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What to do with Christmas leftovers: 3 chefs offer top tips to transform them into more delicious dishes

  • Treats include turkey salad, meatballs with stuffing, a frittata with vegetables and Christmas pudding chunks mixed with vanilla ice cream and then frozen
  • Turkey can be chopped up with veggies, mixed with egg to make bubble and squeak or chopped and mixed with milk and breadcrumbs to form croquettes
PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2018, 11:14am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2018, 11:17am

Christmas Day is over and you’ve feasted until you cannot eat another thing.

However, you still have leftovers – and you don’t want to waste them.

It’s a conundrum that we have all found ourselves in, but, according to three Hong Kong chefs, these leftovers can be a blessing. All that is needed is a little creativity.

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“It’s always possible to label and freeze fresh leftovers in batches to enjoy later, but if you want to get creative, there are some easy ways to transform leftovers into new and exciting dishes,” says Nealy Fischer, founder of The Flexible Chef.

The online food platform is focused on simplifying people’s approach to cooking so that it fits in with the rest of their life, and adapting recipes while being super-healthy at the same time.

Let’s talk turkey

When it comes to holiday leftovers, Fischer has plenty of ideas – particularly when it comes to turkey.

“Shred turkey to top off a great salad, stuff in wraps, or make sandwiches to go,” she says.

“Add bits to butter lettuce leaves and top with pesto and some veggies for a fun pre-dinner bite. Also, save turkey carcass and bones to make a soup.”

Taryne Napolitano, founder of catering company Relish Kitchen, which offers fresh, high-quality, original yet approachable cuisine, also has plenty to say about turkey leftovers.

“You must always roast more turkey than you could possibly eat,” she says.

“Try to use your turkey leftovers within three days or freeze [them] if you need a break between your turkey feasts.”

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Her turkey feast suggestions include “the quintessential turkey sandwich; bread smeared with soft roasted pumpkin, the other slice with pate and lashing of chutney, cheeseboard trimmings, a crisp lettuce leaf to fool yourself into lightness and, of course, turkey”.

She says: “My foodie friend Mika makes the most incredible Japanese turkey curry, my sister does a turkey scramble, and I love a little turkey cranberry filo bite. For the kids, I highly recommend turkey and ham croquettes.”

Keith Hooker, the new executive chef at the modern restaurant Aberdeen Street Social, in Central, Hong Kong, which serves modern, British-inspired cuisine using the freshest, best-quality ingredients, puts his leftover turkey to good use by turning it into bubble and squeak, turkey and leek pie, turkey curry, or turkey and cranberry sandwiches.

‘Freshen up’ stuffing

Stuffing is one of those things that is often left over after the feasting is done, as it’s a bit of an acquired taste.

It’s always possible to label and freeze fresh leftovers in batches to enjoy later, but if you want to get creative, there are some easy ways to transform leftovers into new and exciting dishes
Nealy Fischer, founder of The Flexible Chef

While you might feel as if there is no hope for your stuffing post-Christmas, the truth is, it’s surprisingly versatile, Fischer says.

“Use it in place of breadcrumbs when making beef or turkey meatballs; simply add an egg, shape into little balls, and bake for a few minutes; fill ramekins with a little stuffing, crack an egg on top, sprinkle on a little Parmesan cheese and any other desired seasonings and then bake to perfection!”

Revive your vegetables

“Whether you’re left with raw broccoli and bell peppers from a veggie platter or cooked green beans and carrots, there are many flexible ways you can jazz them up and re-serve,” Fischer says.

“Pop them in a large wok for a stir-fry, shred them for a veggie hash, chop them up and use in frittatas, or mix them in with ground meat for veggie-filled meatballs or burgers.”

Hooker says leftover vegetables can also be used to make a nice soup “spiked to your liking” while Napolitano suggests turning them into a vegetable frittata.

Delightful dessert

Steamed Christmas pudding is another holiday dish that does not appeal to everyone.

For Napolitano, who comes from New Zealand, the pudding holds a certain nostalgia.

“It was a Commonwealth tradition to spike our Christmas pudding with coins, so as a kid I would force it down to get as much spare change as possible,” she says.

“The incentive is not so high now that I’m a grown, working woman.”

She suggests breaking up leftover Christmas pudding into chunks, then stirring them into softened vanilla ice-cream and freezing the mix.

“Bring to a simmer 50 per cent cream and stir in 50 per cent plain chocolate,” she says.

“Then dollop your sauce hot over your festive, frozen ice-cream and place a cherry on top.”

If you are still not sure what to do with your leftovers, our chefs have made it simple to reuse them thanks to their easy-to-follow Christmas leftover recipes/

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The Flexible Chef’s turkey salad with maple pecan vinaigrette

For the salad:

Mixed greens of your choice

Dried cherries or cranberries

Pecans or any nuts

Leftover turkey, cubed

For the dressing:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp maple syrup

2 cloves garlic

1 handful pecans

Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:

Crispy onions

In a large serving bowl, toss the salad ingredients together. Set aside.

In a speed blender, add all dressing ingredients and blend on high until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust quantities to suit your taste.

Dress salad and add a generous handful of crispy onions on top.

[video of her making this recipe:]

Relish Kitchen’s turkey croquettes

(Recipe by Antonio Oviedo, executive chef, Relish Kitchen)

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra oil for deep-frying

4 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk (heated with a grating of nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon and white pepper)

150g (5.3 ounces) turkey leftovers, finely chopped

50g dried cranberries, finely chopped

2 eggs (whisked)

2 tbsp breadcrumbs (dried)

Lightly oil a shallow 8-inch (20 centimetre) square dish. In a saucepan, heat the 2 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and, using a wooden spoon or whisk, mix well. Continue to stir or whisk for about two minutes, or until the flour is well blended.

Add half a cup of the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the remaining cup of milk. Cook, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk, for about five minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Decrease the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Add the turkey and cranberries, then stir.

Cook for one minute longer and then pour the contents of the pan into the prepared dish. Spread the mixture evenly.

Let it cool down for a bit and then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight to allow the mixture to set.

Try to use your turkey leftovers within three days or freeze [them] if you need a break between your turkey feasts
Taryne Napolitano, founder, Relish Kitchen

Spread the breadcrumbs on a dinner plate. With two spoons, shape the turkey mixture into walnut-sized croquettes. Roll each croquette in the breadcrumbs, shake off any excess crumbs and then dip into the beaten egg.

Lift each croquette from the egg and roll it again in the breadcrumbs, coating it evenly. Lay the croquettes in a single layer on a platter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before frying. Pour the oil to a depth of about 2 inches into a wide, deep, heavy pot and heat over high heat.

When the oil is almost smoking, slip five or six croquettes into the oil, pressing on them gently with a slotted spoon to submerge them, and fry, turning them gently, for about two minutes, or until they are golden on all sides.

Using the slotted spoon, lift out the croquettes, holding them briefly over the pot to allow the excess oil to drain, and transfer to an oven proof platter lined with paper towels to drain further.

Keep the croquettes warm in a low-heat oven.

Fry the rest of the croquettes in the same way. Always make sure the oil is very hot before adding more croquettes.

When all the croquettes are fried, arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Keith Hooker’s turkey bubble and squeak

200g turkey

50g stuffing

100g pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon)

100g carrots

100g parsnips

500g roast potatoes

1 beaten egg

2 diced shallots

50g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Sweat shallots in butter for five minutes or until soft.

Roughly chop up all the leftovers and mix with the shallot and parsley.

Add the beaten egg and season with salt and pepper, then shape in to burger-shaped patties and refrigerate for one hour to firm up.

Pan fry over a medium heat in vegetable oil until golden then finish in oven to make sure the inside is piping hot. Serve with cranberry sauce.