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When it comes to consuming Thanksgiving leftovers, my parents are of two fairly divergent schools of thought. My mother likes to enjoy replicas of the original meal for a night or two after the event, after which she gracefully transitions to open-faced turkey sandwiches and, eventually, a large pot of soup.
My father’s approach is a bit messier. As soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are washed, he begins to anticipate a full week of a dish we’ve taken to calling “Mo’s Turkey Mash.” He layers diced turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, any remaining green beans and puréed squash in a serving bowl, adds a generous pour of gravy and microwaves the whole thing until suitably warm. Then he works it with a soupspoon until it reaches a homogenous distribution. Then it’s ready to eat.
As far as leftovers go for me, I have a limited capacity to eat the exact same thing over and over again. I like a replay of Thanksgiving for lunch on Friday, but then I’m ready to start reimagining the leftovers into something wholly different. Some years, I’ve opted for a creation I like to call “Turkey Pot Shepherd’s Pie.” It’s essentially the insides of a pot pie, topped with mashed potatoes instead of a pastry crust. Other times, I’ve done a thick turkey chili with the leftover meat.
This time around, I’m opting for a version of Jeff Mauro’s Turkey Cheesesteak (I do live in Philadelphia, after all). To make this sandwich, you finely chop the meat, heat it up on a griddle or in a cast iron skillet, top it with some sharp cheddar and tuck the whole thing in a roll (the recipe calls for a hot dog bun, but here in Philly, that’s sacrilege). Makes for a super simple Weekender.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- If you didn’t cook the Thanksgiving meal this year, just pop by your local deli and pick up a pound of quality sliced turkey.
- The original recipe calls for you to top the sandwiches with diced carrots and red onions. Philadelphians know that fresh vegetables really shouldn’t go anywhere near a cheesesteak. Opt for grilled onions for something more authentic.
- Enjoy your Thanksgiving!
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round, is now available.