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Chefs to the Rescue for Thanksgiving

What to cook for the big day, and what to do with all those leftovers. Plus, recently rated Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs

Laurie Woolever
Posted: November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving is next week, and the countdown to cooking has begun in earnest. Will you make a traditional brined, stuffed and roasted turkey? Here's a helpful recipe to guide you. Perhaps you'd like to try your hand at a sous-vide bird? Let Chicago chef Graham Elliot show you his method. To finish off the meal, here are great recipes for a walnut tart with Port zabaglione cream from chef Gina DePalma and an apple compote tart from Michel Richard.

When the dust settles on the big meal, there are a lot of dishes to wash—and quite often, a lot of leftovers. If the thought of a warmed-over plate of sliced turkey and potatoes doesn't thrill you, fear not: We asked a few chefs to come up with a more exciting way to use up all that extra turkey and were rewarded with a delicious take on banh mi (the popular Vietnamese sandwich that's traditionally based on roast pork) and an elegant salad in which turkey leg confit, greens, figs and goat cheese are dressed in a clever "gravy" vinaigrette. They shared their recipes below. And a handful of other chefs from across the country divulged their tricks for dealing with leftovers as a jumping-off point for your own kitchen creativity.

Of course, we've got wines: American selections, as befits the holiday. Below are 10 recently rated Chardonnays, $35 or less, whose full body and robust fruit make them a good choice for a table full of rich holiday foods, and 10 Pinot Noirs, priced at $32 or less, whose refined tannins, moderate alcohol levels and balanced load of fruit, herb and spice make for a good overall Thanksgiving companion.

If you've already got your wines chosen, and want to make sure the flavors on the table work in harmony with what's in the glass, here are some tips for wine-tuning the meal for whites and for reds.

Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Banh Mi with Thanksgiving Turkey

Recipe courtesy of chef Jenn Louis, Lincoln Restaurant, Portland, Ore.

• 1 large baguette or 2 torpedo rolls
• 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
• 1 tablespoon sambal ulek (condiment of red chile peppers, vinegar and salt, available in Asian grocery stores; may substitute Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce)
• 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
• 1/4 large cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
• 1/3 green jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
• 1/4 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
• 6 Turkey Croquettes (recipe below)
• Daikon and Carrot Pickles (recipe below)

1. Slice the baguette or rolls lengthwise, leaving one side attached, to act as a “hinge.” If using a baguette, cut it in half to form two sandwich rolls.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cranberry sauce and sambal ulek and whisk well to blend. Spread half of this mixture on the inside of each roll or baguette half.

3. In a small bowl, combine the cilantro leaves, cucumber, jalapeño and onion and toss gently. Fill each baguette half or roll with three turkey croquettes, and then top sandwiches with the cilantro leaf mixture and the daikon and carrot pickles. Serves 2 to 4.

Turkey Croquettes

• 1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes, cold
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 cup turkey, cooked and finely chopped (not minced)
• 1 egg, plus 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water
• 2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
• 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 scallion, thinly sliced
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs or panko
• Vegetable oil, for frying

1. In a medium bowl, combine the mashed potatoes with the 2 tablespoons oil, the turkey, the 1 egg (not whisked), ginger, garlic, scallions and salt and pepper. Fold the ingredients together until just combined. Gently roll the mixture into six evenly-sized balls. Place them on a sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Fill a large, high-sided pot with enough oil to deep fry croquettes (about 3 inches). Heat the oil to 350° F.

3. Place the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs each in their own shallow bowl. Gently whisk the cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper into the flour. One at a time, roll the chilled croquettes very lightly in the flour, then in the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs, making sure that coating is not thick, but fully coating the croquette. Slightly flatten each croquette after it has been coated with flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Using a frying basket or long-handled tongs, gently lower each croquette into the oil, making sure to not overcrowd the pot. Fry until the coating is golden and crisp, and the croquettes are warmed throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and quickly drain on paper towels before serving. Makes 6 croquettes.

Daikon and Carrot Pickles

• 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced peeled daikon
• 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Place the carrots and daikon in a small bowl and set aside. In a small pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the sesame oil and pour the hot liquid over the carrots and daikon. Weigh the vegetables down with a small plate or another bowl so they are fully submerged in the liquid. Allow the vegetables to cool in pickling liquid. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 cup pickled vegetables.

Turkey Stuffing Salad

Recipe courtesy of chef Troy Guard, TAG, Denver, Colo.

• 1/2 cup turkey drippings (juice only, no fat)
• 2 tablespoons acacia honey
• 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 4 tablespoons mixed snipped herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley)
• 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 8 ounces mixed greens
• 2 ounces soft goat cheese, divided into four equal portions
• 4 dried figs, quartered
• 4 ounces white bread, no crust, torn into small pieces and lightly toasted
• 12 ounces Turkey Leg Confit, pulled from the bones (recipe below)

1. In a bowl more than large enough to hold all of the greens, whisk together the turkey drippings, honey, vinegar, oil, herbs, shallot and salt and pepper. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, then add the greens and toss to evenly coat. Divide the dressed greens, cheese, figs, toasted bread and Turkey Leg Confit evenly among four chilled plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Turkey Leg Confit

• 2 cooked turkey legs
• Reserved turkey fat
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 sprig thyme
• 2 dried figs, cut in half
• 3 juniper berries
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1. Preheat the oven to 225° F.

2. Place the turkey legs in as small a roasting pan as will fit them both. Cover the legs with the reserved turkey fat, using additional olive oil or other fat as necessary so that legs are covered. Distribute the garlic, thyme, figs, juniper berry, salt and peppercorns around the legs and cook one hour in the oven. Remove and let the meat cool in the pan. Makes about 12 ounces

More ways to use your Thanksgiving leftovers:

  • At Hatfield's in Los Angeles, chef Quinn Hatfield smokes turkey legs, which are then used to garnish a butternut squash soup with crisp black trumpet mushrooms.
  • Paul Fehribach of Chicago's Big Jones serves a spicy turkey gumbo over leftover mashed potatoes or stuffing.
  • Jason Brumm, chef at Merchants in Nashville, Tenn., makes a white turkey chili with roasted hatch chiles, tomatillos and white beans, with griddled tortillas alongside.
  • Manuel Treviño of New York's Marble Lane uses leftover turkey breast in place of roasted pork in a Cuban sandwich.
  • John Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a much-lauded smoke joint based in Syracuse, N.Y., with outlets in Rochester, Troy, Manhattan and Newark, N.J., makes a crisp turkey-poblano hash cake and tops it with a poached egg.
  • And Eli Collins, executive chef at DBGB Kitchen and Bar in New York, thickens his post-Thanksgiving turkey soup (based on a turkey carcass stock, naturally) with leftover stuffing, adds roasted root vegetables and cooked turkey, and finishes it with a small scoop of cranberry sauce that adds an acidic punch of contrast to the soup's richness.

RECOMMENDED CHARDONNAYS $32 OR LESS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

ROMBAUER Chardonnay Carneros 2010 Score: 91 | $32
This ripe, exotic style boasts gobs of fruit but also a measure of finesse. Ripe, sweet-tasting flavors of pear, fig and tangerine are intense and focused, leading to a long, clean, lingering finish. Drink now through 2017. 70,000 cases made.—J.L.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Chardonnay Columbia Valley Indian Wells 2010 Score: 90 | $17
This sleek, appealing white brims with lemony pear and spice flavors, finishing with a refreshing lilt and surprising intensity. Drink now through 2015. 20,000 cases made.—H.S.

COLUMBIA CREST Chardonnay Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Polished, lively and refined, with pretty white peach, floral and oatmeal notes that come together smoothly and linger on the finish. Drink now through 2015. 200,000 cases made.—H.S.

WATERBROOK Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Fresh and lively, with a creamy edge to the pear and passion fruit flavors, lingering on the deftly balanced finish. Drink now through 2015. 11,400 cases made.—H.S.

BUEHLER Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $16
Initially intense, yet turns delicate, with white peach, nectarine, honey, cinnamon and light oak. Very complete. Drink now. 15,000 cases made.—J.L.

SEBASTIANI Chardonnay Sonoma County 2010 Score: 88 | $13
Bold, ripe, assertive and complex, with tiers of fig, honeydew, spice and light toasty oak. All in all, a good quaffer with some personality and style. Drink now through 2015. 65,000 cases made.—J.L.

JAM Chardonnay California Butter 2011 Score: 87 | $15
Offers a pleasant buttery, toasty edge to its ripe melon and honeysuckle notes. Measures up to its name. Drink now through 2015. 7,500 cases made.—J.L.

CHALONE Chardonnay Monterey County 2010 Score: 86 | $12
Clean and simple, with direct, snappy green apple, pear, spice and honeydew melon flavors. Drink now. 65,069 cases made.—J.L.

HOGUE Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 Score: 86 | $11
Refreshing, with pretty lime and pineapple flavors, finishing bright. Drink now. 44,338 cases made.—H.S.

14 HANDS Chardonnay Washington 2010 Score: 85 | $12
Soft and refreshing, with pretty pear and spice flavors. This picks up a pineapple note as the finish echoes quietly. Drink now. 100,000 cases made.—H.S.

RECOMMENDED PINOT NOIRS $32 OR LESS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

THE FOUR GRACES Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 Score: 91 | $32
Lithe and open-textured, framing its delicate currant and plum fruit with hints of lilac and cream, lingering gently on the refined finish. Drink now through 2016. 7,000 cases made.—H.S.

ARGYLE Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 Score: 90 | $25
Light in color and texture, this Pinot displays pretty watermelon and cherry flavors that ride smoothly over velvety tannins, hinting at mint as this all lingers enticingly. Drink now through 2016. 20,000 cases made.—H.S.

A TO Z WINEWORKS Pinot Noir Oregon 2010 Score: 89 | $20
Light and refreshing, open-textured and inviting, offering raspberry, tea leaf and spice flavors that linger delicately. Drink now. 80,233 cases made.—H.S.

BELLE GLOS Pinot Noir Monterey-Santa Barbara-Sonoma Counties Meiomi 2010 Score: 88 | $22
Aims high stylistically, offering candied black cherry and wild berry notes that turn firm and loamy, gaining depth, yet ending with a drying tannic edge. Drink now through 2020. 57,000 cases made.—J.L.

ROUTESTOCK Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 99W 2010 Score: 88 | $20
Light and tangy, refreshing for its lively acidity against guava, Italian plum and delicate spice flavors. Lingers nicely. Drink now through 2014. 6,000 cases made.—H.S.

VILLA MT. EDEN Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2010 Score: 88 | $20
A rich, graceful style that's elegant and polished, with supple, juicy black cherry and wild berry fruit that's clean and pure. Drink now through 2018. 8,100 cases made.—J.L.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Whole Cluster Fermented 2011 Score: 88 | $22
This light, silky Pinot exhibits a candied edge to the raspberry and watermelon flavors, finishing with a touch of nutmeg. Drink now. 21,200 cases made.—H.S.

CHALONE Pinot Noir Monterey County 2010 Score: 87 | $15
Firm and well-structured, with a crushed rock and loamy earth edge to the snappy dried berry flavors. A flinty edge marks the finish. Drink now through 2016. 40,151 cases made.—J.L.

KUDOS Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 Score: 87 | $15
Light in texture, with vivid blackberry and passion fruit flavors competing for attention and lingering on the finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases made.—H.S.

UNDERWOOD CELLARS Pinot Noir Oregon 2010 Score: 86 | $12
Light and fresh, this offers delicate black cherry and floral flavors that echo nicely on the refined finish. Drink now. 14,000 cases made.—H.S.

Mark Railton
Hingham, MA —  November 27, 2013 4:07pm ET
Riesling is always a good pick.
Plenty of American selections.
I prefer the Finger Lakes district.

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