Picture the scene: you've already eaten leftover turkey sandwiches for nearly every meal for the last two days, but there is still half a bird in your fridge. Loath as you are to throw it away, the thought of Christmas dinner sandwich round four is not the most appetising – nor is cheese and biscuits with a Toblerone chaser...
Add to this that you are quite frankly shattered and you plan to be watching your favourite Christmas film in just under an hour. The only solution is something quick... as long as it is turkey based.
So, we have pulled together a few alternative ways to use up your leftover turkey (or goose, duck or ham) that are quick, or easy, or a combination of the two. And, what's more they don't just work a treat with turkey, so you will be recreating them year-round, whatever roasted remnants need using up.
Find more recipes on our dedicated hub page.
1. Turkey samosas
Yes, we have managed to do a turkey leftovers list without the ubiquitous turkey curry, but we aren't ashamed to include this popular Indian side dish. Be it a snack or an addition to a New Year's Eve buffet, these bad boys will quickly see off those last bits of turkey meat.
If you have some filo pastry to hand, you can make them with that – but this easy turkey samosa recipe from Panasonic features the easiest homemade pastry. The best thing is it can be made in a combination microwave oven, making it perfect for those days when you have filled every shelf of your oven and need some quick-win party food options.
2. Turkey enchiladas
Tex-mex recipes are an easy way to use up leftovers – as long as you have some tortillas knocking about (or flour to make your own if you have time), you can make nachos, quesadillas, or wraps with the addition of just a few basic store-cupboard ingredients. The spicy flavours will be a welcome change after eating turkey and stuffing sandwiches for a few days.
Turkey enchiladas can be prepared and put in the fridge to be cooked through when you need them, so they really are the perfect dish for the busy Christmas holidays. Add peppers, onions, sweetcorn or beans to bulk them out. Most recipes use cheddar or a similar style of cheese for the top, so it is also a way to use up scraps from your festive buffets.
To make, just mix the turkey (and veg) into a basic tomato, onion and garlic sauce (homemade if you can but we won't just you for using shop-bought). Season to taste with chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Divide the mix between your tortillas, roll them and place in an oiled, ovenproof dish. Cover with more tomato sauce and grated cheese then bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
3. Pulled turkey burgers
Add some oomph to a homemade burger with a pile of gravy-soaked, shredded turkey on top. We have been inspired by this beasty from New York Best – looks like it is definitely worth a trip to the Big Apple for, but if that isn't on the cards it is super simple to make at home.
Using a fork in each hand, gently pull your turkey then mix with leftover gravy (and a dollop of BBQ sauce if you wish). Top your favourite burger with a slice of brie then heap with more festive favourites like crispy, smoked bacon and cranberry sauce. Bit of stuffing too? Why not.
4. Turkey and avocado salad with a cranberry vinaigrette
Fancy something light and fresh with your leftover turkey? Then give this flavoursome salad from A Sweet Pea Chef a go. With candied pecans, cranberry dressing and goat's cheese, it includes plenty of festive flavours to keep the Christmas spirit alive, but without the fullness and indigestion of a massive turkey dinner.
The good thing about salad is that as long as you stick to a good balance of flavours and textures, you can make substitutions with whatever is in the fridge. We like to make sure we have something creamy, sweet/piquant, salty and crunchy on top of our chosen leaves. You could crumble some stilton on instead if you have no goat's cheese – it works perfectly cut the sweetness of pomegranate and cranberry. Nuts are another thing we seem to have in abundance at Christmas too, so if you don't have pecans, trade in some walnuts or even hazelnuts instead.
5. Turkey and cranberry rolls
Another crowd pleaser for your party, this recipe takes around 30 minutes if you have some ready-roll puff pastry in the fridge. Mix your diced turkey with a bit of gravy and mix in dried herbs like parsley or thyme. If you have a bit of stuffing leftover, you can add this instead.
Cut your pastry in half lengthways then spread some cranberry sauce down the middle of each length. Spoon the turkey mix on top and brush the edges of the pastry with an eggwash, before rolling around the turkey mix to create a long sausage. Repeat this for the other length then chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
Preheat an oven to gas mark 7 or 200ºC fan, and cut the pastry rolls into six to eight mini rolls. Spread on a baking tray, brush with eggwash and cook for 15 minutes, or until golden.
6. Turkey ramen
Ramen is a wholesome Japanese dish of noodles, veggies and some form of protein in a broth. Thanks to the flavour profiles it is another meal that will be a nice surprise for a palate tired of the taste of Christmas dinner and it feels a little bit healthier than the mounds of cheese you might have been grazing on. It is also a great way to use up odds and ends from the fridge and while it works best with classic oriental vegetables like spring onions and pak choi, you can easily trade these out for a spare sprout or two.
To make, cook udon noodles (although any noodles will work well) in a well-seasoned broth – the broth could be the stock made from your boiled up turkey carcass. Then top with shredded turkey, thinly sliced spring onions and lightly cooked vegetables. It is nourishing and filling, but should you be particularly hungy, add a soft boiled egg at the end, too.
7. Turkey and goat's cheese tartine
Yes, we know that we've advocated against the ubiquitous turkey sandwich. However, the tartine (Belgian in origin) elevates the humble sarnie to a higher gastronomical level. The key to success is a mixture of fresh ingredients and high-quality bread. We recommend using sourdough or a fresh wholemeal loaf. Lightly toast or grill the slices, then layer sliced turkey, salad leaves, crumbly goat's cheese, and cranberry sauce on top. Yum – and achievable in five minutes.