The Delights of Christmas Leftovers

Will you be tucking into turkey and all the trimmings this Christmas? I’m looking forward to serving up our home-grown vegetables on Christmas Day which – amazingly – are still alive despite the sub-zero temperatures here in Essex. Now, I don’t mean to spoil your appetite, but what about the leftovers? Does the thought of eating ‘turkey surprise’ for weeks on end make your stomach ache? Recently my other half DJ and I have been thinking up ways to tackle the festive food mountain.

Here are six ways to avoid wasting festive food:

1. Skip the turkey. I may have uttered a yuletide heresy here, but no law says you have to have turkey. If you secretly don’t like it, why not eat something else, like roast beef, a pie or even a curry? If you do opt for turkey, don’t buy a huge bird. Pick a smaller one and you won’t be eating it for a week.

2. Go oriental. Last year we discovered a great recipe for turkey leftovers which also works with chicken or duck. Get some flour wraps, cucumber, spring onions and a little Hoisin sauce. Chop the cucumber and spring onion into sticks (I believe the foodie term is ‘Julienne’), then break up the leftover chicken, duck or turkey into a bowl. Warm the wraps in the microwave for 40 seconds, put a dollop of Hoisin on each wrap and add some leftover meat, cucumber and spring onion. You’ll feel like you’re enjoying crispy fried duck (or turkey) in a delicious Chinese restaurant.

3. Have pancake day early. Pancakes make a frugal but tasty meal. Fry up some fresh veg as a filling – adding soy sauce and some chilli to give it zing – then warm the turkey leftovers through towards the end of cooking. Getting everyone to make their own pancake breaks up the cooking and makes it fun, too.

 4. Make your own stock. Boil up the turkey or chicken carcass to make home-made stock. It’s really easy. Throw the carcass into a large pan, add some herbs, vegetables, garlic and fill the pan with water. Boil for 3-4 hours, skim the scum off the top regularly and leave to cool. Use it to make yourself a winter-warming soup. Why not make a Japanese ramen soup? Not only is it tasty (and a great hangover remedy) but it will boost your immune system through the winter months. You can freeze stock or it will keep in the fridge for two or three days. 

5. Use up your desserts. If you make your own mince pies, it’s easy to end up with excess mince meat. Make a big mince meat tart using short crust pastry and serve it with ice cream or cream. Frying up leftover Christmas pudding with some goose fat is a favourite dish of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s. Christmas cake will also keep for months stored in a cool, dark place.

6. Too much veg, ma’am? If you have too many potatoes – many of us buy for a siege at Christmas – put them in a sack and store them somewhere cool away from the light. If you have a garden, you can ‘heel in’ excess carrots and parsnips by planting them in the soil (make sure they’re undamaged or they may rot) – assuming you can dig through it in this cold weather!

Got any other ideas for using up Christmas leftovers? Why not leave a comment and let me know?
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