What to do with those Christmas dinner leftovers...

Wondering what you will do with any of your Christmas dinner left overs? Kate Ryan has some tasty ideas
What to do with those Christmas dinner leftovers...

Why not make a tasty pie using left over turkey or ham?

THERE is an inevitability about festive leftovers, and secretly, I budget for a certain amount of them just so I can indulge in getting creative with some equally, if not more, delicious dishes the second time around!

When you’re dealing with leftovers, the majority of the cooking has already been done, so anything you make afterwards takes minimal effort — which, let’s face it, is what we all want and need over the Christmas period!

It’s generally my strategy anyway to go all out on the Big Day, and then revel in make-y-up-y dishes for the days that follow, leaving plenty of time for binge-watching box sets and bracing walks on the beach.

Here are some recipe ideas...

A pie is a great way of using up meats from Christmas Day.
A pie is a great way of using up meats from Christmas Day.

Deep Dish Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

This dish uses up the last of the white meats, and the luxurious sauce keeps everything succulent and tender. So, when you have finally hit the turkey and ham sambo wall, this turns whatever is left into a dreamy dinner. The only real shortcut here is the puff pastry because a good quality shop bought one is hard to beat.

Make use of whatever size and depth of pie dish you have to hand — it doesn’t matter, but the deeper the better, and chicken for turkey is fine.


1 medium white onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

350ml whole milk

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

Grating of nutmeg

Knob of butter

1 leek, washed, trimmed and sliced into 1cm thick rounds

Handful of mushrooms brushed and cut into quarters, (I prefer chestnut mushrooms, but button mushrooms work just as well)

A handful of fresh herbs: parsley (finely chopped, stalk and all) and thyme (pull off leaves)

Pre-cooked turkey and ham – at least 250g of each, cut into chunks

2 tbsp plain flour 2 tbsp butter

Sea salt 1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry


  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  • Into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add 350ml of milk along with the sliced onion, whole peppercorns, bay leaf and grating of nutmeg. Place on a low heat and allow to gently come to just below simmering point. Strain and retain the infused milk, set aside.
  • Heat a heavy bottom saute pan over a medium low heat, melt the knob of butter, add the leek and mushrooms and gently fry until softened. Add the chopped herbs.
  • Heat a separate saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter then add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together to make a paste.
  • Add a little of the infused milk and stir using a whisk to combine. Continue to add milk 100ml at a time, stirring to combine. Eventually sauce will begin to thicken to a consistency that coats the back of a spoon.
  • Add the turkey and ham to the sauce, followed by the leek, mushrooms and herbs. Stir to coat. If the sauce becomes a little too thick, add in some more milk to loosen.
  • Transfer into a pie dish and top with the sheet of puff pastry. Trim so the pastry is a little bigger than the dish and either tuck or crimp the pastry over the filling. Cut a small hole in the top for steam to escape, then brush over with a little milk.
  • Bake in the over for 20 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and bec

ome crisp and golden.

Plate of Bubble and Squeak cakes. Picture: Stock
Plate of Bubble and Squeak cakes. Picture: Stock

Bubble and Squeak Cakes with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

Turn the sorry sight of leftover veggies into these glorious cakes and then make them extra awesome with my simple savoury blue cheese sauce!


450g Left-over veggies: carrot, parsnip, Brussel sprouts, leek, potato

1 egg

50g breadcrumbs

Parsley, finely chopped

125ml of sour creme

50g of crumbly blue cheese, such as Cashel

Ground black pepper


  • Into a processor, place the leftover veggies. Blitz on pulse until broken down, but not blended, so the cakes still have texture.
  • Take out of the processor and place into a bowl and add in the egg, breadcrumbs and parsley. Use your hand to combine.
  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly, and pat gently with flour to stop the mixture from sticking. Then, take a handful of cake mix and form into palm-sized disks, 2cm in thickness or thereabouts. Set aside and form as many cakes as you can from the remaining mixture.
  • Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  • To make the blue cheese sauce: crumble the cheese into the sour creme and whisk until completely combined. Add in a generous grind of black pepper and stir. Set aside.
  • Place a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add in the cakes but don’t overcrowd the pan – two or three at a time should do. Add a knob of butter and a little sunflower oil. Cook for three minutes, flip the cakes over and cook on the other side for another three minutes to brown and heat all the way through.
  • When cooked, place on a sheet of kitchen paper to take away any excess oil.

Roasted parsnips.
Roasted parsnips.

Roasted Parsnips, Thyme and Hazelnuts

I always, without fail, cook too many parsnips, but I always find a use for them in the end.

This is a really nice side dish that would be delicious with either of the dishes above.


50g salted butter

Leftover roasted parsnips, equivalent to approximately 2 large or 4-6 small, cut into batons

1 tbsp runny honey

Small bunch of thyme

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

40g hazelnuts, roughly chopped


  • Heat a saute or frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Add the butter. Once melted, add half the thyme and garlic. Allow the butter to bubble a little but careful not to burn.
  • Add the roasted parsnips to the pan and toss to coat well with the butter, then stir in the honey. Allow the whole thing to lightly caramelise so the parsnips start to look glossy, sticky and a little burnished from the honey.
  • Add half the quantity of hazelnuts and the rest of the thyme (strip leaves from the stems). Stir, season with black pepper and a scant pinch of sea salt and toss everything through to combine.
  • Take off the heat, spoon into a serving bowl and scatter the last of the hazelnuts over.
  • When you’re dealing with leftovers the majority of the cooking has already been done, so anything you make afterwards takes minimal effort.

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