This is only the second Christmas where I’ve been in charge of the shopping and the cooking and the first time it’s at my house. I’m really keen to make it extra special but I also want to make sure that no food gets wasted.
To make things more difficult, it’s only a small gathering of three people but I still wanted a full turkey with all the trimmings. I couldn’t bring myself to resort to a turkey crown which would be much more suitable for a small gathering, it just wouldn’t be Christmas for me without a big bird stuffed on the table.
The smallest turkey I could find says it serves 6-8, and even with my gluttonous family, we won’t manage to scoff all 5kg down in one sitting, so it’s a good job that one of my favourite things about Christmas is the turkey left-over concoctions. I used to love sitting down to turkey butties on Christmas evening, already stuffed from lunch, the whole family would always manage to find room for a turkey sandwich in front of the TV, the final indulgence of the most indulgent day of the year.
Christmas is all about tradition and Boxing day tradition at my parents normally involved a trip to the football match. Lunch before we headed off would be simple cold cuts of turkey with some oven chips. Now this might not sound like a gastronomical delight but as a child it was probably my favourite meal of the festive period. The best thing for mum was that having slaved over the oven for the entirety of the previous day, no cooking was involved.
The other child-hood dish I remember that rose out of the turkey remnants was a turkey curry for dad. Mum used to freeze all the dark meat and then a week or so later dad would be in for a treat. The best thing about a curry is if you’re feeling extra lazy you don’t even have to cook it from scratch. There’s no shame in picking up a jar of already made curry sauce for a quick evening meal.
I’ve become a bit more adventurous with left-overs in recent years, boxing day now normally involves a salad; something a bit lighter to give the stomach a rest after the big day. An all round pleaser from recent times has been Jamie Oliver’s Asian inspired turkey salad. A quick simple and palette refreshing salad that not only makes use of the left-over turkey, but also other festive ingredients such as clementines, pomegranates and nuts.
This year, keeping with the festive spirit, we’re going for more of a Waldorf based salad using up turkey, cranberries and walnuts, but the salad munching possibilities are endless. The mantra really is “anything goes”.
In terms of the remaining turkey, I’m definitely going to follow in mum’s tradition and get a curry on the go, the spices in a curry make a nice change to the other flavours ingested over Christmas. We also received some lovely Japanese Ramen bowls for Christmas so I’m hoping to come up with a turkey ramen inspired recipe that I’ll keep you posted on.
There are thousands of recipes that call for left over turkey; casseroles, pasta bakes and soups can all be created from left-overs. A few simple dishes that you can cook up, keep in the fridge/freezer and keep the family fed over the festive break. It’s also not just the turkey that can be re-used, left over vegetables can be frozen, turned into soups or rostis.
Nigel Slater, recently had a great programme on BBC where he used all leftovers imaginable to create a wide variety of dishes including bubble & squeak patties and a delicious sounding perky turkey salad. I also saw a fantastic post from Recycle for Greater Manchester that spent the twelve days of Christmas using up all the leftovers.
There’s so many resources available, on-line, on TV and in print that there really is no excuse for food waste over Christmas and in my opinion you never really can have too much turkey.
So get cooking and it would be great to hear about any left-over concoctions of your own.