Lovely Christmas leftovers... there’s no need for waste

Make the most of your Christmas dinner leftovers with some gorgeous recipes by KATE RYAN
Lovely Christmas leftovers... there’s no need for waste

Fried Christmas Pudding and Bacon Pictures: Kate Ryan

WHAT’S better than Christmas dinner? Leftovers, of course! It’s the only time when I am happy to buy more than I need and cook more than could ever be eaten, but only because I’ve already thought about what I want to do with all those lovely leftovers.

Of course, nothing beats the majesty of Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, but for me, the creativity of festive food comes from using up all the bits of leftover veg, meaty bits, snacky bits, and even sweet bits too.

There are always favourites I love to come back to: a Turkey and Ham Pie, Bubble and Squeak, or chunks of Christmas cake dunked in dark chocolate; but every year I like to bring something new into the Lovely Leftovers repertoire. This year, I’m going to focus mostly on the bits that go around the dinner: the veg for sure, but we are all guilty of buying too much cheese and sweet cakes too. I’ve been busy in the test kitchen, and I’ve come up with some ideas I think you’ll love!

Cranberry Sauce is great in a sambo.
Cranberry Sauce is great in a sambo.

The Ultimate Sambo

We’re going to start by giving the humble turkey sambo a facelift. The most important thing is to get the right bread to hold the whole thing together!

Ingredients (makes as much as you need)

Crusty bread rolls


Turkey and ham, sliced thinly

Cheddar, sliced thinly

Little gem lettuce

Stuffing balls

Cranberry sauce




Roast Potato Salad

Whenever I cook a roast dinner, I always roast more potatoes than we need just so I can make this salad to go with a sandwich the next day.


Cold leftover roast potatoes

Scallions (depending how many potatoes, between 2-6)

1 stick of celery, trimmed, halved, finely chopped

Salad Cream

Paprika, Salt, Pepper


  • Chop the potatoes into roughly 1 cm cubes. Place into a bowl.
  • Trim and finely slice the scallions and celery. Add to the potatoes.
  • Begin adding the salad cream a tablespoon at a time, mixing until you get a good consistency.
  • Everything should be well covered, but not swimming in salad cream.
  • Add in 2 tsp of smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix everything until well combined.

Use up any leftover cheese to make a fondue. Picture: Stock
Use up any leftover cheese to make a fondue. Picture: Stock

Cheese Fondue

This is a great way to use up leftover bits of cheese, but select your cheeses well to make this really sing. Ideally you need at least three cheeses: one that is a good melty cheese, like Applewood, Raclette, or a Brie-type cheese such as Durrus or Gubbeen.

Then you need something that will give great all round cheesy flavour and body. A strong cheddar, like Hegarty’s or Bó Rua is just the ticket. Finally, a cheese that packs a nice punchy high note of flavour.

I like adding blue cheese, or a strong smoked cheese like Smoked Gubbeen, or even an aged goat cheese for extra tanginess.

A good fondue needs to be kept warm to remain liquid enough to dip things into. If you don’t have a fondue set, you can improvise with a camping stove, or even set a pan on a barbeque grill over low coals.

I like to add a splash of good quality, dry, flat cider to the cheese, a little grating of garlic, a bay leaf, and some fresh thyme. As for things to dip, use whatever you have at hand - bread, pickles, last few bits of charcuterie, carrot sticks, cheese crackers, etc.

Pasties are also a great way to use up leftovers. Picture: Stock
Pasties are also a great way to use up leftovers. Picture: Stock

Everything-In Pasty & Pickles

I do love a pasty, but perhaps save this one for when there are just the last bits of stuff left over. It will take everything – even leftover gravy. For these, I used ready-made puff pastry, it’s a great little cheat ingredient and there are some good real butter Irish-made versions out there too.

Ingredients (2-3 pasties per sheet of pastry)

1 or 2 sheets of ready to use puff pastry

Leftover roast meats (turkey/goose/chicken, ham, pigs in blankets)

Leftover veggies (parsnips, carrots, potatoes, brussels sprouts, red cabbage)

Leftover gravy

2 tsp mustard (any kind, but I think English Mustard works best)

1 egg


  • Cut two circles into the puff pastry, at least 10cm in diameter. Place onto a lined baking tray, prick with a fork, and set aside. Pre heat the oven to the packet instructions for the pastry.
  • Use a knife to cut up the veggies and meats into pieces roughly the same size, 1cm cubes. Place into a bowl.
  • In a small bowl, add mustard and a tablespoon of the gravy, stir to combine. If you think you need more gravy to gently coat the veg and meat mix, add a little more.
  • Combine the meat and veg mix with the gravy mix, stir until everything is lightly coated with gravy.
  • Spoon the mixture onto one half of the pastry rounds, staying about a centimetre away from the edge.
  • Whisk the egg in a cup and egg wash all around the outer edge of the pastry. Fold the pastry over and press down to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Repeat with all the other pasties, give each an egg wash all over, then place in the oven to bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.
  • Serve hot out the oven with some pickles on the side.

Fried Christmas Pudding and Bacon

A friend mentioned this dish to me, and I was instantly intrigued! Of course, bacon can be sweet, and Christmas pudding has lots of savoury elements in it: the spices, the suet and butter. I gave it a go, and I am a convert! Works best with a traditional Christmas pudding.


Leftover Christmas Pudding, crumbled into small pieces or sliced

3 slices of sweet cure, smoked streaky bacon rashers



  • Place the rashers on a lined baking sheet, place them in a cold oven, turn the oven on to 190 degrees Celsius and roast the bacon until crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  • When cooked, take the bacon out of the oven and place on kitchen towel to soak up any excess fat and keep the bacon crispy.
  • Place a frying pan over a medium heat, add a knob of butter and melt. Add in the crumbled Christmas pudding and fry until it begins to turn crispy on the outside. Turn out onto kitchen towel when done.
  • Plate the pudding and bacon and serve with warm apple sauce and crusty bread.

French Toast with Cranberry and Mandarin Sauce Pictures: Kate Ryan
French Toast with Cranberry and Mandarin Sauce Pictures: Kate Ryan

Panettone French Toast with Cranberries and Mandarin

Every year, I buy a Panettone, and am always looking for ways to use it up. This is a simple dish that’s loaded with festive flavours and equally good as dessert or a decadent brunch.

I use tinned mandarins which always reminds me of my childhood!

Ingredients (serves 2)

Handful of cranberries / 2 tbsp of cranberry sauce (not spiced)

Tin of mandarin segments and juice

Double cream for whipping

Slices of panettone (2 per serving)

1 tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs



  • Put cranberries in a saucepan with a small amount of juice from the mandarins. Place over a low heat and cook until the cranberries start to pop and soften (about 3-5 minutes). Take off the heat, set aside, add some mandarin segments. Reserve the rest of the juice for later.
  • Pour cream in a bowl and whip to a soft peak. Add a teaspoon of mandarin juice and whip again to a soft peak. Set aside.
  • Take two bowls large enough to fit a slice of panettone. In one bowl, combine the cinnamon and icing; egg and vanilla bean paste in the other.
  • Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a large knob of butter.
  • Take a slice of panettone, coat each side in the sugar and cinnamon mix first, then dunk in the egg and vanilla mix. Place in the hot frying pan and cook until golden on both sides. Repeat with each slice of panettone.
  • Place the panettone on a plate, scatter about with the cranberry and mandarin fruit mix, and top with whipped cream.

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