Monday 27 January 2020

Donal Skehan: 'Even better the second time around?'

Choose bold and punchy flavours to make leftovers sing

Ham & Cheese Waffles Brunch
Ham & Cheese Waffles Brunch
Vietnamese style turkey curry
Saffron Turkey stew with orzo, greens & chickpeas

For the last 10 years writing recipes for Christmas, I have always dreaded coming up with new ways to make turkey and ham leftovers into something I actually want to eat once all the pomp and ceremony of the big day has faded into obscurity. I’ve come to realise that if it’s not a mega turkey-and-ham sambo scarfed down Nigella-style in a dressing gown with only the light of the fridge to expose your gluttony, the dreaded leftovers need bold flavour to make them shine.

Before that, however, and if you aren’t sick of cooking after the Christmas Day spread,  a great option for St Stephen’s Day brunch is these Ham & Cheese Waffles. A simple savoury waffle batter brought to life with cheddar cheese (or, better yet, a good excuse to use up the remnants of your cheese board), mixed with fragrant thyme leaves and generous helpings of leftover baked ham. Top them with a poached egg, some hollandaise, wilted spinach and you’ve got a leftover brunch dish fit for a king.

Turkey curry might be a bog standard leftovers suggestion, but stick with me — the one I share with you takes its lead from the spice and flavour of Vietnam. In this sweet, spicy and salty ‘curry’, the last of your turkey won’t know what hit it, as it gets smacked with lemongrass, fish sauce, chilli and plenty of fresh herbs. Serve it table side with a pot of freshly cooked rice and you’ll feed a crowd in a pinch.

If your taste buds aren’t crying out for spice, there’s a comforting orzo ‘stoup’ that uses shredded turkey to bulk out a dish that is somewhere between soup and stew. It’s ideal to use up any leftover greens that may be knocking around the bottom of the fridge. The result is a saffron-scented bowl of goodness ideal for sharing and a wholesome break from the bottom of the tin of Roses.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

And if all that doesn’t take your fancy, remember — batch bread heavily buttered, relish, stuffing and as much leftover ham and turkey as you can fit between the two slices and you’ll be golden.


Leftover Ham & Cheese Waffles Brunch

Cook time 30 mins

Serves 2

For a totally indulgent leftover feast make up a batch of these waffles with all the trimmings. If you don't fancy digging out a waffle maker or don't have one, the batter works just as well in the form of pancakes.


For the waffles:

125g butter, melted

250g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 free-range eggs

400ml whole milk

200g leftover baked ham, shredded

100g Cheddar, grated

2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the hollandaise:

2 large egg yolks

Juice of ½ lemon

150g butter, cold and cut into cubes

For the wilted spinach:

75g unsalted butter

4 handfuls fresh spinach

For the poached eggs:

4 free-range eggs

1 tsp white wine vinegar


1. Preheat a waffle maker to the medium setting. Whisk together the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk until smooth. Stir through the remaining ingredients, mix to combine, holding back 50g shredded ham to serve.

2. Pour a little of the mixture into the waffle maker and cook for 6-8 minutes. If the waffle machine makes less than four at a time, repeat with the remaining batter and keep the cooked waffles warm.

3. To make the hollandaise sauce, place the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk the yolks and lemon juice, and slowly add the butter, bit by bit after each one melts, whisking continuously until it is completely combined and the sauce has thickened.

4. To cook the spinach, heat the butter in a saucepan, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season to taste.

5. To make the poached eggs, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the salt and vinegar and stir to dissolve the salt. Crack an egg into a cup and slowly lower the edge of the cup into the pot and drop in the egg. Cook the egg at a very gentle simmer for 3-4 minutes for the yolk to still be runny. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

6. To serve, place a waffle on each plate with some wilted spinach on top. Top each with a poached egg, the remaining shredded ham and pour over hollandaise sauce. Don't forget lots of freshly ground black pepper to finish.


Vietnamese Style Turkey Curry

Vietnamese style turkey curry

Cook time 35 mins

Serves 4

A simple combination of lemongrass, chilli, garlic, fish sauce and curry powder is a powerhouse of flavour that will make your Christmas leftover curry a little more interesting. Don't skimp on the herbage, it's a welcome bright and fresh flavour to this rich stew.


For the rice:

275g Thai jasmine long grain rice

For the curry:

4 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped

2 red chillis, deseeded and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tbsp curry powder

400g cooked turkey meat, preferably dark meat, cut into bite-sized chunks

100g sugar snap peas

300ml chicken stock

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)

Small handful of mint, basil and coriander leaves, to garnish


1. For the rice, place the grains in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid. Add cold water and using your fingers swirl the rice to wash it. Drain the water and repeat two more times until the water becomes clearer. Drain completely and then top up with 600ml of water.

2. Bring to a steady boil and stir through to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. Lower the heat and bring to steady simmer. Continue to cook and stir until the water looks like it has been absorbed.

3. Place on a lid and cook on the lowest heat for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 8 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and recover until you are ready to serve.

4. For the curry, in a bowl combine the lemongrass, chilli, garlic.

5. Heat the oil in a wok or a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the lemongrass mixture and stir fry for about 1 minute until fragrant. Then add the curry powder and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the turkey and sugar snap peas and stir-fry for 4 minutes until the pieces are completely coated.

6. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and stir in the sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for a few minutes until the stock has reduced and you are left with a thick sauce. Stir through half the herbs until just wilted.

7. Serve with rice and garnish with the herbs.


Saffron Turkey Stew with Orzo, Greens & Chickpeas

Saffron Turkey stew with orzo, greens & chickpeas

Cook time 30 mins

Serves 4

A useful blueprint of a recipe that is open to your interpretation. Use whatever greens are in season for this. Curly kale or spinach could work well here. The same goes for the chickpeas, and tinned pulses you can find in the kitchen press will work, cannellini or butter beans would be tasty here too.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

Pinch saffron

1 litre chicken stock

200g orzo

500g leftover turkey meat, shredded

200g cavolo nero

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Small handful parsley, roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Place a large saucepan over a medium high heat. Add a little oil and fry the onion and carrot until softened for about 8-10 minutes. Stir through the garlic and fry for a further minute or so before adding the saffron and chicken stock.

2. Bring to a rapid boil before adding the orzo and reducing heat to medium-low. Stir regularly and partially cover to cook for 10 minutes or until the orzo is al dente.

3. Stir through the turkey, cavolo nero and chickpeas to heat through and until the greens have wilted. Season to taste and serve in warm bowls with a little parsley on top.

Weekend Magazine

Editors Choice

Also in Life