9 ways with Christmas leftovers

by Melissa Stewart

04 December 2017

Cut down on your food waste this Christmas with these ideas from some of Devon's top chefs

Turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas puds, cheese boards, trifle… Yes, Christmas really is a food lover’s dream. But what to do with the leftovers? Here, Devon’s top chefs and producers share their secrets to avoiding festive food waste…

Chris Tanner, chef and co-owner of Plymouth-based brasserie Barbican Kitchen says: “Leftover turkey has quite a few uses, and not just in sandwiches! Try using it as part of a delicate miso broth with noodles and pak choi, finished with a few sesame seeds – a great healthy alternative after the festive season.

“Also, crumbling leftover stuffing into a little tomato passata, along with some fresh basil, is the perfect accompaniment to pasta. Don’t forget to finish with a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

“If you have some Christmas pudding going spare, cut a few figs into quarters and place in an oven-proof dish with some crumbles of pud. Drizzle with a little honey and brandy, along with a sprinkle of chopped almonds and pecans, before baking at 180C. To really indulge, pour over some double cream – it is Christmas after all!”

Gill Meller, executive head chef at River Cottage says: “At some point between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, I’ll always make the last of the roast ham into a big hearty gratin, which we will usually tuck into after a big wintery walk. I make a rich white sauce with the ham stock, cream, mustard and parsley, into which I add softened leeks and all the leftover roast ham. This all gets piled into a baking dish and topped with some breadcrumbs and a generous grating of any Christmas cheeses we still have sitting around. It’s delicious with a simple salad and good bread.”

Anna Bury, sales and marketing director and part of the Eversfield Organic founding family says: “We always boil up our turkey bones. It means a little extra effort after the dinner on Christmas Day but we make a rich broth in the pressure cooker. It’s amazing with any leftover turkey meat and a hunk of sourdough bread to dunk in it.

“The rest of the trimmings go into a massive bubble and squeak which we fry up in a big skillet. Served up with loads of cranberry sauce and our organic honey roast ham, you really can't beat it. If the leftover pigs in blankets have made it this far they are a great addition, brushed with sweet mustard and warmed up in the oven.”

Riverford Field Kitchen chef, Bob Andrew , says: “Leftover roasted roots can form the backbone of a robust winter salad. Parsnips, carrots or beetroot work especially well. Start with a good mix of bitter, peppery and mild salad leaves as a base. Toasted nuts, seeds or croutons will give a crunch to proceedings. Cooked and cooled pulses and grains such as puy lentils, spelt, farro, and chickpeas will lend a bit of bite as well as bulk. Crumble in some cheese and something sweet like sliced apple or dried fruit. Make the dressing sharp and punchy. Some of our favourite combinations are beetroot, apple, hazelnut and blue cheese; carrot, chickpeas and mint with tahini dressing; and parsnip, lentils, date and chestnut.

“There always seems to be an excess of braised red cabbage. Although it can be easily reheated, consider a second life as a cold condiment. The spicing has much in common with most respectable chutneys. Try adding a dash of red wine vinegar to give it a pickled edge and serve it alongside leftover cold cuts, or tuck a little into a roast beef or ham sarnie. A wee dab in a cheese toastie works too, provided the cheese is strong and sharp.

“Soups, stews and broths are ideal vehicles for using a selection of scraps. The most obvious is a simple bowl of miso soup. It has a deeply savoury flavour and tastes hugely restorative. A few shreds of leftover turkey and handful of greens is all you need to counter the excesses of the previous day. Add some noodles and a bit of stock and it starts to become a ramen bowl and will welcome a bit of chilli and maybe a soft boiled egg. A Malaysian laksa or Thai curry would work well too. Most things will complement the key notes of coconut, lemongrass, lime and chilli; I’d avoid red cabbage, beetroot or anything that has heavy Christmas spicing.”

Mark Kersey, chef at Oddfellows , says: “We make a lovely roasted turkey soup by picking away any turkey meat still on the carcass, then making a stock by roasting the carcass off with some vegetables. Then tip it into a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for four hours, skimming the stock as you go, then passing through a fine sieve.

“Then, begin a simple roux in a pan by melting some butter and adding flour a bit at a time, then slowly add your turkey stock to make a veloute. Cook for about 15 minutes and season, add the turkey meat and any leftover stuffing, then finish with a little cranberry sauce and some croutons. Happy days.”

Kirk Gosden, Rockfish head chef , says: “If you have some turkey left, a turkey BLT on granary is one of my favourites – crispy bacon, thinly sliced turkey, tomatoes and finely sliced lettuce with fresh homemade mayonnaise. The vegetable and stuffing leftovers makes for a splendid bubble and squeak for breakfast the next day. I have even eaten this with Christmas pudding in the mix which was unusually great with leftover baked ham and fried eggs. Turkey a la King was what we used to make after Christmas at the first hotel I worked in, which I loved. Simply sauté onions, garlic, yellow and red bell peppers with turkey veloute and fresh chopped parsley, and serve over steamed rice.

Mitch Tonks, Rockfish and Seahorse restaurant chef proprietor and food writer says: “I make my mum’s turkey stew every year, it was the highlight at Christmas. Cook the leftover turkey carcass in a pressure cooker with a tablespoon of chicken Bovril. Then strip the meat from the bones and simmer with some leeks, carrots, onions and a handful of small noodles. Season with loads of black pepper and enjoy the comforting experience!”

Treby Arms chef Luke Fearon says: “Leftover chocolate (would you believe it!) is a big one in my house. I make lots of choc chip cookie dough for the freezer and a rich hot chocolate mix for the shelf. Then you are never 15 minutes away from the perfect winter pick me up!

“For the choc chip cookie dough, I cream 100g butter and 125g sugar and then add in one egg, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 200g self-raising flour, a pinch of salt and the leftover chocolate broken into chunks. Roll in cling film to form a sausage shape and freeze. When you want cookies, just slice 1cm discs from the frozen dough. Remove the cling film and arrange the dough on a baking tray to allow room for spreading. Cook at 170C until golden brown but still gooey. Enjoy!”

Joshua Ackland, head chef at Glazebrook House Hotel says: “As kids, we used to make ice cream sundaes with the leftover Christmas pudding, mince pieces, tins of chocolate, trifle and clotted cream ice cream and custard. Sometimes, if lucky, a splash of Bailey’s! I liked to think of it as a pick ‘n’ mix dessert sundae.”