Here you are, the day after Big Turkey Day, facing all those containers of leftovers stuffed into your refrigerator. Wastehater that you are, you resisted throwing half of them out last night. So now you’re stuck. Honor commands that you deal with them creatively, dazzling your family and friends with your ingenuity. But you’re tired, and you really don’t want to be bothered looking through piles of recipes. What better way than to fall back on two of the most basic procedures for easily rescuing leftovers: white béchamel sauce and homemade mayonnaise.
Béchamel, which you probably know under the name of white sauce or cream sauce, is ground zero for hundreds of hot dishes made with cooked food, from simple creamed pasta sauces to a binding base for croquettes or fillings. It is so easy, and you have probably been doing it for years anyway, but if you need a reminder about how to go about it, here’s my recipe.
White Béchamel Sauce
(makes about one cup)
In a sauce pan, melt over medium heat, 2 Tbs. shortening (butter is best)
Stir in 2 Tbs flour until smooth.
Add, stirring vigorously 1 cup milk or stock (preferably heated) and a pinch of salt and pepper, if using just milk.
Bring to the simmering point, stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes. You can shorten the time if you are in a hurry, but be sure that the mixture comes to a simmer, so that the flour will be cooked. If it thickens too much, gradually add a little more milk. This will be your all-purpose sauce. Its uses are endless.
Now for The Bird. Everybody’s all-time favorite is turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day. Sounds incredibly simple. It is, except you really need a good mayonnaise to set off the delicate meat flavor. Do you really want to ruin it with commercial mayonnaise loaded with sugar and heaven-knows-what? Of course not. Especially when you can so easily make your own. You will need a blender.
Jocelyn Deprez’s Homemade Mayonnaise
This needs to be a constant in your fridge, as its wonderful flavor will boost the blandness of any leftover. The ingredients should be as cold as possible, as the processing will warm them up.
(Makes about 1½ cups)
1 cup vegetable oil (not olive)
Put in blender:
1 tsp. mustard, Dijon style
1 tsp. salt
A pinch of pepper
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. of the oil
Process at top speed for about 15 seconds. Then, dribble the rest of the oil, very slowly, into the center of the mix while continuing to process at top speed. If it becomes too stiff, stop the process and scrape the sides before continuing. If it seems too soft, don’t worry; it will stiffen up in the fridge*. You can add a spoonful of olive oil at the end if you like that flavor.
Depending on your usage, you can make 2 to 3 batches at a time, as this mayonnaise keeps a long time in the fridge. You can divide it up and keep another jar or two of your mayo mixed with other seasonings, e.g., crushed garlic, herbs, extra lemon juice, etc.
* However, if it turns to soup, which it might do on a hot day or if you have added the oil too quickly, put it aside and start all over again with a new batch. When you have completed the second batch, keep processing and add your runny mix by teaspoonfuls. You will end up with a double batch, which you might have intended anyway!
NOTE: This tasty mayonnaise can be used as an emergency quick cold sauce. For example, mix it with a little water and lemon juice, add a pinch of dried tarragon, and serve it over cooled asparagus.
Or dilute it with a little water and vinegar and pour it over warm, sliced potatoes.
Or mix it with a little vinaigrette and use it as a dip for artichokes or over asparagus.
As for those iconic turkey sandwiches, I feel that they do not need much more elaboration, beyond your tasty homemade mayonnaise, than maybe a few lettuce leaves, possibly a little crumbled crisp bacon, perhaps a little squirt of mustard (remember there is mustard in the mayo you have just made!). Thinly sliced cucumbers work, too.
At issue is the delicate flavor of the meat, which you do not want to smother with a lot of conflicting flavors. As much as I love tomatoes, I don’t think they do much to enhance a good basic turkey sandwich. But to each his or her own taste, so pile it on if you like. And, oh yes, don’t forget the bread: if possible, use whole grain and fresh, made with no extra sugar!