Asheville chef Steve Goff shares tips for repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Steve Goff prepares chicken feet at Jargon in West Asheville June 24, 2021.

Steve Goff can't tolerate food waste. At Jargon in Asheville, North Carolina, where Goff is the executive chef, vegetable stems get transformed into cheese-plate-worthy pickles. When Goff was the force behind the now-defunct King James Public House, he kept jars of beer to ferment into vinegar. 

It all stems from when Goff, once a train-hopping mohawked punk rocker, would often have hungry days. Rationing jars of peanut butter tends to give a person a certain reverence for each bite

That extends to the holidays, when making too much food is practically part of the celebration. But there's nothing glamorous about leftover potatoes on Black Friday. That's where a chef's touch comes in.

"In the past, as a restaurant owner, I have typically been open on Thanksgiving, so reprocessing Thanksgiving food is well within my repertoire," Goff told Southern Kitchen.

Here, Goff provides some ideas that can help anyone create a low-waste Thanksgiving, including a recipe for potato croquettes. 

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry vinaigrette 

Cranberry vinaigrette is a great stand-in for raspberry vinaigrette. It's especially at home on a spinach salad with goat cheese crumbles and sweetened pecans. 

"I take the cranberry sauce and purée it in my Vitamix — about one cup cranberry sauce to one cup cider vinegar — and emulsify canola oil into it until it’s a nice and smooth vinaigrette," Goff said. "This typically takes about two cups of oil."

Simply pour the sauce and vinegar into a blender or food processor, and then pour the oil in a thin stream while actively blending the mixture until it all comes together into a vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Turkey stock and soup

Turkey stock is a no-brainer for taking your leftovers the extra mile. Goff goes a step further and creates a rich turkey soup, finished with sherry and fresh herbs.

First, he simmers all of the leftover turkey parts and bones in water with aromatics such as onion, celery, carrot and bay leaf. Once the stock is rich and flavorful, about two hours, Goff picks all the meat off the simmered bones and sets it aside. 

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In a heavy-bottomed pot, he makes a dark roux, folds in diced peppers, onions and celery, adds the reserved meat and stock and brings it to a simmer. Once the vegetables are soft, he finishes the soup with sherry and fresh herbs. He might even thicken the soup with pureed cooked turkey livers if they didn't already go in the gravy.

"Leftover gravy folds perfectly into this soup," Goff said. "This can be served as-is, or over reheated mashed potatoes.

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Turkey Chimichangas

This one takes a bit more prep, but the chef says it's worth it.

"I love, love, love making turkey chimichangas," he said. "I pick all the leftover turkey meat, mix (in) cream cheese and either rice or stuffing and then roll it up in six flour tortilla shells and fry. If you have leftover gravy, it makes an awesome dipping sauce for this."

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Deviled Egg Aioli

It's hard to imagine leftover deviled eggs, but if you find yourself in that unlikely predicament, Goff has a solution: creamy, rich aoili, which would be perfect with asparagus, seafood or even just smeared on a sandwich. 

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"I simply purée (deviled eggs) with a little more mustard, paprika and vinegar, then stream oil into the food processor until you get a really awesome aioli," he said.

Don't be afraid to add minced garlic and chives to punch up the flavor. 

Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Crust

Pie Milkshakes

Leftover pie? Another unlikely scenario. But you might want to save some slices this year so you can make these rich-sounding pie milkshakes.

"I love to take any of our pies and purée them, then make milkshakes with the pie purée and vanilla ice cream," Goff said. "Whiskey goes pretty well in these too."

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Simply puree pie in a blender, add some ice cream, and then add milk until you have the right consistency. Pumpkin pie milkshakes with a shot of bourbon? Sign us up. 

Thanksgiving leftovers potato croquettes

When in doubt, add breadcrumbs and fry.

That's the method behind these mashed potato croquettes, which are endlessly customizable. 

"These potato croquettes are super easy and totally modifiable with whatever leftovers you have on hand," Goff said. "For this, all you really need are mashed taters, egg wash, flour and bread crumbs."

You can add any number of ingredients to the potatoes, he said, including shredded cheddar; leftover shredded turkey; leftover stewed greens; diced holiday ham; a touch of yogurt, and even green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup.

"If you think about it, cream of mushroom is a relative of bechamel and bechamel is the traditional base for Spanish croquettes," Goff said. 

Ingredients

For egg wash:

2-3 cups all-purpose flour 

Salt and pepper to taste 

2 eggs

5 tablespoons milk

2-3 cups breadcrumbs or saltine crumbs

For the croquettes

Leftover mashed potatoes and any other additional ingredients you want to incorporate into your croquettes.

Canola oil for frying (2 quarts, more or less, depending on pot size)

Instructions

For the breading station:

Whisk together flour and salt and pepper, and set it in a pie tin or bowl.

Whisk together egg and milk, and set it in a pie tin or bowl.

Add the bread crumbs to a third pie tin or bowl.

This is the order in which you'll dredge your croquettes. Pro tip: put plastic wrap underneath this station for easy cleanup. 

For the croquettes:

Depending on how buttery your mashed potatoes are, you may need to add some cream or milk. They should be firm enough to hold together but neither stiff nor soupy.

From here you can modify as needed, adding cheese, chopped ham, turkey or other ingredients. If I were starting with 3 cups of mashed potatoes, I might add 1 1/2 cups of green bean casserole and just smash it together with my gloved hands.

Note that it’s always easiest to work with cold ingredients.

Take your leftover potato mixture and use a scoop to get nice even-sized croquettes. Hand-forming them like meatballs works fine too.

Next, drop the mashed potato mixture balls into the flour, making sure to get a good roll on. Then get them fully covered into the egg wash. Next roll them in the breadcrumbs until they're fully covered. 

Deep fry at 350 until browned and warmed through (about 8 minutes). Remember that all the ingredients are already cooked so you’re really just heating everything through. Serve with a side of brown gravy for dipping and you are set!