Cold turkey

Keep an eye out for Good Housekeeping, Delia Smith or Mary Berry books from the 1980s and 1990s in charity shops if you want some inspiration for what to do with leftovers: recipes written by cooks who learned their craft during post-war rationing, and when domestic freezers were a rarity. 

The key to successful leftover cookery is to completely transform an item, with spices or format, so that it bears no resemblance to its former self. Turkey has a flat flavour and dense texture, which seizes and becomes hard when it’s reheated in slices. Better to leave some meat on the carcass (in the fridge obviously) and shred it along the grain for later use. This will yield a softer texture and will be easier to heat to a safe temperature.



Turkey pilaff

This is from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it’s pretty versatile in terms of the quantity of turkey and beans etc that you use, just make sure the ratio of stock to rice stays the same.


Serves 4, prep time 20 mins, cook time 45 mins, NOT suitable for freezing. 

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

8 baby onions (halved) or two normal onions (chopped)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp medium curry powder (or paste) 

1 tsp ground mixed spice

2 tsp ground coriander

2 celery sticks, thickly sliced

125g dried apricots, halved

225g easy-cook brown rice

750ml chicken stock

350g cold, shredded cooked turkey

125g french beans, trimmed and halved

50g hazelnuts, toasted if you can bear it

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onions, garlic, spices and celery and fry for 10 mins until browned. Add the apricots and rice and stir-fry for a minute until the grains are glossy.

2 Pour in the stock, stir well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes, season and serve.



Emma Page