The Very Best of Leftovers

Let's be honest with ourselves. As much as we all love a good roasted turkey and hot mashed potatoes slathered in an embarrassment of gravy, the greatest thing about Thanksgiving is the day-after leftovers. There's just something so deeply nourishing and satisfying about second-life Thanksgiving food, re-purposed for sandwiches, soups, and the like. While the leftovers pastime has largely been confined to at-home lore, restaurants in Chicago are keeping the holiday spirit alive all week with some leftovers-inspired specials for you to keep the feast alive. 

(Turkey breast at Tanta)

Tanta: When you're hankering for Thanksgiving leftovers, think outside your fridge. Like, way outside your fridge, all the way to Peru. Fortunately for you, you need not travel to Peru to partake in some Peruvian inspired leftovers. Head to Tanta to try their special turkey breast dish the day after Thanksgiving (it's available until November 30 actually). This South American riff is stuffed with mushrooms, bacon, and prunes, glazed with cranberry aji panca sauce, and served with grilled vegetables. Even if you're totally turkey'd out, it's sure to keep you hungry.

The Gage: Soups and sandwiches are the quintessential post-Thanksgiving leftovers fodder. And if you're looking to up the ante on your homemade hodgepodge, visit The Gage the weekend following Thanksgiving to get your special fix. The restaurant will be serving a leftovers-inspired soup made with turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, and potatoes, as well as a special sandwich made with duck pate, grilled yams, and cranberry mustard. They're available individually or as a soup and half sandwich special for $14, both of which make for handy fuel amidst the downtown shopping melee.

Bottlefork: Two words for you: stuffing fritters. In case these alone aren't enough of a hook, muse over the fact that said fritters come with gravy sauce for dipping. And they're both served alongside a Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich heaped with turkey, cranberry, and stuffing at Bottlefork. This hefty plate is available through November 29. 

The Winchester: We know there are still those of you who would rather stay home and get crafty in your own kitchen. But you can still apply a little restaurant-inspired verve with recipes fresh out of restaurant kitchens. To help home cooks embrace their creative side, The Winchester's chef Greg Bastien has stewed up a recipe for post-Thanksgiving pot pie, which is as follows: 

Pie crust:
2 Cups all purpose flour, sifted, plus more for rolling.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8oz chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 Cup ice water
Place 1C flour and kosher salt into a kitchen aid mixer with paddle attachment.
Turn the mixer to low and add the butter a small hand full at a time.
When all butter has been added, increase speed to medium until fully incorporated.
Reduce speed to low, add remaining flower just to combine.
Add water (no ice) and mix until fully incorporated..
Pack dough into a 7-8 inch disk, wrap in plastic, refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days.
when filling is ready and cooled to room temp roll dough to 3/16 of an inch. refrigerate.
The filling:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks leeks,(whites only) chopped and washed
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups turkey stock
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups shredded turkey
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons picked thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt butter in saucepan and cook chopped onion until tender. Stir in leeks, celery and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add turkey stock and vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until tender. Stir in turkey, parsley, thyme and peas. Pour mixture into casserole. Let cool to room temperature. Top with pie crust, cut away excess and brush with egg. Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden.

- Matt Kirouac