Having fun with turkey leftovers

I have a confession. I cook turkey for Christmas so I can have tons of turkey leftovers. You see, I think there’s just something so enjoyable about coming up with new dishes from something old. 🙂

As most of my friends have either left London or were not here over Christmas, it was just R and I trying to eat a 5kg turkey. (I did try to look for a smaller turkey, but that was the smallest one they had in store!) But I wasn’t complaining, as it meant I would have lots and lots of leftovers to play around with!

One of the dishes I made was a turkey leftovers pizza. This was inspired by a pizza feature in one of the issues of Donna Hay magazine… as you can see, I am easily swayed by good looking food. Although I’d never tried anything like this before, I decided to just go for it as I figured it would be hard to go wrong when it came to pizzas.

I made the pizza bases with wholemeal flour as I had run out of plain bread flour, and I must say I could hardly tell that it was wholemeal. In fact, I might start using a mix of plain/wholemeal flour for pizzas in the future. For the fillings, I used all the leftovers from the dinner (except the gravy) – turkey, brussel sprouts, stuffing, potatoes and even the cranberry sauce!

And despite the fact that this was a very ‘thrown together’ (or as we Malaysian’s would say – “rojak” style) dish, both of us really enjoyed it! Though to be fair, it’s hard to not like pizzas. 😛 I do wish that I had rolled out the dough to make thinner pizzas though. I should also seriously consider getting a pizza stone…

I also made some Asian inspired turkey ‘salad’ , which I also made last year. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, which I originally thought was no longer available online. (I have since found the recipe here). As I didn’t have a recipe at the time, I decided to just work from memory. What I like most about this is that the turkey becomes really nice and crispy – slightly reminiscent of crispy duck. When eaten with the crunchy cashews and sweet cranberries… yum. We had the salad with a hoisin based sauce, smeared on a homemade tortilla.

The last thing I made with the turkey leftovers was a turkey and leek fusilli. This was a very simple dish, tossed together in a matter of minutes. Rather terribly, I had leftovers from this dish itself, so baked it with a mozzarella topping the following day – and I have to say it tasted better baked. Or maybe it was all that cheese….

I really enjoyed our turkey leftovers this year, and am already counting down to the next time I get to do this all over again. So if you ever are faced with tons of leftovers, just remember that there is always a good way to use them! 🙂

Turkey leftovers pizza

For the pizza dough:
Recipe from Donna Hay magazine, issue 47

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I used wholemeal bread flour)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Place the sugar and water in a bowl, and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the sugared water, and leave for 10 minutes until bubbles appear on its surface.
2. Place the flour, sea salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, and mix using the dough hook on slow speed until a dough is formed (this normally takes me 7-10 minutes). The dough should be soft and elastic.
3. Divide the dough into (roughly) equal sized balls – you can make either large or small pizzas, depending on what you prefer. Cover with a teacloth or clingfilm, and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
4. Press each dough ball into a round, and roll out to the desired size. The pizza dough is now ready to use.

For the toppings:
I don’t have a proper recipe for this, but I used the following ingredients, and just randomly threw them onto the pizza bases. 😉 Quantities don’t really matter as it really depends on how much of each you have available.

  • torn pieces of leftover turkey
  • sliced leftover brussel sprouts
  • sliced leftover potatoes
  • 2cm cubes of leftover stuffing
  • mozzarella, torn
  • cranberry sauce

Turkey and leek fusilli

  • 500g fusilli
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and chopped into ~2cm pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can chicken/mushroom soup (I used Campbell’s chicken soup)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the fusilli in a pot of salted boiling water, for about 7-10 minutes, or until it is cooked al dente. Drain the fusilli and set aside.
2. Heat some olive oil in a pan over high heat. Fry the garlic for 1 minute or so until it becomes fragrant.
3. Add the chopped leeks, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the shredded turkey, followed by the can of soup. Turn down the heat, and leave to simmer for 1 minute.
5. Toss the fusilli with the sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you wish, grate some parmesan to serve.

*Alternatively, cook the pasta as above, top with torn mozzarella and put in the oven until the cheese melts to become a yummy gooey mess.

Asian inspired turkey ‘salad’
Inspired by this recipe from Jamie Oliver

For the turkey ‘salad’:

  • 2 cups brown turkey meat
  • 1 cup  cashew nuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons ground five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of brown sugar

1. Put a pan on medium high heat, and shred the turkey meat into the pan using your fingers.
2. Add the cashews, dried cranberries and five spice powder. Stir till all the ingredients are well mixed, and let it toast whilst you make the sauce.
3. To make the sauce, just mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they’re well combined.
4. Smear some sauce on a tortilla, top with the turkey ‘salad’, wrap – and serve!

Note: I also served my tortillas with (leftover) potatoes and stuffing.


If you’re interested in making your own tortillas:
Homemade tortillas
Adapted from this recipe from Cooking Mexican Recipes

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons corn oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and oil to the flour mixture, and mix with the dough hook attachment until a dough is formed. (This took about 7 minutes for me.) If your dough is too sticky, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the right consistency.
2. Divide the dough into equal sizes (mine were probably 30-40g each), and leave to rise for a few minutes.
3. In the meantime, heat a pan (nonstick or cast iron) over high heat.
4. Flatten the dough rounds (on a lightly floured surface), and roll them out into rounds roughly 4-5 inches in diameter.
5. Place the rolled out tortilla in the heated pan and cook for 30 seconds until brown spots appear on its surface. Flip over, and cook for another 30 seconds on the other side. Be careful to not overcook the tortilla as it becomes very hard and crunchy if you do so – I made this mistake with my first tortilla, but I can’t say I was complaining as I thought it tasted like a healthier version of Doritos! 😛

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Of turkey, cranberries, and the end of 2009.

I still remember the first time I had a proper Christmas dinner with roast turkey – it was in my third year of university, where my flatmates and I decided to take the plunge and cook a turkey for the first time ever. And it turned out pretty well! I have fond memories of that dinner, mostly because I spent a fair bit of time decorating the table, and was really pleased when it turned out nicely!

My first ever Christmas dinner!

Since then, I’ve tried to cook a Christmas dinner every year. It’s lots of fun, and it creates a lot of leftovers – which I love.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the food channel, and I watch as many Christmas specials as I possibly can. 😛 My favourites are Nigella (because she’s Nigella), and Jamie Oliver. Rather dissapointingly, Nigella didn’t have a Christmas special this year, but thank goodness for reruns!

I normally cook the turkey in the traditional way – butter on the turkey skin, with some herbs stuffed in the cavity. However, Jamie had this interesting method of cooking his turkey, what he called the “self basting turkey” method. This simply meant he stuffed butter under the turkey skin, which helps to crisp the skin as well as keep the breast meat nice and juicy. What was even better was the fact that he used flavoured butter – which I thought looked amazing.

The bad thing about stuffing butter underneath the turkey skin is that the areas with the flavoured butter looked darker (and “dirtier”), due to the herbs in the butter. It still tasted delicious though, and the skin was amazingly crispy – the crispiest skin I’ve had on a turkey to date.

And of course, what turkey is complete without some stuffing? I like cooking the stuffing separate from the turkey, and usually cook them in individual “meatball” sized pieces. This year, I decided to do something different, and cooked it in a loaf pan – which made it look a bit like meatloaf! There are cranberries and walnuts in addition to the sausagemeat, which I enjoyed as they provided a nice contrast of textures.

The turkey “meatloaf” stuffing

There were also dishes served on the side…

Roasted potatoes with a twist – inspired by this recipe by Martha Stewart. There was just the right amount of lemony-ness in the potatoes, which I absolutely loved. I also liked that I got to use olive oil instead of something more sinful like goose fat. All I can say is, if you’re a fan of lemons, you’ll love the taste of these potatoes!

Brussel sprouts, with pancetta and chestnuts. This dish was inspired by the one and only Nigella – she cooked this on her show, and I thought it sounded really interesting. It turned out well, and I really enjoyed the various textures in the dish: the crunchy brussel sprouts, salty pancetta and sweet chestnuts. Can’t say I’m a fan of brussel sprouts though – I’ll eat it but I wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, let’s just say.

Cranberry sauce, a necessity for a Christmas meal (to me anyway!). This was cooked with orange peel and and a touch of cinnamon, which gave it a very nice “festive” feel. I didn’t like how bitter the cranberry seeds were, so decided to run the sauce to a sieve – and the sauce became much sweeter. 🙂

In all, I must say that I really enjoyed my Christmas dinner – and I still have some leftovers in the fridge, which is brilliant. I’m one of those people who enjoys turkey leftovers more than the actual meal itself, as it gives me the chance to create new dishes!

On another note, I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. Time has really flown by, and I can hardly believe how much has happened in the last year. I won’t go into it all as it would be a really long post, but all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed 2009 immensely.

So, here’s wishing all of you a very Happy New Year. May 2010 bring joy, good health and good food to you all! xxx

Roast turkey
Inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe

  • 5 kg turkey
  • 2 clementines
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • 200g butter
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 sprigs lemon thyme (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 bay leaves (chopped finely)
  • rind of one clementine

1. Make the flavoured butter: Mix softened butter with the grated clementine rind, chopped rosemary, chopped lemon thyme and chopped bay leaves. You may add dried cranberries to the butter, but I left this out as my stuffing already contained this.
2. Preheat your oven to as hot as it can go (for me, this was 220ºC).
3. Get your turkey, and use a spoon to work your way between the skin and the breast meat. Take care when doing this as you do not want to break the skin. Stuff the butter into the cavity you have just created. Rub any remaining butter all over the turkey.
4. Halve 2 clementines and pop them into the cavity with a few sprigs of rosemary. Jamie says that this is so the fruit will steam and flavour the turkey.
5. Put your turkey into the preheated oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 180ºC.
6. As a rough guide, each kg of turkey will need 35-40 minutes to cook. That said, each turkey and each oven is different, so just check on your turkey every 30 minutes and keep it from drying out by basting it with the juices from the bottom of the pan.
7. When the skin gets golden and crispy, the turkey should be done. To check on this, gently pull the drumstick outwards – if the juices run clear, the turkey is done. Alternatively, it is done when a meat thermometer (inserted in the thickest part of the breast) reads 65ºC.
8. Move the turkey to a platter then cover it with a double layer of foil to keep it warm while it rests for at least 30 minutes.

Cranberry and walnut sausagemeat “meatloaf” stuffing
Inspired by this recipe

  • 400g dried cranberries
  • 150g walnuts, chopped
  • 1kg sausagemeat
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch sage, finely chopped
  • 3 slices of proscuitto

1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
2. Mix all the ingredients (except the proscuitto) together, using either a spatula or your hands. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed up evenly.
3. Put the sausagemeat mixture into a loaf pan. Top with proscuitto slices.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until cooked through.

Cranberry sauce

  • 500g fresh cranberries
  • 400g sugar
  • rind of 2 clementines (I simply peeled the rind off, there is no need to grate it)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • splash of red wine (ideally I would use port, but I only had red wine to hand)

1. Heat all the ingredients (except the red wine) in a pan over medium high heat. Once it reaches a boil, add the wine.
2. Turn down the heat, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
3. If you like, you can sieve the mixture to get a silky smooth cranberry sauce.

Brussel sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts
See this recipe by Nigella – I followed it pretty closely (by my standards anyway!). Only changes I made were using red wine in place of marsala, and omitting the parsley.

Roast lemon potatoes
See this recipe from Martha – Only change I made was to use fresh herbs (which I used for the turkey) instead of dried.

* I’ve only posted the links for the last two recipes as there would be too many words in this post otherwise! 😉