For many of us, Thanksgiving dinner is all about tradition - re-creating the same, satisfying, gravy-soaked turkey coma we remember from our childhoods. But once the brining, basting, and bingeing of Thanksgiving Day are behind us, well, that's when things get interesting.
There's no wrong way to make a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. But, as some of the region's inventive chefs proved, there are plenty of right ways.
We asked the chefs to innovate, and they delivered: turkey-and-stuffing scrapple to cure your tryptophan hangover, open-faced turkey towers served on slabs of stuffing, a Taiwanese-style turkey salad sandwich, and a vegan French dip with a schmear of mashed potato, roasted mushrooms, and gravy.
In short, these aren't your mom's leftover sandwich. But they're good enough that you might want to start a new tradition all your own.
Sheri Chu, CHUlicious
1200 S. Church St., Village Two Shoppes, Mount Laurel, 856-780-5240
Thanksgiving isn't a big day in the Chu family, Sheri Chu admitted. "In the Asian culture, we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving. It's more of a new tradition, because all the younger people want to celebrate it. But when we do celebrate it with our families we actually don't usually get turkey," she said. "We get duck."
Still, Chu and her father, chef Chun J. Chu, found that their house sandwich, normally made with spiced beef and crisp greens, wrapped in a flaky sesame-seed bun, translates well from Taiwanese street food to Thanksgiving remix. Chu combines shredded turkey with house-made sesame and peanut paste (you can substitute the store-bought kind at home) and sweet soy sauce for a Taiwanese turkey salad that can be served cold or hot on just about any kind of bun.
MacGregor Mann, Junto
100 Ridge Rd., Suite 31, Chadds Ford, 484-574-8041
Since MacGregor Mann has been putting in 16-hour days cooking at Junto, his refrigerator at home doesn't have much more than a bottle of sriracha in it. But for him, Thanksgiving always means a home-cooked meal with his five siblings and a slew of cousins at his mother's house in York. "That's where a lot of the Pennsylvania Dutch influence in our food comes from. I don't know a lot of people younger than my mom who are still making the old recipes, so I want to keep that alive."
In this case, he decided to update Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple with a Thanksgiving twist. "It's a cool way of combining an old technique with a new idea - and that's what we're all about," he said. He recommends making a pan of this turkey-and-stuffing concoction to keep in your fridge, ready to fry up for a sandwich, with eggs for breakfast, or on its own for a snack.
Rich Landau, Vedge and V Street
Vedge: 1221 Locust St., 215-320-7500
V Street: 126 S. 19th St., 215-278-7943
On Thanksgiving, chef Rich Landau and his wife and business partner Kate Jacoby have their own traditions - but turkey isn't one of them. Instead, they go for tofu, seitan, or mock chicken. "Even if I was not vegetarian, I probably would not eat turkey on Thanksgiving, because it's just too much. It's overkill - pun intended," Landau said. "The original Thanksgivings were vegetable-based. It was all about the harvest."
So he likes to showcase fresh greens and colorful vegetables, the antidote to what he calls "the ugly food - brown bubbly gravies and overbaked casseroles." For a leftovers sandwich, he piles braised mushrooms into a roll garnished with mashed potatoes, and serves it with a side of gravy or mushroom stock for dipping.
Laura Frangiosa, the Avenue Deli
27 N. Lansdowne Ave., Lansdowne, 610-622-3354
If there's one Thanksgiving survival tip Laura Frangiosa would like to share, it's this: Make an extra pan of stuffing. "And don't even put it out. That would be my suggestion. Hoard it for yourself."
Frangiosa likes to make her secret stuffing in a loaf pan - providing what she said is the optimal foundation for the ultimate Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. She recommends a simple, dense stuffing to serve as a foundation for her open-faced "tower of turkey," which also utilizes the infamous can of jellied cranberries that's one of Frangiosa's guilty pleasures. If all this sounds like too much work to make at home, she'll be serving it up as a special with smoked turkey at the deli for the next week or two.
» READ MORE: CHUlicious Turkey Sandwich (Sheri Chu)
Makes 2 sandwiches
For Taiwanese turkey salad:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon sesame paste or tahini
½ tablespoon peanut butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 pound turkey, leftover white meat, shredded
4 leaves romaine
1 small cucumber, seeded, julienned
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
2 scallions, white parts, sliced into ribbons
½ bunch cilantro
2 sesame buns
1. Heat soy sauce and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Then remove from heat and incorporate next 9 ingredients up to turkey. Mix well.
2. Spoon sauce into shredded turkey meat, adding an amount to suit your taste.
3. Split bun and line with lettuce leaves, then spoon in Taiwanese turkey salad.
4. Top with cucumber, bell pepper, scallion, and cilantro, and cut in half to serve.
- Sheri Chu and Chun Chu, CHUlicious
Per serving (based on using all of the sauce): 879 calories; 79 grams protein; 68 grams carbohydrates; 26 grams sugar; 34 grams fat; 172 milligrams cholesterol; 3,383 milligrams sodium; 5.7grams dietary fiber.
» READ MORE: Thanksgiving Scrapple Sandwich (MacGregor Mann)
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 1/2 cups shredded turkey, dark meat only
2 cups stuffing
2 cups turkey stock or gravy
½ cup cornmeal
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup whipped crème fraiche (or sour cream)
1 tablespoon minced chives
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup sugar
1 orange, juiced and zested
6 ounces fresh cranberries
Bouquet: 1 star anise pod, 5 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put turkey, stuffing, and stock in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Add cornmeal and cook 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into an oven-safe pan, spread flat, and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate.
2. Mix mashed potatoes with crème fraiche and chives, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
3. To make cranberry relish, put sugar in a pot over medium heat to caramelize. Add orange juice and stir. Add cranberries and bouquet, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add orange zest, then set aside relish to cool.
4. To serve: Split buns and slather with mashed potato spread. Cut cold scrapple to desired size and sear in butter on both sides. (Depending on thickness, you may have to put into the oven to heat through.) Fry eggs, sunny-side-up. Assemble sandwiches with scrapple, topped with cranberry relish and eggs, and serve immediately.
- MacGregor Mann, Junto
Per serving: 680 calories; 32 grams protein; 106 grams carbohydrates; 37 grams sugar; 16 grams fat; 205 milligrams cholesterol; 1,500 milligrams sodium; 8 grams dietary fiber.
» READ MORE: Mushroom French Dip (Rich Landau)
Makes 2 sandwiches
4 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 to 4 cups mushroom gravy or mushroom stock
½ cup mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 hoagie or potato rolls
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic in the oil with the salt and pepper until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Then add the gravy or stock to the pan and reduce heat to simmer.
3. Mix mashed potatoes, parsley, mayonnaise, and mustard in a bowl.
4. Heat the rolls in the oven until edges are just browned, then spread with a thin layer of mashed potato mixture and layer in the mushrooms (pull from the gravy or stock with a slotted spoon). Serve with a cup of the gravy or stock for dipping.
- Rich Landau, Vedge and V Street
Per serving: 433 calories; 16 grams protein; 65 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams sugar; 15 grams fat; 2 milligrams cholesterol; 3,198 milligrams sodium; 7 grams dietary fiber.
» READ MORE: Leaning Tower of Turkey (Laura Frangiosa)
Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices stuffing bread (see below)
½ cup jellied cranberry sauce
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1½ tablespoons shallot, minced
4 cups green beans, blanched and shocked (from leftovers)
¼ cup almonds, toasted
½ cup radicchio, shredded
½ cup red onion, julienned
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups mashed potatoes
4 cups turkey, shredded (dark meat)
2 cups leftover gravy
1. Prepare stuffing bread (see accompanying recipe). Make up to three days ahead and cool completely.
2. Make cranberry-shallot vinaigrette: Warm cranberry sauce in the microwave for 15 seconds, stir, then microwave another 15 seconds. Whisk in vinegar and mustard, then slowly drizzle in olive and canola oils, whisking to emulsify. Whisk in the walnut oil. Finally, whisk in two tablespoons cold water and shallots.
3. Make green bean salad: Toss green beans, almonds, radicchio, and red onion with about a quarter-cup of vinaigrette.
4. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Place stuffing bread slices in the pan and toast until golden brown on both sides.
5. Meanwhile, warm mashed potatoes on stovetop or microwave. Combine turkey and gravy and heat on stovetop or microwave.
6. To serve, spread two stuffing slices with mashed potatoes, followed by turkey, and topped with green bean salad. Repeat for remaining plates.
- Laura Frangiosa, The Avenue Deli
Per serving: 1,293 calories; 57 grams protein; 89 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams sugar; 81 grams fat; 127 milligrams cholesterol; 2,104 milligrams sodium; 7 grams dietary fiber.
Cremini and Leek Stuffing “Bread” for Leaning Tower of Turkey
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 cups leeks, cut in half-moons, washed 2 or 3 times
1 cup celery, diced small
2 cups sweet white onion, diced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ pound stale challah, crusts removed, ½-inch dice
½ pound stale rye, crusts removed, ½-inch dice
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute 3 to 5 minutes until mushrooms start to color slightly.
2. Turn heat down to medium, add the leeks, celery, onions, thyme sprigs, and a little salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk eggs, stock, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Combine bread cubes with the mushroom and leek mixture, then mix in the egg and stock mixture. Make sure all the bread is moistened.
5. Place stuffing in a buttered standard loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
- Laura Frangiosa, The Avenue Deli
Per slice (based on 10): 298 calories; 8 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams sugar; 16 grams fat; 120 milligrams cholesterol; 443 milligrams sodium; 4 grams dietary fiber.