I always set my Thanksgiving table the night before the big feast. I pull out all my grandma’s antique dishes and platters, arrange a modern selection of flowers for my centerpiece and place new candles in the holders. I iron my French tablecloth, wash the tortoise water glasses and check all of my silverware for water-spots. I have even been known to label my dishes to ensure there are enough to go around for each of my thoughtfully prepared side dishes. I genuinely enjoy setting the stage for my annual Thanksgiving feast; I never set the same table twice and I always take give a quiet moment to appreciate all the unique hodgepodge of decorative details that go into making up my version of a memorable holiday meal.
On Thanksgiving proper my focus is rightly on transforming a vast array of ingredients into a festive and bountiful feast for my guests. If all goes well a bowl full of citrus spiked green beans should land on the table just after a massive mesquite grilled turkey takes its place of honor on the buffet. A batch of Ras el Hanout roasted cauliflower serves to compliment a traditional cornbread stuffing while roasted beets and goat cheese rest on a platter alongside a bowl full of smashed rutabaga. Just like my table, my Thanksgiving menu is always a hybrid between tradition and innovation and the resulting symphony of flavors makes up one of my favorite annual food memories.
My approach to leftovers is no different; I advocate for mixing all of the remnants of your holiday feast into one delicious mess. Transforming the menu from one of the coziest days of the year into a lovely layered leftover casserole is the definition of comfort food to me. Just as a wholesome turkey sandwich or pot of turkey soup is a common use for Thanksgiving leftovers this type of oven casserole is by no means a new way to enjoy those lingering bits of your holiday bird, but this classic dish is made unique by what your holiday recipes bring to the dish.
Believe me, you’ll be able to taste the love in every later of this holiday casserole dish!
Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter and delicious things.
Layered Leftover Casserole (makes 12 servings)
Alternatively you can assemble this casserole in a disposable pan, seal it tightly and transfer it to the freezer for safe keeping. That way you can thaw it out and enjoy a little authentic Thanksgiving flavor later this winter.
- 4 Cups leftover mashed potatoes
- 1 egg
- 2 Cups leftover Thanksgiving turkey, shredded
- ¼-½ Cup leftover gravy
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- Generous pinch of kosher salt
- 1 ½ Cups chopped leftover Thanksgiving veggies
- ½ Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3 Cups leftover Thanksgiving Stuffing
- Cranberry sauce for garnish (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 (or equivalent oval baking dish) glass baking dish with non-stick pan spray and set aside. Whip the cold potatoes with the egg with an electric mixer until well blended. Spread the potatoes evenly on the bottom of the prepared dish.
In a medium bowl combined the shredded turkey, gravy, parsley, black pepper and salt. Pour the turkey mixture evenly over the potatoes.
Sprinkle the chopped vegetables over the turkey mixture and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Press the leftover stuffing over the cheese to cover the entire casserole. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes until casserole is piping hot and stuffing is beginning to crisp on top.
Garnish the casserole with parsley and serve with cranberry sauce on the side.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce (makes about 2 Cups)
- 16-ounces fresh cranberries
- ¼ Cup brown sugar
- ¼ Cup white sugar
- ½ Cup water
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, white sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer the berries until they begin to pop-about 8 minutes. Stir in the minced rosemary and vanilla; remove from heat and allow to cool before refrigerating until ready to use. Sauce can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for 3 months.