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Dinner in Five: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Dinner in Five: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Vietnamese turkey salad

In Dinner in Five Ivy Manning shares 5-element menus that are so easy, you can pull them off even on a weeknight. Cooking hacks, time management tips, shopping secrets, and beverage pairings, she covers all the bases, so you can enjoy the dinner party, too. Today’s meal? A decidedly festive, low-brow cocktail, a light and lovely Thai salad starring cold turkey, dinner rolls transformed into banh mi sliders, and a simple caffeinated dessert that will help counteract the post-Thanksgiving exhaustion.

By Black Friday, most of us are feeling rather weary from all the family hub bub. Why did we think it was a good idea to seat Aunt Martha next to our artsy neighbor? We’re also possibly feeling a little turkey guilt. What was the rationale behind buying a turkey that big? What the heck are you going to do with the extra 24 dinner rolls you bought at the last minute? 

My remedy for these issues is a simple one. Invite a bunch of friends over, make some festive cocktails, and try the following dishes to present those pesky leftovers in an entirely different light with the fresh flavors of Thailand and Vietnam. With these 5 easy dishes, you’ll be taking care of the leftover conundrum, while you and your buddies have a blast kvetching over family foibles. 

To Start

The Gobbler Cocktail

Years ago, while driving over the river and through the woods to my grandparent’s house, my family caught on to a new family tradition. We were listening to a Chicago radio station and two hilarious DJs made a cocktail on air they called “The Gobbler.” They said it was the ideal remedy for holiday stress and now, as an adult, I couldn’t agree more. 

For 4 cocktails, mix 1 cup Wild Turkey Bourbon, 1 3/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail and pour it into highball glasses. Add a few ice cubes and a float of 7-up or lime fizzy water. They always get the party started and I love how very simple they are—no bitters or exotic liqueurs you’ll only use once. 

The Main

Southeast Asian Turkey Salad with Mint and Crispy Shallots

Let’s be honest, reheated turkey gets old really quickly. Instead of using up the leftover bird in a heavy dish like turkey tetrazzini, I go light. For this main dish salad, I toss shredded turkey with a zingy lime and Thai chili vinaigrette, fistfuls of fresh herbs, shredded cabbage, carrots, and crunchy fried shallots. You can deep-fry your own, but it’s much easier to pick up already fried shallots at your nearest Asian market. Look for them in plastic jars with red lids in varying sizes. I recommend springing for the big jar—they are amazing sprinkled on soups and awesome in salads like this one. 

The Side Dish

Jasmine Rice with Whole Herbs

I always serve fragrant jasmine rice with this sort of salad to round things out. Simply rinse jasmine rice, and cook it in your rice cooker according to the maker’s instructions. To add an herbal flavor and visual interest to the rice, I throw in some lime leaves and a few inches of a lemongrass stalk. Both herbs are available at the same Asian market where you’ll get the shallots, and you can store extras in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

The Other Side Dish

Banh Mi Sliders with Pate 

I put out an appetizer tray of pate and French cheese every year for the holidays, and while the cheeses always disappear, I usually end up with half a loaf or so of country pate. In keeping with the Southeast Asian theme, I use the excess pate to make classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Instead of buying baguette or slider buns, I use leftover dinner rolls. Lightly toast them, and pile on thin slices of pate, grated carrot, a touch of fish sauce, thinly sliced jalapeno, and a smear of mayonnaise. This makes for novel sliders and uses up even more stuff in my fridge. 

The Finish

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee, which is simply strongly brewed coffee with sweetened condensed milk, is a fine dessert all on its own. You’ll need about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk per cup of strong coffee. I like to take the idea to the next level and make it “affogato-style” with a generous scoop of coffee ice cream. I’m a big fan of Talenti Coffee Chocolate Chip gelato, but whatever floats your float is great with this coffee. It’s the perfect finish to combat the post-holiday exhaustion and it’s an effective counter to the tryptophan you just had in that turkey salad.

The Shopping List

Produce

  • 2 limes
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper
  • 1/2 small head Savoy cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 to 3 lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 jalapeno

Grocery

  • 60 fl oz Cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 can 7-up or lime fizzy water
  • Safflower oil
  • Fish sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup fried shallots
  • Mayonnaise
  • Coffee
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Coffee ice cream

Liquor

  • 1 bottle Wild Turkey Bourbon

Leftovers

  • 1 pound turkey meat
  • About 6 oz country pate
  • 8 to 12 leftover dinner rolls

Vietnamese Turkey and Mint Salad with Fried Shallots

Serves 4-6 as part of a meal
Recipe by Ivy Manning

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red Thai chili pepper, minced
  • 1 pound cooked turkey, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup fried shallots

In a large serving bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and chili pepper until the sugar dissolves.

Add the turkey, cabbage, carrot, mint, and cilantro to the bowl and toss to coat everything with the dressing. Set aside for 5 minutes. Immediately before serving, add the mint and cilantro and toss to combine. Sprinkle the peanuts and shallots over the top of the salad and serve immediately.

Photos by Ivy Manning


Ivy Manning is the author of six cookbooks including her most recent title: William Sonoma Weeknight Vegetarian. She is an award-winning freelance food writer and cooking instructor based in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not playing with her retired greyhound Mini and lap Whippet Thor, she travels the world eating every delicious thing that crosses her path. Follow her travels at ivymanning.com and @ivy_manning on Instagram.

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