If you have managed to source a turkey that is free-range and locally produced this Christmas, you will no doubt want to make the most of every last morsel. Make your bird go further by reinventing leftovers into delicious meals that can span several days. It not only saves costs, but it's also good for you.
1. The bones
Bones form the basis of fine-quality, nutrient-dense stock – a great source of gelatine and minerals and the staple requirement for homemade soups, stews and risottos.
Collect the bones from your roast turkey. Add the turkey neck, feet and wingtips if you have them, then place all of them in a cooking pot, add ¼ cup vinegar and cover with cold water.
You can also add fresh vegetables (carrots, celery, parsnip, onions or leeks) and herbs (thyme, rosemary, borage or nettle) for extra flavour and added nutrition.
Bring the contents of the cooking pot to the boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Turkey stock needs a minimum of 1 hour to cook, but it can be cooked for up to 6-12 hours to extract the maximum nutrients from the bones.
When finished, drain the solids from the cooking pot and discard. The liquid can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
Bring one litre of turkey stock to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add a handful of thin rice vermicelli noodles, 5 fresh baby corn, ½ cup thinly sliced mushrooms, 1 cup shredded leftover turkey meat and 1 bok choy cut into thin strips. Cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add a dash of soy sauce and Ume Su plum vinegar. Season to taste. Pour into four soup bowls and garnish with finely chopped spring onion, coriander and mint.
2. The meat
Leftover meat from your roast bird needs to be pulled off the carcass and refrigerated as soon as possible. It's worth separating it into white meat – which can be used for sandwiches and salads – and red meat – which is excellent for pies and stews.
Summer Risotto with garden greens and leftover turkey bits
Steam three cups of seasonal green vegetables – broad beans, asparagus spears and/or garden peas – until tender. Remove and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Sauté 1 finely chopped leek in a large frypan with 2 tsp butter until lightly browned. Add 300g Arborio rice and 125mL white wine and allow the wine to absorb for 3-5 minutes. Add 500ml turkey stock – a little bit at a time so that the rice does not go gluggy. You may not need all the stock. Cook until the rice is clear but still firm. Stir through 1 tbsp mascarpone cheese, the green vegetables and 1 cup shredded turkey meat. Season to taste. Pour onto serving plates and garnish with fresh mint, parsley and borage leaves.
Turkey Salad in a jar (for the Boxing Day fishing trip)
In a 1-litre, wide-mouth glass jar place a handful of snow peas followed by six cherry tomatoes then scatter ½ cup shredded leftover turkey meat. Follow with a layer of thinly sliced carrot. Toss together a salad of lettuce leaves, balsamic vinegar, cold-pressed sunflower oil and olive oil. Add this to the jar then drizzle a little extra salad dressing down the edges before sealing with a lid.
3. The extra bits
The extra bits – the giblets, feet, neck and head – should never be thrown out: they are extremely nutritious and full of turkey-goodness.
Quick and easy techniques for cooking gizzards, heart, liver and feet
If your bird comes with a gizzard (the stomach), once cooked, try chopping it up finely, then blending it with your gravy for additional flavour. Liver can be gently fried with onions and brandy, and then pureed with butter to make a pate. The heart can be simmered with butter and herbs, and then tossed with breadcrumbs. The neck and feet should be added to the stockpot!
Save the fat
Turkeys are one of the leanest breeds of poultry so there usually isn't a lot of fat available to render. However, if you buy your bird directly from a farmer, or find one that is free-range with all the bits (particularly the neck, back and tail) intact, you might be in luck.
The birds that contain the best quantity of fat, with the healthiest fatty acid profile, are those that have led a life close to what nature intended – with a diverse range of food in their diet and plentiful access to pastures where they are able to roam free.
Fat can be rendered from the cooking juices after roasting, or from the skin on the back, neck and tail before cooking. To render: cut off the areas of fat with some poultry shears, chop into small pieces and place in a small saucepan with roughly 1/3 cup water to every 500g fat. Place in a pan over a low heat and let it melt gently for 2-4 hours. When the skin turns a yellowy colour, strain off the fat through a cheesecloth into sterilised glass jars and repeat the process by adding more water. The rendered fat will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.