Fine FoodsFiner ElementsRecycling Christmas Day Leftovers

Salvaging the leftovers on Boxing Day serves as a minor reprieve for the post-holiday blues—get inspired by our delicious leftover meal concepts

By Phoebe Ollerearnshaw

As a result of frantic Christmas preparations, it isn’t uncommon for us to over-cater for our guests. Our rationale: surely over-catering is preferable to under-catering? Imagine the awestruck expressions on the family’s faces when you explain that their favourite side dish has run out. Unthinkable. Instead, we pack our fridges to breaking point and prepare a meal fit to feed an army of ravenous soldiers. But what to do with the remnants of your festive banquet? Leftover recycling has become increasingly popular in the last few decades. In fact, many people consider it as much a part of tradition as Christmas Day itself. Allow us to inspire you with our ingenious tips and tricks for making sure none of the food you have carefully sourced goes to waste.

Cranberry & walnut banana loaf

Use leftover cranberries for a twist on the classic banana loaf. Add washed cranberries along with chopped walnuts to your usual banana loaf batter. Bake and slice once cooled. Decorate with icing and garnish with whole cranberries on top. Scoff with a warming mug of mulled wine—perfect for winding down after Christmas.

Leftover turkey chilli 

If you are left with a sizeable amount of turkey, you may wish to use it for a more substantial meal. Strip the turkey and shred the meat with a fork. Use any root vegetables that remain, combine them with kidney beans and chillies. Add a tin of tomatoes and extra chilli powder to taste along with a cinnamon stick and bay leaves for fragrance. Stew the mixture for an hour or two. This can be accompanied with rice or mashed potato. Substitute another meat in place of turkey if you wish, or make a vegetarian version with some extra vegetables or tofu. Sit back and relish this perfect winter warmer.

Warming Boxing Day soup 

There aren’t many solutions to your leftovers conundrum that are quite so straightforward as making a soup. Soups are quick, easy and delicious. Use the remaining meat you have (whether that is turkey, gammon, goose or lamb) and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Pool together the remaining vegetables and use them to fill out the mixture. Combine with stock, some fresh herbs and a few extra spices. You can opt for a broth-style soup or blitz the mixture for a thicker consistency.

Christmas croque monsieur 

If you are feeling particularly indulgent, why not make yourself a Christmas croque monsieur? Include all of the scraps of turkey or gammon meat you can find. Combine with stuffing and cranberry sauce and layer with any aged cheeses that have been left over from your cheeseboard. Gruyere, Stilton, Camembert and Brie work best. Whip up some béchamel and spread a thin layer of mustard on the bread—pop under the grill and enjoy. Add a fried egg on top to morph it into a croque madame. 

Festive bubble & squeak fritters 

Fritters are a perfect solution if you have a varied mix of leftovers; squash, cabbage, stuffing, turkey, ham, peas and any other sides work well. The core ingredient is mashed potato—if you have none left, fix up a quick batch and add in all the other ingredients you wish to include. Each batch can be customised to the chef’s taste—feel free to include cranberries or cheese if desired. Flatten into small round patties and fry in a pan with a little oil. The fritters should be crisp on the outside and piping hot in the middle.