Dinner for One: Fancified Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner

If you are anything like me (read: made a Thanksgiving feast large enough to feed 8 lumberjacks when only feeding yourself and your No. 1), you still have LOTS of leftovers to work through. This I expect.  But I don’t expect my readers to simply *hate* leftovers like I do.  Let me be clear: I LOATHE leftovers.  It has something to do with my childhood.  As such, it is very rare that I ever indulge in the same meal in consecutive sittings, and since I usually portion control pretty well, at most the husbandman (the aforementioned No. 1) gets to indulge his deep affection for leftovers with a single, but generous lunch within a few days of diving into the fresh stuff.  But the smallest turkey we could find clocked in at 12 pounds, which I roasted absolutely perfectly (if I do say so myself).  Given that we’re on a tight budget these days even I couldn’t stick my nose up at the abundant albeit cold deliciousness in my fridge, or the prudent economy of said deliciousness.  On Friday, I made some sinfully amazing Turkey Day sandwiches (which I regret not blogging about), and Clayton’s eaten a few more turkey sandwiches in the last few days.  Today I did my bit by assembling a little something something for myself.

Fancified Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner

Leftover stuffing, turkey, cranberry relish, and gravy
feta cheese
1 tsp flour
1 tbs butter
1 cup turkey stock
salad stuff

The other day, I cut some beer cans down to make an elegant stacked crab salad.  I hung onto those razor sharp accouterments for future use — like today’s.  I had an idea about a Thanksgiving themed tian, with a few additions from the larder.  But first, I spread some foil over a baking sheet, since unlike my last stack o’ dinner, which was served chilled, this stack I meant to bake.  Booyah!

Using my killer samurai edge’d cylinder, I cut a 1/2″ round of feta cheese from the block, and about a 3/4″ round of stuffing from the whole.  I made a very smooth cornbread stuffing — something more akin to a quiche or pudding than the more chunky varieties I usually prepare.  This made it very easy to carve out a perfect disc.

The first layer is the feta cheese.  Clayton wasn’t sure why I chose this cheese over others, but I quite rightly suspected that its saltiness, and the unique fluffy sort of way it “melted”, would be the perfect compliment to this preparation.

The next layer is a few spoonfuls of my homemade cranberry relish, prepared with long, thin strips of orange peel — nice and chunky and tart and bursting and juicy.

Next, I insert my layer of stuffing, and then top the whole tian off with a mixture of dark and light turkey, daubing some of the congealed turkey fat over the top to keep everything moisturized.  (Sorry the picture is so out of focus; I was having problems with the light tonight.)  I set the whole baking sheet, can in place, into a 350 degree oven to heat through for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, I make a blond roux by first whisking my butter (melted) and my flour over medium high heat…

… before adding my turkey stock …

… and a few heaping tablespoons of my leftover gravy, which has also congealed.  See, I need to thin it out a bit, but just reheating it in the pan might burn it – so making a simple gravy base with the roux and stock before adding this super-potent homemade turkey gravy concentrate works best.  It maintains the fantastic flavors I harvested last Wednesday night by cooking down the neck and gizzards with fresh aromatics and butter.  There are even delicious bits of turkey neck meat still studding its smooth rich texture.

I bring this to a high heat so it will thicken, then toss a few more bits of shredded turkey into it so they can heat through and soak up all this flavor before I form a steaming standing pool of yum on the plate.

Said steaming pool of yum will envelop my now hot and ready dinner.  Admittedly, the feta squished a bit more than I’d hoped, and the cranberries ran, but using some gentle pressure on the turkey to hold everything together, and sliding a flat spatula between the filling and the foil, I remove my savory stack from its baking sheet.  I press down on the center of the filling while sliding the can carefully up, essentially extruding my whole turkey dinner into a skyscraper on my plate.

Oh, and I whip together a quick salad as an accompaniment (some iceberg, ranch dressing, slivered onions, and scallions.  It’s all I had in the house…).

All the flavors of Thanksgiving, vertically presented.  My puffed feta cheese nestles a vibrant layer of tart cranberry relish, and a pedestal of savory cornbread stuffing buttresses a steaming stack of unctuous tender pulled turkey, all draped with rich, smooth giblet gravy.  It’s the same meal I’ve enjoyed a few times already, but presented in oh such a sumptuous way.  And I daresay it tasted even better tonight, constructed as it was with such delicacy and respect.  Dropping absolutely no new dimes on this dinner by making it completely from leftovers and simple items from my fridge helped, too.  If all leftovers could be this elegant, I might eat them more often…

Festivus Roast Beast, Brussels, Baked Onions, Creamy Mashed and Merlot Mushroom Gravy

Our holiday meal this year: a tradition in the making.  We’ve thrown both my ‘Rican and his redneck roots out the window, and have cultivated a preference for a rather high-falutin’ British-style supper.  A standing rib roast, something green, something white, something creamy, and something gravy — that’s all we ever really want for Christmas.

Click on each of the pictures below in turn to see step by step instructions for dinner tonight.