The microwave helps with Turkey Day leftovers. But so does the imagination. I’ve developed and tested a couple of recipes that stretch Thanksgiving dinner into a few new meals down the road.
Hanukkah follows quickly on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, as it sometimes does, so let’s fashion some latkes using up leftover Thanksgiving dinner sweet or mashed potatoes.
And for that (inevitable?) mound of leftover bread stuffing — and even leftover greens or vegetables — a turn on a Spanish and Mexican recipe for a thick bread and garlic soup called “sopa de pan y ajo.” It’s delicious, super-hearty and warming, perfect for colder nights ahead.
Leftovers and Latkes
Makes 6-8, depending on size.
- 2 medium- to medium-large russet potatoes, peeled
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup cooked leftover white or sweet potatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
- A few grinds white pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup matzo meal
- 1 large egg, whisked in a small bowl
- Canola or other neutral oil for frying
- Sour cream or plain yogurt
After peeling the potatoes and before proceeding to grate them, be sure the whole potatoes are soaking in cold water. (For example, you may peel them ahead and keep them in the refrigerator covered in water.) When ready to cook, set up a wire cooling rack over a brown paper bag set in a baking tray near the heat source.
Place the onion, leftover potatoes, salt and pepper and matzo meal in the bowl of a food processor at the ready.
Pat the potatoes dry and grate them on the large holes of a box grater. (If they are particularly moist, squeeze handfuls of them of excess liquid.) Proceed quickly with the remainder of the recipe so that the grated potatoes do not oxidize (turning grey or red-brown).
Over medium-high heat, warm a heavy-bottomed skillet (cast-iron or stainless steel are best for browning) and into it pour 1/4 to 1/3 inches of oil. Begin heating the oil until it shimmers. Pulse the contents of the food processor 7-8 times; do not purée the mixture. In a large bowl, add the contents of the processor bowl to the grated potatoes. Add the egg and fold in everything well, but do not overwork.
Scoop 1/2-cup portions of the latke mix and gently lay them into the hot oil. With a spatula, flatten each into a patty no more than 1/2-inch thick. Do not crowd the pan; you will cook more than one batch. Fry until the edges begin to brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip and fry for another 3-4 minutes. It may be helpful to use two spatulas to flip or move the latkes.
Watch the temperature of the oil: too hot and the edges will darken before the middles cook through. Too low and the latkes will become soggy with fat. Also, you may find it helpful to wipe off the back of the spatula, from time to time, on paper towels.
Serve with sour cream or whipped yogurt.
Leftover Stuffing Sopa de Pan y Ajo (Bread and Garlic Soup)
Adapted from “The Taste of Mexico,” by Patricia Quintana and “Delicioso,” by Penelope Casas. If the leftover stuffing already contains raisins or nuts (as some do), simply omit that ingredient from the list. Makes 4-6 servings.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or a mix of sweet and hot)
- Pinch saffron, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 quart chicken or turkey stock
- 1/4 cup raw or toasted peeled almonds, sliced
- 1/4 cup golden or green raisins
- 4 cups leftover bread stuffing
- 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables, chopped or shredded (roasted white potatoes, yams, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sautéed greens, or any mix)
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise
These directions are for a 2-quart gratin or chafing dish. The recipe may be halved or multiplied accordingly. Oil the gratin dish.
In a 2-quart or larger pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it just shimmers. Toss in the garlic and swirl it around in the oil for 30 seconds, no more; do the same with the paprika, saffron and black pepper. Add the stock (carefully) and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Add the almonds and raisins and simmer for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, lay 2 cups of the stuffing in the gratin dish and, atop that, the 2 cups of leftover vegetables.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. When the liquid in the pan is finished cooking, pour it over the vegetables and stuffing in the gratin dish, distributing the raisins and almonds evenly. Layer the remaining 2 cups of stuffing in the gratin dish, gently pushing it down into the liquid to even it out. Place the gratin dish in the oven, uncovered.
After 30 minutes, remove the gratin dish from the oven and set it to rest on the stovetop or other heat-proof surface. (During the baking and depending on how dry the stuffing was to begin, you may find that adding a bit more stock keeps the sopa from getting too dry itself.)
Using a soup spoon, place 1/2 of each egg in the spoon’s bowl and gently make an indentation in the top of the sopa, sliding out the egg. Do this with all 4 quarters of the eggs and let them warm up in the hot sopa for 4-5 minutes, sprinkling the egg quarters with more paprika, hot or sweet, if desired. Serve in warmed bowls.
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