What to do with Christmas dinner leftovers, according to chefs

So you’ve enjoyed your Christmas dinner but there’s always more food than you need.

Leftovers are one of the best bits after the main festivities are over – but you need to maximise them.

Turkey and veg can be used in lots of different ways, and you don’t just have to stick to a tasty sandwich on Boxing Day.

We asked some top chefs to tell us how they turn the waste into.

Chefs at Tom Hixson of Smithfield

There always seems to be plenty of turkey leftover and you can make it last for a few days by whipping up some meals with different flavours.

The team at Tom Hixson said: ‘Traditionally turkey is bought as a full crown or butterfly meaning there’s a chance that there’ll be a good amount leftover at the end.

‘Whether you usually make a turkey curry or even opt for the likes of a ham and turkey sandwich, try these this year and be wowed.’

The chefs suggest:

  • Turkey enchiladas – Roll spicy turkey mixture into tortillas and make turkey enchiladas that are ideal for a Boxing day buffet
  • Turkey & ham pie – If you also cooked some pork, this Christmas leftover pie is a great idea to make the most of both portions of meat
  • Turkey noodles & turkey rice – Simple but tasty, add turkey to noodles or rice with your choice of sauce and serve with veg

When it comes to vegetables, the chefs say there’s even more meals you can create.

Favourites include:

  • Christmas veggie tray bake – A great idea for all leftover vegetables, cooking up a Christmas veggie traybake is easy and can be prepared in advance before heated up
  • Root vegetable bowl with lentils – Take the likes of leftover carrots and parsnips and mix them with lentils, spinach and herbs for a bowl of tasty goodness
  • Parsnip and carrot dhal – A veggie twist on an Indian classic; swap meat for parsnips and carrots from your Christmas dinner  

Tom Aikens, chef patron at Muse

Tom is a fan of the leftover sandwich but for him, another tradition is a baked pie with puff pastry.

He says: ‘Here’s a simple one which will work with whatever leftover Christmas meat (turkey, ham even goose) you’ve got in the fridge.

‘Make a basic bechamel, add some leeks & mushrooms, a dash of cream, grainy mustard and parsley. Then add all the white & dark meat, cut up into smallish pieces.

‘Pop into a pie dish, cover with defrosted puff pastry, brush with egg yolk and bake at 200c for 20 mins.’

Richard De La Cruz, head chef at Arros QD

Coming from Majorca, Richard has a slightly different take on the leftover meal.

He says: ‘In Majorca, we tend not to make a pie or curry as you do over here with the leftover meat. We mix it with onions, garlic and herbs to make meatballs or use it as a ravioli filling.

‘We serve it in a traditional Christmas soup, made a lot lighter with a broth base made from the bones. 

‘Also using the poultry bones, we roast them down, add fresh vegetables and make a rich stock for a paella for a Boxing Day lunch. Boxing Day in Spain is for spending time with friends rather than family, so we all get together and share a big paella between us, it’s delicious and a very easy one pot dish to make.’

Will Blank, chef at Top Cuvée

After all that cooking, leftover meals should be quick but tasty.

Will says: ‘Don’t throw anything away, left over sprouts and potatoes make a good colcannon.

‘Chop up your sprouts and roasties, add some stuffing and gravy and bake in the oven until golden – delicious!’

Chef Neil Rankin

Working with Aldi, Neil explains how versitile leftovers can be.

He says: ‘Whether its Turkey or Vegan Pastry, there’s more to do with leftovers than sandwiches. I like making a fried rice the next day.

‘Shred your turkey and toss though cornflour once chilled and shallow fry till crispy. In a wok, fry some precooked and chilled rice and add a little sesame oil, ginger and any leftover veg and finish with your fried roast on top.’

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