Christmas is a time for joy and giving, but it’s also dominated by eating. Here we reveal how to make the most of any leftovers you have available this festive season.
We have all been there – probably every Christmas – with more food bought than we can possible eat, and some of it landing in the waste bin.
With restrictions recently tightened around who we can see and when over the festive season, there will no doubt be many among us who bought for larger numbers than are now allowed to join us.
Wasting food is not only bad for your pocket with the cash you literally just throw away, it also impacts on the environment with a huge proportion of food waste that goes to landfill turning into methane gas which contributes to global warming.
Love Food Hate Waste Scotland estimates that half a million potatoes will to be thrown away on Christmas Day, more than 100,000 turkeys will be leftover on the big day, around 67 million meals will go to waste in Scotland this December, and more than £11.5 million pounds of meat and poultry alone will be thrown away throughout the festive period.
Staggering numbers that will hopefully make people try and waste less this yuletide.
By being prepared and employing some easy tricks, you can make your Christmas Day relatively stress free and also waste less.
Follow these simple hacks:
- It is safe to freeze food such as chicken or turkey right up to the use-by date, and then defrost in the fridge when required.
- Fresh meat including turkey should be frozen in an airtight container or wrapped well. Either defrost in the microwave using the “defrost” setting or thaw in the fridge overnight and cook within 24 hours.
- Milk can be frozen in an ice cube tray to create the perfect tea-sized portion and added to a hot drink straight from the freezer.
- If eggs are nearing their expiration date, yolks and whites can be separated and frozen. With the yolks perfect for enriching omelettes, the whites can be used for sweet meringues.
- Bread can be frozen either as a whole loaf or as the last few slices in the bag. Slice the bread up and loosely tap on a hard surface before freezing to prevent the frozen slices sticking together. Bread can then be toasted straight from the freezer.
- Boil uncooked potatoes for about five minutes, cool and then freeze. When needed, thaw overnight and roast the next day. Mashed potato also freezes really well. Let the mash cool and then freeze in an airtight container.
- Bakery goods including pies, tarts and cakes – except those with fresh cream – can be portioned or sliced and frozen. Portions can then be defrosted and reheated.
- Try making a big batch of cauliflower or broccoli cheese and split into individual portions for freezing. This is a great option if the veg isn’t going to last much longer or you’ve bought too much. It’s very tasty with garlic in the cheese sauce, then topped with breadcrumbs and parsley.
If you do have great produce leftover, fear not it still has an important part to play in your dining over the next few days with these amazing recipes, the first from Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean.
Brussels sprouts and pigs in blankets hash
- 200g pigs in blankets (sliced in half)
- 500g rooster potatoes, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp oil
- 4 eggs (free range)
- 1 bunch flat parsley, shredded
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Dice the potato and fry until golden and crisp.
- For the poached egg, ¾ fill a pan with water and add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
- Taste the water to make sure it’s sour – it is vital that the water has some acid in it as it helps to set the egg white.
- Bring the pan of water to the boil before turning down to a simmer.
- Place each egg into a ramekin and gently lower into the vinegar water before poaching for 2-3 minutes.
- Once cooked, place the eggs into ice cold water. This gets rid of the vinegar taste and stops the egg cooking. Once cold, drain onto a tea towel or kitchen paper.
- Reheat in a pot of fresh salted simmering water when everything else is ready.
- Add the halved pigs in blankets and cook until they start to crisp up, then add the crushed garlic and cook out for a couple of minutes.
- The last thing to add is the shredded flat parsley.
- Divide your mix between four dishes and top with your poached egg.
Leftover Christmas dinner puff pastry pizzas
- 2 packs chilled ready-rolled puff pastry
- Chopped up cooked or roasted Christmas Day leftovers e.g. turkey, ham, chipolatas, sprouts, parsnips
- Cranberry sauce
- Pizza sauce
- Leftover cheeseboard cheese e.g. cheddar, goats cheese, Stilton
- On a floured board, carefully cut the pastry sheets into rounds using either a plate or plastic cup as a template.
- Using a knife, gently score a border around 1cm from the edge all the way around the perimeter of each of the pastry rounds, being careful not to cut too deeply.
- Place the pizza bases on a non-stick baking sheet, working in batches depending on size.
- Build the pizzas using either the cranberry sauce, or pizza sauce, and then top the pizzas with the leftovers, and finish with a sprinkling of cheese.
- Bake the pizzas in a pre-heated oven (220°C / 200°C fan) for around 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
- Serve with a side salad.
Leftover Turkey Pad Thai
- 200g flat rice noodles
- 250g leftover roast turkey meat, roughly chopped or shredded
- 3 tbsp ground nut or light vegetable oil
- 1 shallot or small onion, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 pack fresh coriander including stalks, finely chopped
- A good handful of any thinly-sliced crunchy vegetables you may have in the fridge e.g. carrots, radish, peppers, mange tout
- 5 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways
- 100g bean sprouts
- 60g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- Lime quarters to garnish
For the pad Thai sauce:
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2-3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Soak the noodles in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- To make the sauce, stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the ground nut oil in a wok on a high heat.
- Add the shallot, garlic, chillies and spring onions and fry for a few seconds.
- Add the soaked noodles and about 50ml water.
- Fry for a few minutes, then add the pad Thai sauce.
- Stir in the leftover turkey and sliced vegetables.
- Heat through and toss well to mix.
- Serve immediately with a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves, raw bean sprouts, lime quarters and chopped peanuts.