Food & Recipes

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing Feast + A Week of Leftover Dinners

by Alex Guarnaschelli

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing Feast + A Week of Leftover Dinners

A yummy, kid-friendly Turkey Day meal and 6 more quick, healthy recipes that will put those leftovers to good use

Keep the kids busy while you cook with our "20+ Easy Thanksgiving Crafts and Activities for Kids."

Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: About 4 hours
Serves: 8 

For the bird:

1 14- to 16-lb turkey, innards removed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large piece cheesecloth
kitchen twine

For the stuffing:

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 lb bulk pork breakfast sausage
3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
8 stalks celery, finely chopped
½ tsp each salt and pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, stemmed
10 fresh sage leaves, stemmed
and cut into thin strips
1 tsp dried rosemary
8 oz pepperoni, skin removed, cut into small cubes
1 lb mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Make the turkey:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season the turkey inside and outside with salt and pepper. Tie the legs closed with a piece of kitchen twine, then transfer to a roasting pan with a rack.

2. Soak the cheesecloth in melted butter, then place over the breast to prevent the top skin from burning. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F, and cook for about 15 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. After about 2 hours, remove the cheesecloth from the turkey and place the stuffing in the oven. (See below.) 

3. Allow the bird to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Serve with your favorite gravy.

Make the stuffing:

(This dish can be prepared up to two days ahead or made while the turkey is baking.)

1. In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the sausage, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

2. In the same skillet, add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside with the sausage and reserve the skillet.

3. Toast the bread. Cut into 1-inch squares, and transfer to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter. Toss the bread with the butter, thyme, sage and rosemary. 

4. In the skillet, sauté the pepperoni over medium-high heat until oils are released, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and drain.

5. Toss the sausage, celery-and-onion mixture, pepperoni and mozzarella with the bread. Then add the chicken stock to moisten the ingredients. Place the stuffing in a casserole dish, cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. 

6. Bake with the turkey. Remove the cover for the last 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Drizzle with turkey drippings to keep moist, if you like.

Ideas for picky eaters:

If your child won't go for the unfamiliar stuffing, try reserving  and baking a little of the toasted-bread-and-vegetable mixture without meat and cheese for her own special batch.

6 Meals Ready in Minutes for the rest of Thanksgiving week

Friday: Let's be honest…

You're having a complete repeat of Thursday, or you're going out!

Saturday: Thanksgiving Burritos

Place a line of sliced turkey meat and a dollop of sweet potatoes and stuffing inside a flour tortilla. Roll it up and bake, seam side down, at 350?F for 20 to 25 minutes. Dunk in leftover gravy.

Sunday: Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Chop up leftover light and dark turkey meat. Stir in some cold gravy, salt and pepper. Layer the meat with mashed potatoes in a baking dish, topping with bread crumbs. Bake at 350?F for 35 to 40 minutes. 

Monday: Cranberry-Sauce Pancakes

Breakfast for dinner! Whip up your fave pancake mix. Top them with warmed leftover cranberry sauce, ricotta cheese and orange zest.

Tuesday: Italian Chicken Soup

Heat prepared chicken stock in a large pot. Season to taste, then add precooked chicken slices, spinach and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil; toss in some frozen gnocchi. Cook until they float. Top with parmesan. 

Wednesday: Shrimp Stir-Fry

Place about 16 peeled shrimp in a bowl, and season with paprika, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Heat oil in a large skillet; cook shrimp until no longer translucent. Add fresh spinach and scallions. Serve with rice.

3 More Thanksgiving Recipes:

Potato-and-Brussels-Sprout GratinSweet-Potato Puree with Brown Butter and Classic Pecan Pie

Multitasking mom Alex Guarnaschelli is host of the Food Network's The Cooking Loft and executive chef of the New York restaurant Butter.