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Top Tips And Recipes For Thanksgiving Leftovers From Philadelphia Chefs

Thanksgiving Dinner
(credit: Thinkstock)

Ask a group of people what the best part of Thanksgiving is and half are likely to say leftovers. In fact, most home cooks buy larger turkeys than they need just so they can send guests home with extra. Here, some of Philly's brightest chefs offer their recipes and tips to make the most out of that turkey-day surplus.

The Corner
102 S. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 735-7500

John Taus, the executive chef of Center City's The Corner restaurant, an inviting place known for its reimagined American comfort food, offers a few tips from his growing-up years in Allentown. His aunt makes sandwiches she calls moist makers.

"It's basically leftover dinner rolls with leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce," said Taus, "She serves them cold."

But he says they can also be warmed in the microwave.

"My mother has a little trick that is amazing," said Taus. "When she is making pie dough for Thanksgiving, she always makes extra for two pies and throws it in the freezer. After Thanksgiving, she will take all the leftover gravy and thicken with a little leftover mashed potatoes, turkey, corn and what ever else she has laying around and makes turkey pies. These are delicious."

About Chef John Taus: Hailing from Allentown, Pa., Taus has worked in many of Phily's big restaurants, including Buddakan, Morimoto, Pod and Zahav. Before opening The Corner, Taus was executive chef at Snackbar, earning it the coveted three bells from critic Craig LeBan.

124 S. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 732-3501

Over at Sampan, chef Michael Schulson's modern pan-Asian restaurant in Center City, he said he is looking forward to Thanksgiving. He says it's the " I'm in love with." Schulson said he likes to take the leftovers and turn them on their heads.

"It's the only time I eat leftovers, but they have to be in a different form from how I had them the night before," he said.

Thus, his turkey banh mi with spicy mashed potato aioli and pickled Brussels sprouts on a banh mi roll. It's so easy, you'll wish you had more turkey surplus.

1 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooked Brussels sprouts, cut in half (or try green beans)
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 banh mi roll, toasted (or a baguette)
6 ounces thinly sliced turkey
Cranberry sauce (optional)

1. Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil. Add sprouts, turn off heat and let pickle for two hours.
2. Mix the mashed potatoes with sriracha sauce and heat in the microwave. Spread each side of the roll with potatoes. Layer on turkey and sprouts. Add cranberry sauce if desired. Cut in half and enjoy. (Serves one.)

About Chef Michael Schulson: No stranger to the small screen, Schulson has appeared on the Discovery Channel's G"o Ahead, Make My Dinner," TLC's "Ultimate Cake Off," and "Pantry Raid" from the Style network. He has also been a guest on talk shows, such as "The Today Show," "The View," "The Martha Stewart Show," "Live! with Regis and Kelly," "Rachel Ray" and "The Tyra Banks Show."

Sweet Freedom Bakery
1424 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19146
(215) 545-1899

Jen Kremer, from Sweet Freedom, Philly's first gluten-free, vegan bakery, says, "Kept air tight, our goodies last for several days and they freeze really well too. When all the family and friends are gone though and you are looking around to finish the clean-up and realize that some cookies or cupcakes sat out a little too long. ...Turn that into a yummy crumb cake or decadent bread pudding. By adding a little semi-sweet (gluten-free of course) chocolate chips to the mix or even melted and drizzled on top you can salvage just about anything."

About Sweet Freedom Bakery: Sweet Freedom is free from many things: gluten, eggs, dairy, refined sugar, soy and most nuts. Co-owners Heather Esposito and Alison Lubert opened their shop in early 2010. It has easily become the most covered gluten-free bakery in the media, appearing in Philadelphia Magazine, the NBC10! Show, Philly's City Paper and ABC News. Lubert took her show on the road in January of 2011 and appeared, with her cupcakes, on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" as well.

Related: Top Chefs Heating Up the Culinary Scene in Philadelphia

723 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-9070

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, chef-owner of Morimoto and Food Network star, has a novel approach to leftover mashed potatoes. He and his family enjoy Japanese mashed-potato soup. Morimoto heats the leftover mashed potatoes in a saute pan with butter and half-and-half, then covers it with hot dashi (Japanese soup stock). Sprinkle on some grated wasabi and chives for a true Morimoto family comfort food.

About Chef Masaharu Morimoto: Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Morimoto was about to be drafted as a catcher in Japan's version of major league baseball when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury. He started learning the art of sushi making, eventually opening his own restaurant in his hometown. Now, in addition to being a TV star and iron chef, Morimoto has opened restaurants across the country.

Le Virtu
927 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 271-5626

After visiting Italy last year, Joe Cicala of Le Virtu came back with great ideas for both the Thanksgiving meal and its leftovers. After the holiday, he noticed natives using turkey stock and making turkey soup with escarole, like a stracciatella soup. They mixed an egg with pecorino cheese and black pepper, "kind of like egg drop soup," he said. Make sure the stock is bubbling when you add the egg mixture, and then stir well to break up the egg pieces.

About Chef Joe Cicala: Another athlete turned chef, Joe Cicala's childhood dream was to be a hockey star. A detour sent him to Italy, where he became adept in real Italian cooking. Back in the states, he worked under Mario Batali, eventually landing his own executive chef position.

Related: Top Pubs Serving Seasonal Beer in Philadelphia

Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at

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