You're probably too busy with Thanksgiving to read a column about leftovers today, but save it for later so you won't miss out on why a James Beard Award-winning chef thinks leftovers from this traditional meal taste better.
“I have a theory," said Tony McPhail, executive chef at Commanders Palace. "Why do people always find Thanksgiving leftovers are so good, more so than any other holiday? When people serve at Thanksgiving, they’re nervous about the turkey and cooking for all these people. By the time the food hits the table and everything is Instagrammable, everything is cold. When you have leftovers and put them in the microwave, it tastes so good because it’s actually hot.”
The chef suggests when you prepare to serve your family's favorite recipes today, use oven-safe platters. Right before you’re ready to serve, reheat. Put the rested turkey back in the oven for a few minutes, and make sure the gravy is boiling hot. Try to time the biscuits or rolls so they're fresh out of the oven.
Here’s my theory: Another reason Thanksgiving leftovers are so good is you can give them a makeover. Take that cornbread dressing. Sure, it's delicious the first time around, but have you ever had Cornbread Dressing Waffles? Pressed between the plates of a waffle iron, the edges become crisp and the flavors come to life.
I know the idea of leftover mashed potatoes sounds ridiculous, but I've heard it does happen in some families. So take those leftover potatoes, add an egg to stiffen them, then drop them by the scoopful onto a hot griddle or skillet.
And then there’s hash, a really old-fashioned way to deal with leftovers. Technique is critical with hash, which requires a heavy skillet, lots of butter and patience to let the bottom set and brown to the proper degree. Hash must also be well-seasoned.
And, if your leftovers make it through the night, you can top it with an egg for breakfast.