What do you like to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? There are lots of solutions that will use up some of the meal — turkey soup, a Dagwood-style sandwich — but as delicious as they are, they don't use everything that was on the table. (Unless you put gravy and cranberry relish on your turkey sandwich?)
My favorite post-Turkey Day, clean-out-the-refrigerator dish uses up everything and is delicious to boot. Introducing the Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie!
How to Make Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie
The process for making Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie is very simple, especially because it's all about assembling already-cooked ingredients.
Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F. Choose either a 8- by 8-inch or a 9- by 14-inch oven-proof pan, depending on how much food you have. Those pretty oval gratin dishes would work nicely, too, or a casserole dish. Even a pie plate if it's slim pickings. Generously butter the dish.
Assemble your ingredients: turkey, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes. Begin by checking the mashed potatoes. They often dry out and stiffen up some, especially if they have a lot of butter and are straight out of the refrigerator. If this is the case, heat them gently on the stove with a splash or two of milk to loosen things up.
Meanwhile, shred (or cube) the turkey into a bowl, then add the gravy. If you have a lot of leftover gravy, don't add it all at once, as it might make too soupy of a pie. There will be a chance to add more as a final adjustment before adding the potato layer. Not enough gravy? Add some milk, cream, or stock. Or, if you're my grandma, a can of cream-of-mushroom soup!
If the vegetables are in larger pieces, cut them up. (Carrots, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and peas are especially good!) Add them to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Adding the stuffing at this point is optional: Some folks like it mixed in, some want to use it as a layer. Ditto for the cranberry sauce. Add a splash of liquid (milk, stock, or water) or any remaining gravy if the mixture is too dry.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top in an even layer. Add the stuffing layer (if that's how you're doing it), followed by the optional cranberry sauce. (Note: I serve the cranberry sauce on the side, as a garnish, since I don't care for hot cranberry sauce.)
Dollop the warm mashed potatoes on top and spread them into an even layer so they cover the entire dish. Using a fork, drag a pleasing pattern over the top of the potatoes and dot or drizzle with some butter.
The Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie before baking.
Pop the dish into the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how large and thick your pie is. You will know it is done when everything is nice and hot and the top starts to brown. Remove from the oven and serve with the cranberry sauce on the side. Enjoy!
A technicality: So okay, this Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd's Pie doesn't contain the entire Thanksgiving meal, since there isn't any pumpkin pie in it. But come on, adding pie to pie would break the universe and we don't want to do that just yet — there are too many Christmas cookies still to bake!
(Image credits: Dana Velden)