After digging into a big Christmas dinner, you’re stuffed. And so is your refrigerator.
If you cooked up a holiday feast for family and friends, chances are your fridge is filled with enough leftover turkey, roast beef or ham to last several more days.
To help use up those leftovers, we asked Omaha chefs to share some of their favorite ways to turn them into standout sandwiches. Sandwiches are a quick, convenient option for a post-holiday lunch, light dinner or snack — and you might even prefer them over the original meal.
Convenience, ease of assembly and lots of room for creativity are a big part of the appeal of sandwiches, said Colin Duggan, chef/co-owner of Kitchen Table, 1415 Farnam St.
“They’re limitless,” he said. “It’s whatever you can fit between two slices of bread.”
Buttermilk biscuits make great buns for sliders featuring thinly shaved ham and a layer of pepper jelly for a fiery kick. Sweet, salty and spicy flavors make it a well-rounded sandwich that’s suitable for breakfast or lunch, he said.
For turkey sandwiches, he likes to use a dense, rustic sourdough bread; cranberry sauce with walnuts and orange zest; cultured butter; and coarse sea salt. Replace the turkey with GruyŤre cheese and avocados for a vegetarian option, he said.
Since leftover roast beef has a tendency to dry out, Duggan likes to serve it with an oilier bread like focaccia. He piles thinly sliced roast beef on rosemary focaccia, along with romesco (a nut and red pepper-based sauce), Tallegio cheese and fresh watercress.
The traditional Christmas meal for Matt Moser and his family includes braised short ribs. Leftovers get turned into panini sandwiches, which also work well with roast beef or prime rib.
Moser, executive chef at Plank Seafood Provisions in the Old Market, takes sourdough bread, then adds creamy chive horseradish aioli, aged provolone, celery root and roasted garlic purťe, parsley salad and pickled fennel. He cooks it in a panini press until hot and crispy, but a grill pan works fine, too.
The sandwich packs a range of flavors and textures: creaminess from the purťed celery root and roasted garlic; a bright, acidic note from the pickled fennel; and a crispy outer crust from the bread.
To use up leftover ham, he puts his own twist on the classic Croque Madame — a French ham-and-cheese sandwich. His version consists of honey mustard-glazed ham, prosciutto and wilted arugula on toasted brioche. A rich, creamy GruyŤere mornay sauce covers the sandwich, complete with a fried egg on top.
Though arugula and prosciutto aren’t traditionally used, Moser likes how prosciutto offers a salty contrast to the sweet glaze of the ham. And the addition of arugula, he said, lends a nice peppery flavor that cuts through the richness of the sandwich.
Omaha chefs Paul Urban and Jessica Joyce, who own and operate Block 16, are known for offering a variety of creative sandwiches as daily specials at their restaurant at 1611 Farnam St.
In their kitchen at home, the couple enjoy using multiple holiday leftovers in sandwiches and soups. For a delicious day-after-Christmas sandwich that uses leftover turkey and cranberries, they’ll whip up a batch of curried turkey salad — a twist on chicken salad.
“We like to add a little curry powder to our mayo base with some celery, carrot, grapes, currants and some nuts,” Joyce said. To help cut the richness — and for a sweet and tart flavor — top the filling with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
A good way to use up leftover roast beef is turning it into French dip sandwiches, Joyce said. Save the jus from your roast and use it to reheat thinly sliced beef, or for dipping the sandwich into later.
Cut a baguette in half, then slice it lengthwise (but not all the way through), then either toast or broil it. On one half of the bread, she places a layer of mashed potatoes mixed with a little horseradish and caramelized onions that have been deglazed with red wine and leftover cranberry sauce. On the other, she piles on the thinly sliced beef.
Jared Clarke, chef-owner at Railcar Modern American Kitchen, 1814 N. 144th St., also likes to incorporate several holiday leftovers into one sandwich.
In a skillet, he sautťs thinly sliced prime rib or roast beef, then serves it on a crusty baguette with a layer of mashed potatoes, creamy horseradish and crispy fried onions. For mini turkey sandwiches, Clarke uses leftover Parker House rolls, cranberry sauce, three-year aged cheddar and whole-grain mustard.