Melissa Elsmo

The turkey has been carved, the buttery chardonnay bottles are empty, and the good china has already been washed and stowed away until late December. Before your delicious leftovers make it to the refrigerator, your full-bellied loved ones will be lounging on your comfortable furniture in a tryptophan induced Thanksgiving slumber. After an avalanche of cooking compliments, it feels like the frenzy of serving a memorable holiday feast dissipates in an instant.  

The genuine cozy feeling that comes over a house after a Thanksgiving meal is a cook’s best reward for surviving days of preparation, mounting pressure, and rescuing lumpy gravy at the eleventh hour. Thanksgiving cooks tend to be pretty exhausted after serving a successful thanksgiving feast and deserve a well deserved rest.  

Rather than participate in the insane black Friday shopping scramble, I always opt to hunker down and enjoy a cozy day at home with my family following our Thanksgiving festivities.  We cuddle up and watch hokey old movies in our pajamas; we laugh and nap and snack.

Leftovers are an important part of any successful Thanksgiving celebration and revisiting our feast is always an important part of unwinding on the day after  Thanksgiving. Sure, we enjoy of fair share of open faced turkey and gravy sandwiches, but my savory French toast sandwiches take a pile of leftovers to the next level and capture the spirit of one of my favorite days of the year.  

The sandwiches, like the day after Thanksgiving, are cozy, sloppy, and slightly sweet. They are a snap to prepare and equally delicious with a mid-morning cup of coffee or a sip of cider in the afternoon. Make them when the mood strikes you and enjoy the respite of the day.

Cozy Day Turkey and Cranberry French Toast Sandwiches

Makes Two large servings or 4 standard servings

  • 4 (3/4-inch thick) slices challah bread
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoon orange Marmalade
  • 4-ounces brie with the rind in tact, cut into 6 slices
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 6-ounces leftover turkey, sliced
  • ¼ Cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Cups milk
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the bread on oven racks and toast until slightly dry (about 15 minutes.)  Meanwhile, combine the butter and orange marmalade and set aside.  Remove the bread from the oven and place on a clean work surface.  

Spread each slice of bread with the marmalade butter and top two slices with 2 slices of brie each.  Sprinkle with some thyme leaves.  Top with sliced turkey and cranberries.  Finish the stack with remaining slice of brie.  Place the remaining piece of bread, butter side down, on the top of the stack.

Increase oven heat to 350 degrees.  Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a 9×9 pan. Place sandwiches in the egg mixture and allow bread to soak for 30 seconds.  Flip and allow the second side to soak.  Heat some butter in a non-stick pan or on a griddle. When foam subsides, add the sandwiches to the pan.  Cook until toast is golden brown and resembles traditional French toast.  Flip and cook the second side until golden.  

Place the sandwiches on a sheet pan and heat in the oven until warmed through and brie is melted.  Slice sandwiches on the bias, brush tops with syrup and serve.

Post Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips:

  • Get those leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of serving your Thanksgiving meal.  Bacteria will develop between temperatures of 40-140 degrees.
  • Do not store the leftover turkey on the carcass. Slice the meat and store in containers in the refrigerator.  Doing so ensures food cools quickly and remains safe to eat. 
  • Reserve the carcass to make stock. The carcass can be stored in the refrigerator for two days or frozen for several months.
  • Remove stuffing from the bird after roasting.  Store it separately in shallow containers.
  • Consume leftover turkey and stuffing within three days. Freeze cooked turkey within three days of cooking.
  • Gravy will keep in the refrigerator for two days.

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