Christmas in Los Angeles

Poor leftovers. They get such a bad rap. Nobody wants to eat them, so they end up hanging around for what seems like an era until someone finally throws them out. Tragic. I weep.

December is the worst time of year for leftovers due to all the holiday parties. Either you hosted the party, and can’t pawn the stuff off to your guests fast enough, or you are the guest who can’t say no to mounds of turkey, ham, and stuffing. This year I was the guest, and was sent home with half a 20lb turkey, almost an entire ham, stuffing, THREE types of casseroles, FOUR types of pie, and cornbread. All of this was now loitering in my fridge.

There was officially no room left. Something had to be done. I needed a plan of attack. Otherwise I feared the leftovers would band together and swallow us whole in our sleep.

It had to be simple, tasty and different. I didn’t want to buy more food and accoutrement (you love the french, don’t you), just so I could get rid of what was in my fridge. And so, the plan unfolded…

Target #1: Honey Baked Ham

What I already had:

Ham, milk, flour, butter, Gruyere cheese, bread, mustard, Parmigiana Reggiano

What I had to buy:

nothing

Reinvention:

the best damn Croque Monsieur ever. This is basically a French ham and cheese, but cheesier. The cheese can be swapped out for whatever you have on hand, such as Swiss, Cheddar, and Provolone. Go hardcore and add a fried egg on top, and it’s a Croque Madame.

Croque Monsieur Recipe

Croque Monsieur Recipe

adapted from Ina Garten
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 c milk
5 c grated Gruyere
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
mustard (preferably one of the Dijon variety)
ham
white bread (I recommend a nice dense sourdough)

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 2m. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat, add 1/2 c Gruyere, Parm, salt, and black pepper. Mix.

Place slices of bread on baking sheet and toast on both sides in oven. (Yes, a toaster works fine too but I don’t own one.) Once toasted, remove from oven. Slather one side of half the bread slices with mustard. Top mustard with ham. Sprinkle with grated gruyere. Top with other slice of bread. Spread top of sandwich with 1/2″ layer of the cheese sauce, then with more gruyere. Oh the cheesiness! Bake for 5m. Place under broiler until bubbly. Serve with a bit of salad. Good freakin’ eatin’!

Target #2: Turkey

What I already had:

turkey, chicken stock, bay leaves, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, dried oregano, corn tortillas, onion

What I had to buy:

chipotles in adobo (smoked jalapenos), available canned in all supermarkets in the Mexican section. Can also substitute with fresh jalapenos.

Reinvention:

Turkey “Carnitas” – Carnitas┬áis traditionally a Mexican dish of pork that is slowly simmered in a stock of various spices and vegetables, and then eaten with tortillas. This is my turkey version.

Turkey carnitas recipe

Turkey “Carnitas” Recipe

2 tsp cumin
4 sprigs cilantro, left whole
3 chipotles in adobo, seeded and finely chopped(for heat, leave the seeds of one)
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 qt chicken stock (or turkey if you have it)
1 small onion, quartered
4 c cooked turkey, shredded (or whatever you have)

Combine all ingredients except for the turkey into a deep pot. Boil stock for 15m. Add turkey. Simmer for 1 hour until liquid has reduced by half and turkey is infused. Serve with tortillas and salsa.

Turkey tacos recipe

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