You could say that New Englanders are the nation’s authorities on leftovers. Early Colonists made pots of beans for supper and then ate them again in the morning. That morphed into cold apple pie for breakfast, a treat so quirky you have to have been born within shouting distance of the Atlantic to fully appreciate it.
Today, what’s left after Thanksgiving dinner has become so cherished that many families who don’t roast a turkey — perhaps because they’ve gone to granny’s — return home to stage their own feast. They’re looking for the roasty goods from the first-day event, and then for leftovers. How else can you make hot or cold turkey sandwiches with stuffing and cranberry sauce or enjoy that cold pie with hot coffee?
Among the best next-day turkey inventions is pot pie with a meaty filling. In Europe you see these made with one or two crusts, filled with all kinds of game. A classic American pie is deep, with only a top crust, and the meat can be beef, turkey, or chicken, along with vegetables. To make the dish moist and delicious, you also need to make a sauce from chicken stock (or thin the gravy a little). The crust has to be able to withstand an hour in the oven. Add cream cheese to the butter and the pastry won’t wimp out on you.
There are so many variations to the toasted cheese sandwich. The French have cornered the market on this wonderful lunch with their croque-monsieur, made with ham and Gruyere between toasty bread slices, which are then topped with a bechamel sauce. We say stick to bread and Gruyere, replace the ham with turkey, add a little mustard, and ditch the bechamel. With so few ingredients, you have to use the best of everything to succeed. A sandwich press is nice to use, but so is a cast-iron skillet with another skillet on top.
And finally, back to breakfast. Saute yesterday’s Brussels sprouts or roasted veggies or cubes of squash until they’re piping hot. Soft scramble a skillet of eggs and fold in the Thanksgiving garnish. It’s not as charming as cold pie, but pour a cup of coffee, dig in, and you’ll be delighted.