Tips from chefs on how best to use up Christmas leftovers

Five chefs share how they use Christmas leftovers


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Reserve some glaze to drizzle over a Christmas-ham omelette, suggests Phil Wood. Photo: William Meppem

Reserve some glaze to drizzle over a Christmas-ham omelette, suggests Phil Wood. Photo: William Meppem

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Here are some simple, not-so-cheffy inspiration from five chefs.

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Leftover food from Christmas Day is a thing of beauty … until you're eating your 10th plain ham sandwich. 

But when you're weary (or, let's be honest, hungover) from the big celebrations, it's hard to come up with ideas for using the remaining food.

Here's some simple, not-so-cheffy inspiration from five chefs.

Benjamin Cooper, Chin Chin, Melbourne and Sydney

"For Christmas lunch in our house, we do a spread of cold-cut meats and seafood so naturally sandwiches, salads and toasties go down a treat in the days following the feast.  

"Prawn and zucchini pasta is an easy one to whip up, and a favourite of mine is a ham, cheese and mustard toastie."

Massimo Mele, Catering By Massimo

"We have a very multicultural Christmas. I have the big Italian family, my partner's side is an Aussie family, and we have so much food. We always make a lasagne – trays of it – and more recently I've done some prawns to merge the two cultures together. 

"We have to get creative with leftovers because of the kids. I'd be happy just reheating food from the day before but the kids get a bit picky.

"Leftovers are great for breakfast omelettes: put in some meat, leftover roast vegetables or greens. I make little crumbed fritters from the leftover vegies, too. I always have pizza bases in the freezer, and we roll them out, throw some leftovers on them and cook them up. And I keep the bones (from the ham or a roast meat) to make stock."

Michael Ryan, Provenance, Beechworth

"We don't have the traditional Christmas meal. We have simple seafood and salads, nothing too heavy. I like to keep the use of leftovers simple, too. The last thing I want to do is cook too much or eat a heavy meal after a day or two of solid eating and drinking. 

"I love ham sandwiches after Christmas Day; to me, they're the pinnacle of Christmas leftovers. To use the meats in a more interesting way, you can put some leftover cooked meats in a banh mi. But I think the best way to deal with leftovers is to rethink how much food you have on the table in the first place. Christmas is known for being a decadent feast, but it's a better idea to just cater to what you need. That way nothing is wasted."

Tim Bourke, The Eatery at Maggie Beer's farm, Barossa Valley

Stuff cold roast meats into a bahn mi-style roll with pate, chilli and coriander. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Stuff cold roast meats into a bahn mi-style roll with pate, chilli and coriander. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

"I go back to Sydney for a week to spend Christmas with my family – and to cook the meals for them. We always have barbecued seafood, so we take a trip to the Sydney Fish Markets on Christmas Eve to get whatever's fresh; it might be prawns or Moreton Bay bugs. Dad does the Christmas ham with his famous Guinness glaze, and Mum does the spuds.

"If there's some leftover seafood, Mum cooks up some baked spuds in beef fat, which we eat with prawns and homemade cocktail sauce. That's my ideal Boxing Day food. For dessert, it's stonefruit and berries, either served with a lime granita or meringue. The leftover fruit is often used on top of a bircher muesli for breakfast the next morning."

Crush leftover pavlova into an Eton mess. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Crush leftover pavlova into an Eton mess. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Phil Wood, Point Leo Estate, Mornington Peninsula

"I always have a ham, a few dozen oysters, roast chicken and pavlova on my Christmas table. Last year we had a crab curry, too.

"Any leftover roast vegetables are great in a vegie scramble or a frittata. Leftover bread is great in a bread and butter pudding.

"Christmas ham is great in an omelette. Chop it up and then use some of the glaze to glaze the omelette; that's pretty spectacular.

"Leftover roast meat can be turned into a salad, and that's often all you feel like after eating too much ham and drinking too much champagne on Christmas Day. Throw some chopped up roast turkey or chicken it in with some leafy greens and a light herb vinaigrette.

"If you have any pav left, you can make an Eton mess the next day. Just serve it with some fresh fruit, add more whipped cream and spoon some ice-cream into the middle.

"I often have leftover fruit, mangoes, cherries and berries, so we eat fruit with yoghurt and honey for lunches in the days after Christmas. That fruit is my favourite part of the festive food."

Good Food

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