WALLA WALLA TABLE - Creative use of Thanksgiving leftovers makes for real treats

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So, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now you are left with the aftermath.

The pounds of turkey and mashed potatoes, the cranberry sauce, the stuffing and the tighter feeling around your middle when you put on your pants.

While you know how to solve the latter issues, the real trick is what to do with all of those leftovers: Time for a pantry raid!

If you have been following Walla Walla Table since the beginning of the year and taking good notes you should have a well-stocked larder. One of the first things I reach for after the holidays is some serious comfort food, and for me that means Mexican.

Enchiladas are a favorite in my family. We love them, the kids love them and they are a fantastic way to use up leftovers. If you are not into making your own tortillas, good ones can be found in stores. You should have your ranchero sauce ready to go in your freezer, so this is a no brainer. Heat your sauce, dip the tortillas in for 20 to 30 seconds, add your turkey - cheese is optional - roll them up and place into a baking dish, cover with remaining sauce and cheese if desired, and bake for 20 minutes at 350. Voila! Dinner.

If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can always add some of your stuffing into the center with the turkey. Feel free to add some ranchero sauce to your potatoes as well.

Turkey omelets are a bit pass for me, but if that is your thing, why not. What I REALLY like is Eggs Franklin (named for Ben Franklin, who wanted the national bird to be the turkey instead of the bald eagle). Basically it's Eggs Benedict with turkey instead of Canadian bacon.

As for those leftover mashers, use them to make simple potato pancakes with a sour cream cranberry sauce instead of the traditional apple sauce (see recipe). For the sauce whole or mostly whole berry cranberry sauce or relish works best. I make mine with orange so there is already a good sour note to it. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sour cream and stir. I like to add a little fresh ground pepper to mine.

Stuffing seems to be the one single item at my house that is never in short supply. Usually there is more left than we know what to do with.

Stuffing is basically a savory bread pudding, if you can look at it objectively. So make it so. To your stuffing you can add a savory custard and bake the whole shebang and serve with a sauce such as demi glace or a good reduction. You can even thin out your gravy and make a nice sauce as well. Consider adding some of the cranberry into this to add a nice sweet/acidic component.

Another option - and I realize it is nothing too adventurous - is to make Shepherd's pie. Instead of lamb or the Americanized version using beef, just use up your turkey instead. You already have the mashers and probably some stock and gravy as well, so go for it. The kids love it and it keeps well and is easy to microwave the next day.

One of my other favorites is Hot Browns, made famous in the 1920s and most notably in Kentucky, where it originates. It started as late- night bar food meant to fill the belly and induce the "food coma" and help soak up the alcohol (ever wondered how Prohibition got started?) Basically it's toast, turkey, Mornay sauce and bacon and tomato all served hot from the broiler (see recipe).

Cheers!

Damon Burke co-owns the Salumiere Cesario gourmet grocery in Walla Walla. He can be reached at wallawallatable@gmail.com. He also writes online at thegrocersbag.blogspot.com.

Mornay sauce

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk, heated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
  • About 1 cup of cheese, Gruyere, Parmesan Reggiano or something tasty.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium flame. Add the flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly until pale yellow and frothy, Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly whisk in milk and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. This is now called a bchamel sauce, and is one of the most basic and versatile of the mother sauces. Stir in the cheese and whisk until melted. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a little milk. You now have a Mornay sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. You may want to experiment with cheeses - a sharp cheddar can be fun, and so can adding a few different cheeses to make a more complex flavor.

Hot browns

While there are many different variations, this is pretty standard and includes some of my embellishments.

Toast. I like thick Texas style toast or good crusty baguette or batard for mine

Mornay sauce (see separate recipe).

Tomatoes, sliced or wedges. I like mine sliced thick, broiled and served alongside.

Bacon, several slices, thick and crispy. 2 slices per serving (or more if you are feeling particularly crazy, it is the holidays)

Turkey, sliced thin or shredded and a good amount.

Arrange bread on a baking sheet, brush with butter and toast in oven until lightly brown and slightly crisp. Add turkey and warm for a few minutes in the oven just to heat the turkey. Remove from sheet pan to plate, two pieces per. Add sauce garnish with bacon slice and tomatoes.

Potato pancakes

  • Mashed potatoes
  • 2 to 6 tablespoons of flour
  • Cream
  • Butter

Add about 1 tablespoon of flour to every two cups of mashed potatoes. In a saucepan heat cream to just warm and add cup at a time to potatoes until you have a thick batter. If batter is too thin, add more flour or more potatoes. Heat butter to bubbling in a large non-stick skillet over medium flame. Add batter about 4 to 6 ounces at a time, just like pancake batter. Let brown on one side before turning. Cook through on opposite side and plate. Serve with apple sauce or cranberry sauce.

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