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Wondering what to do with Christmas leftovers? Let Richard H Turner help

Don't stress about what to do with Christmas leftovers. Instead, revel in the joy of festive feasts and learn how to champion your leftovers

What to do with Christmas leftovers: Richard H Turner on how to use your leftover food

I want to let you in on one of my Christmas loves: leftovers, the possibilities of which bring joy to my heart. If I'm cooking at home, the traditional Christmas Day roast is really just the route to creating delicious things from the remains.

How do I make the most of leftovers? Oh so many ways.

Richard H Turner on what to do with Christmas leftovers

1. Potting meats

Potting meats is an excellent way of keeping leftover goose, ham or turkey, but you do need to think ahead, and buy goose or duck fat before the festivities take over and the shops shut.

First, I strip the carcass of all meat and place in a cast iron casserole. I then chuck in the gravy and chop in any leftover stuffing and – in the unlikely event that any are still left by this point – even pigs in blankets. Top this off with a tin of goose or duck fat, cover, and place in a low oven – say 120c – overnight. The following morning, remove from the oven and mix thoroughly to redistribute the fat and meat – any gravy should have reduced to an intensely salty goo. Taste to make sure it's not under-seasoned, and if it is then correct this.

Over-seasoned is ok as it will remedy itself when cold. Pack this into glass jars and cover with a layer of goose fat to seal, then refrigerate for a few days to allow the potted meat to mature. If you want to keep it for longer than a few days, you can sterilise your sealed jars in a cardboard-lined pan of boiling water, or in a steamer.

2. Make the most of your vegetables

Next up is to find a use for any leftover vegetables, and the obvious path to plump replete here is a good hash or bubble and squeak.

Years ago, I might have made hash or bubble and squeak in a bowl, which I'd then form into patties. These would make attractive – if slightly twee – cakes to fry and sit pretty upon the plate, perhaps as a base for a piece of meat or fish.

The Christmas Day roast is really just the route to creating delicious things from the remains

Huw Gott of Hawksmoor put me straight on this – the only way to make a truly great bubble and squeak is to chop the ingredients and fry in dripping or goose fat. First, though, a raw onion should be chopped and sweated down to a soft golden brown in a non-stick or proved cast iron pan. Next add the leftovers and allow to slow fry over a low heat with occasional tossing, all the time singeing and caramelising to sweet unctuousness. At this point you might add some of your potted leftover meat, toss again and serve in an entirely unpresented pile, topped perhaps with two dripping-fried free-range eggs and a sauce boat of hot gravy on the side – provided there's any left, of course.

3. Get inventive

And now to a sordid secret that will have all French chefs rolling their eyes and turning the page, consigning me to the realms of lazy English cooks. But I don't care; these are my leftovers, in my home, after all. Sometimes in the cold depths of January, I'll open a can of baked beans, fold in a jar of potted Christmas goose or ham, and place the resulting concoction into a cast iron dish. I then mix breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, extra goose fat and some chopped parsley to layer over the top, which I bake to a bubbling golden brown. Et voilà – cowboy cassoulet! I can feel the disdain of the French as I write…

4. Plus, pimp up your puddings

Finally, while there's not much you can do with leftover mince pies, Christmas pudding or cake, once the day itself has passed I like to eat them with crumbly Lancashire cheese – Mrs Kirkham's, if at all possible.

5. Embrace recipes you love - festive or not

Having waded through Christmas day with the ravenous hordes of relatives, you're now cooking purely for yourself – recipes, conventions and rules can be completely eschewed. And let's face it – you owe yourself these comforting leftover pimps after what you've been through.

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