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Compliments to the chef

Fort Myers Beach chefs weigh in on Thanksgiving and leftovers

November 29, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Thanksgiving has passed and you can kick back from party planning for a month. But now, you've got enough leftover turkey, potatoes and stuffing to feed the family for a week. What can you do with these ingredients besides popping them in the microwave for a week of Thanksgiving on repeat?

We decided to talk to three of the island's culinary artists about their Thanksgiving meals and memories and get their ideas for how to repurpose Thanksgiving remains.

Christian Potts is the executive chef for the highly-anticipated Fish-Tale Marina Waterfront Dining restaurant. Originally from Pennsylvania, Potts came to Fort Myers Beach after heading an upscale restaurant in Naples. Craig Panneton is the executive chef for Jack's Farm to Fork at Pink Shell, an upscale establishment with its signature dedication to using fresh, local ingredients and ethically-sourced proteins. For Thanksgiving at the restaurant, Panneton prepared 40 turkeys and two 60-pound roast beefs. Panneton is from Massachusetts. Eduardo Prieto is the executive chef at Bayfront Bistro. Originally from Mexico, Prieto didn't grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, but he does now: he'll spend the holiday cooking for 600 people at the bay-side eatery.

Article Photos

Craig Panneton, Jack's Farm to Fork; Christian Potts, Fish-Tale Marina Waterfront Dining; Eduardo Prieto, Bayfront Bistro

All three chefs recommended a sandwich, but they each had their own twist.

What's your favorite food to eat at Thanksgiving dinner?

Potts: Stuffing. I make shrimp and chorizo stuffing. You get the spice of the chorizo and the sweet of the shrimp, I make that every year. My uncle makes an oyster stuffing.

Panneton: I'm very traditional. I like turkey, sage stuffing, pie. And I want my gravy.

Prieto: Traditional turkey is amazing. I love the turkey with the cranberry sauce. I love the stuffing stuffing is amazing. I could eat that holiday or no holiday. I like to cook the gravy overnight, roast the bones first to get the nice flavor, throw it in a pot with roasted veggies and herbs and let it reduce.

What is a dish that you always think of when reflecting on Thanksgiving memories?

Potts: Thanksgiving was a big family gathering, we'd play ball outside or Uno. My grandma made bacon-wrapped turkey legs. It's from her and my mom that I got my cooking skills.

Panneton: My mom always made the best apple pies. She stuffed it with so many apples. My sister still makes it.

Prieto: In Mexico, especially Christmas, is when people cook turkey and hams. So now I get to eat that twice. My mom used to stuff the turkey with fruits, raisins and apples. I always think about a traditional dish called barbacoa, which is lamb. You can cook it in the ground with hot stones for hours and hours until it falls off the bone. It's the most amazing thing ever.

So, traditional Thanksgiving leftovers. What would you do to repurpose them?

Potts: Make a sandwich. Specifically that white Wonderbread sandwich bread, and layer everything on there. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, heat it up with the gravy. Or, a turkey soup. Just like a chicken soup but substituting turkey. Save the fat to add some flavor.

Panneton: A turkey sandwich. I'd take the cranberry sauce and mix it with mayonnaise for a spread, then put the turkey, stuffing and gravy on top. That's a great sandwich. Or, turkey a la king. Cube the turkey, warm it in the gravy. Add peas and carrots and serve over the mashed potatoes, or rice or pasta.

Prieto: The mashed potatoes, I would make a soup. I would add roasted garlic, leeks, a little bit of cream, a little Worcestershire sauce, a tiny bit Tabasco. Blend that together and that's an amazing soup. For the turkey left over, maybe an open-faced sandwich. Instead of using regular bread, I would use the stuffing and mash it up to make a bread, shredded turkey and the gravy on top.



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