turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch scallions, cut into rings
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
Fried shallot rings
2 jalapenos cut into rings
1 fried egg

First combine the rice and rinse. Then, in the crock-pot, add the rice with 4 cups of the turkey stock and ginger finger. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally (you can also put the crock pot on auto mode). Once the mixture has boiled, turn down to low. Let simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, occasionally stirring. Add more stock if needed. When done, the rice will be tender and creamy. Remove the ginger finger and then fold in your leftover turkey and garnish with the scallions, cilantro, fried shallots and jalapeno. Top with a fried egg.

Anamika Khanna
Chef Anamika Khanna of Kasa Indian Eatery. Photo Courtesy of Kasa Indian

Leftover Roast Turkey Curry
By Anamika Khanna

Makes: Two servings

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, very finely chopped
1 tomato, blended
3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds (in a mortar and pestle)
1 whole green chile such as serrano, jalapeno, or bird’s eye, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
2 cups leftover turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
Fresh cilantro to garnish
Salt to taste


Heat the oil in a medium deep pan and add the onion. Fry on medium heat until medium brown in color, approximately 10 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, chile, cumin, and coriander seeds and fry for a further five minutes until the onions are dark brown. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric, salt, and yogurt. Fry for five minutes more. Stir in the bell peppers and turkey and fry for a couple of minutes on high heat, so all the flavors go into the turkey. Add two cups of boiling water, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 6-7 minutes until the peppers are tender. Squeeze in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice and crunchy long cut cucumbers and red onions dressed with salt, pepper, and fresh lime juice.

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