Last year, 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the United Kingdom, according to Unilever. The figure is the equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes.
As a result, butchers are concerned that there will be a high volume of waste when it comes to leftover turkeys, or the demand for larger birds simply won’t be there. Despite this, there is absolutely no reason why you should give up on having your big traditional Christmas roast to celebrate the festive season. In this case, bigger certainly means better!
While you may be left with lots of leftovers without the normal waifs and strays or big family dos, this doesn’t mean the turkey meat has to go to waste. There are plenty of ways to make use of the meat during the holidays. These include:
1. Cutting the turkey into other cuts
2. Freezing it
3. Creating a boxing day buffet
4. Making meals for the homeless and vulnerable
5. Treating your household pets
6. Making your own stock
7. Making turkey skin scratchings
8. Creating jars of soup
9. Creating filling for your dumplings
10. Sharing it with friends and family
Let this variety of creative ideas on how to make use of a turkey leftovers convince you that, in fact, having some leftover turkey might even make your life easier this Christmas.
1. Cut the turkey into other cuts
While delicious, it’s not necessary to roast the whole turkey at once. By cutting the turkey into other cuts you can enjoy the turkey meat for longer and experiment with different recipes. For example, you could carve your turkey before cooking, using the crown on Christmas Day and turning the legs into boneless cushion roasts, stuffed or unstuffed, for a gourmet holiday meal.
2. Freeze it
Who says turkey is only good at Christmas? By dividing your turkey, you can save some for later. Pop it in the freezer and pull it out again for a turkey roast on a Sunday or mid-week turkey fajitas. Turkeys can be frozen for around 2 months, giving you plenty of time to use the leftover meat and ensuring that nothing goes to waste. Turkey meat is a very lean, healthy meat, full of protein, making it perfect for that January health kick.
3. Boxing Day Buffet
After all the effort that goes into preparing a Christmas dinner, no one really wants to get up on Boxing Day to prepare an entirely new spread to entertain. Therefore, leftovers are the greatest blessing! Simply carve up leftover turkey and place it on boards and plates with fresh bread, cheeses, cranberry sauce and salads for a delicious but easy and waste-free Boxing Day meal.
4. Make pie for the homeless
Everyone deserves a delicious meal on Christmas, and not everyone is lucky enough to get one. Use the leftover turkey meat to create a delicious homemade pie to give to somebody you know who’s vulnerable or even a homeless charity who are taking donations for Christmas dinners. Having the meat already cooked will mean the pie will take you no time at all and will make a huge difference to someone’s day. However, this year be sure to use gloves and wear a mask when doing a handover however and be extra vigilant with hygiene when cooking for others. Find a great recipe here.
5. Treat your furry friends
This may seem like an extravagant suggestion, but our dogs, cats and other meat-eating pets do deserve the best and what better day for a treat than Christmas Day. While dogs and cats should not be fed turkey in excess, a small amount of white turkey meat (turkey breast with no bones and skin removed) is a good once-in-a-while treat for your furry companion and will be worth it.
6. Make Stock
Making our own stock seems to have been left in the past now that there is the ease and convenience of stock cubes and granules. However, these are absolutely no match for the flavour, nutritional value and satisfaction of homemade stock. Making stock uses up all the entire leftover carcass as well as the pieces of meat that you don’t necessarily want to eat. It can then lend itself to many a winter-warmer, perfect for a cosy holiday evening. There’s a wealth of recipes online about how to make turkey stock.
7. Make turkey skin scratchings
We all love a bit of crispy and crunchy fat every now and then when we’re treating ourselves. However, often the skin of roasted turkey doesn’t come out quite as crispy as we would like, or it does but we’re left with a dry turkey. By baking the left-over turkey skin, you can turn it into a deliciously crispy topping perfect to go on sandwiches, salads or baked potatoes. Think the Christmas version of pork crackling.
8. On-the-go soup jars
Heading back to work sooner than you’d like? Well then why not take a delicious leftover homemade lunch with you. These on-the-go soup jars allow you to make fresh soup at work with ease. Using ready-made turkey meat, a variety of vegetables and either noodles or zucchini noodles, all you need to do is add hot water and let the already prepped ingredients do the rest. Find a recipe here.
9. Filling for dumplings
With time on your hands during the holidays why not make your own dumplings rather than ordering in? By using your leftover turkey meat, half the work is already done. According to Bon Appetit, by blending the meat with olive oil in a processor you will be able to create an excellent filling.
10. Share it
After all, Christmas is a time for giving. If you feel like the turkey bird is too big for you and your family, why not simply share the meat with a neighbour or friend. Organise a COVID-19 safe exchange and spread the cheer a little further.
The reasons to buy a big turkey this year extend far beyond being able to enjoy delicious meals well past the big day. Turkey is also an extremely healthy meat as it is high in protein, B vitamins and supports muscle growth and maintenance. With the year we have had we know more than ever how important it is to take care of, and value, our health.
Finally, by buying a big turkey you’ll be supporting the smaller British farmers this year, who are likely to run into trouble if families opt for smaller birds. You’ll be doing your bit to ensure that these farmers can keep producing the quality meat they do all year. So, buy big to celebrate big (in small numbers), support British businesses and keep the festive spirit alive by keeping to tradition and enjoying a traditional roast turkey for Christmas this year!
Parson’s Nose is a premium online butcher offering Christmas meats online throughout the festive period. Buy our fresh product online or simply pop into one of our local stores based in Fulham, Putney and South Kensington.
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