Kitchen Makeover! Using up Christmas leftovers Part I


For mums everywhere, Christmas is an event that requires military levels of organisation and Olympian levels of energy. There are presents to buy, wrap and distribute, and family dynamics to negotiate.

But the job which probably takes up the most effort, time and money is the planning, shopping, cooking and clearing up involved in festive feeding.

Christmas is, after all, as much about having a fridge so full the door won’t close, as it is about having a pile of presents under the tree. And although we seem to spend the festive period continually eating, there are always mounds of leftovers that need recycling if they (and your hard work and money!) are to avoid ending up in the bin.

So, rather than think of leftover dishes as second-class culinary cousins, think of them as gifts that save you time and money – you don’t need to buy key ingredients from scratch and much of what you’re going to cook with is already prepared and ready to go.

But to guarantee that the reappearance of the sprouts, ham or stuffing is met with a cheer not a groan, it’s worth giving your leftovers a radical makeover and injecting as much flavour and texture into the recycled recipe as possible.

If you’re making a turkey soup, think about adding pulses or pasta for extra body, or if you’re making bubble and squeak, throw in some fresh herbs, chopped spring onions and plenty of seasoning.

In this spirit, we’ve written “recycle recipes” for those Christmas leftover classics, Ham or turkey soup and Turkey curry, which are guaranteed to pack a punch.

Curried turkey and peanut stew

Picture the scene – you enjoyed a huge turkey lunch on Christmas day, you tucked into cold turkey and ham on Boxing Day and you relished the turkey sandwiches you had on the following two days.

But now, five days after Christmas, you still haven’t made much of a dent in the pile of turkey in the fridge and the thought of another turkey sandwich is not exciting. The answer to this conundrum in houses across the nation lies in that Christmas stalwart, turkey curry.

The crucial thing with a turkey curry – and this is true of leftovers in general – is to inject as much culinary cunning as possible into the recipe so that the end result is fundamentally different to the thing it started out as. So keep this in mind later this month when you’re wondering what to do with all that turkey…

This recipe takes inspiration from the curries of South East Asia with ginger, peanuts and plenty of spices.


2 tbsp flavourless oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 red chilli or more to taste, deseeded & finely chopped
8cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
30g butter
800g celeriac peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
400g tin chopped tomatoes
500ml turkey stock
225g peanut butter
225g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
800g cooked turkey meat, roughly shredded
Bunch coriander, roughly chopped
4 sprigs mint, roughly chopped


  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions, stir now and then and allow to soften and start to brown – this will take about 5 minutes.
  • Add the butter and once it’s melted throw in the celeriac.
  • Brown the celeriac for a few minutes then turn the heat down and add the chilli, ginger and garlic and stir well.
  • Cook for a couple of minutes then add the ground coriander and cayenne and stir.
  • Turn up the heat, pour in the white wine vinegar and allow it to almost entirely evaporate.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, turkey stock and 400ml water.
  • Stir well until the curry comes up to a simmer, cover and allow to cook gently until the celeriac is just tender.
  • Add the turkey just before you want to serve and allow to warm through.
  • Season to taste and then stir in the coriander and mint and serve with rice.

Next week, Part II of this makeover will include a great recipe for Ham or turkey soup.