Panini Sunday: Thanksgiving Leftover Paninis

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I’m not sure there is a more repeated and beaten to death concept than what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers. As the host of the holiday, I have the proceeds of the largest cut of leftovers, including all of the remaining dark meat. It’s just how it shook out. Everyone can blame The Wife and The Mother-In-Law, who dished out care packages that afternoon while I was washing the mountain of dishes in my sink.

Anyhow, back to what to do with leftovers. Turkey sandwichs are fine, but eventually you get bored with turkey, mayo and whatever else you can cram into the heel of an Italian bread or between a couple slices of rye. Turkey empanadas are good, as is turkey soup if you saved the carcass (I did not. I got so angry carving it that, by the end, I was ripping the skeleton apart by hand to free up any last molecules of turkey meat.). I’m also a big fan of tossing everything on a plate, drowning it in gravy and eating it with a spoon.

Anyhow, back to something practical you can do with the turkey. Chances are you have more than just turkey, but stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, and that gravy. Get yourself some good cheese and a loaf of ciabatta, and you have yourself a panini in the making.

WHAT WORKED: Gravy, though I didn’t have any leftovers of my own. That was long gone. I picked up a container of Plainville heat-and-serve gravy at Wegmans. Once it thawed, I spread a thin layer of it on the bottom of the bread. After a few minutes on the panini press, it reconstituted itself in all of its luscious glory.

WHAT DIDN’T: The Wife. She gave away all of the damn cranberry, which would have gone really well with the dill havarti and other ingredients.

EASE OF PREPARATION: Very easy. Stuff a loaf of bread then heat. Doesn’t get better than that.

BEST FOR: The Sunday night after Thanksgiving as you contemplate returning to your place of employment and life of disappointment.

SERVE WITH: A bowl of heated gravy for dipping.

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Thanksgiving Leftover Paninis
By Jared Paventi

  • One loaf of ciabatta bread
  • 8 oz. turkey gravy, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing
  • Cooked turkey, dark and white meat
  • 3 oz. havarti or other creamy mild cheese, sliced

Preheat your panini press according to the manufacturer’s directions

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Cut your bread lengthwise on one side and open up on a clean work surface. Spread a thin layer of gravy across the bottom of the bread with a spoon. Roll handfuls of the stuffing with your palms and press into  thin patties. Lay on the bread and repeat until the gravy is covered. Top with a layer of turkey, followed by the cheese. Fold the bread over and grill at least 8, but up to 10, minutes.


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