by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
from River Cottage Love your Leftovers (Bloomsbury) Photography © Simon Wheeler
To my mind, the lull between Christmas and New Year loses some of its savour if it isn’t fuelled at least in part by bowls of fragrant curry made from meaty leftovers. If turkey isn’t your thing, you can, of course, make this curry using chicken, lamb or beef.
2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil 2 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, halved and sliced
2–3 tablespoons home-made curry paste (see recipe below), or a favourite ready-made curry paste
Up to 400g roast carrots or parsnips (or use fresh ones), in chunky pieces
400ml tin coconut milk
200–300ml chicken stock (see page 28, or from a stock cube is fine), or gravy
1 bay leaf (optional)
400–500g roast turkey, white and/or dark meat, torn into large chunks
Juice of ½ lime
Generous handful of coriander and/or mint, tough stalks removed and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted cashews or flaked almonds, to finish (optional)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole over a medium-high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté quite vigorously, until they are softened and golden. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
Reduce the heat a bit, add the curry paste and stir for a minute, then toss in the vegetables and stir until they’re well coated in the fragrant, oniony curry mix.
Pour in the coconut milk and stock or gravy and stir well to combine with the spicy veg. Add the bay leaf, if using. If your pan is very large, you may need to add a bit more stock or water to cover, but don’t make it too soupy. You want the final mixture to be quite rich and thick.
Simmer for 10 minutes. If you’re using fresh rather than roast roots, simmer for an extra 5–10 minutes at this stage.
Now add the turkey and cook until thoroughly heated through, about 5–10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and about half of the coriander and/ or mint.
Scatter over the remaining coriander and/or mint, and the toasted nuts, if using. Serve with basmati rice, naan or flatbreads and your favourite chutneys.
Tips and Swaps
Curried turkey pie. This curry makes a great pie if you have any left over. Follow the instructions below.
Basic Curry Paste
This keeps well in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks or so. Alternatively, you can freeze it in ice-cube trays and decant the frozen curry cubes into a self-sealing bag – just take a few out every time you fancy a fiery feast:
In a small food processor, blitz 4 finely chopped shallots, 6-8 halved garlic cloves, 2 roughly chopped thumbs of ginger, 4-6 green chillies (membrane and seeds removed for less heat, if preferred), 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground coriander and 1 teaspoon ground turmeric with just enough water to make a smooth paste. Either store in a jar in the fridge or freeze until needed.
Stock. It’s where it all starts really. If you make your own, there’s hardly a better expression of your commitment to kitchen thrift, and judicious recycling of viable leftovers. And the rewards are great. A rich, flavoursome stock can turn the simplest of leftovers – some shredded chicken, a few greens, a handful of frozen peas – into supper in a matter of seconds. Any effort you put into saving some bones, simmering them up will be amply rewarded later, with an umami-rich broth, soup, curry or stew. Used like this – and I trot out a version almost every week – stocks are one of the finest and most versatile leftovers templates.
This also works with game birds and other types of poultry. Break any bits of carcass into the smallish bits. Add them to a large pan with the giblets if you have them, and any bits of skin and jellied juices left over from a roast. Add a couple of chopped carrots, a couple of celery stalks and an onion or some leek tops Toss in a couple of bay leaves and a few peppercorns, then pour in enough water to cover everything. Cook at a bare simmer for at least 3 hours, skimming off any scum from time to time. Strain, cool and refrigerate or freeze. If you’re low on freezer space, after straining, you can simmer the stock to reduce the amount of liquid, until it’s quite concentrated, before cooling and freezing. Remember to dilute it with boiling water before using.
Easy Leftover Pie
If there was ever any doubt about the widespread appeal of pie, we only have to look around when we travel abroad. In every country, in every culture, the simplest of ingredients wrapped up in dough are elevated to the sublime. We may differ in many ways and dispute many things, but we agree on this: fold a few good things in a pastry overcoat and the result is a thing of joy.
When you have a substantial amount of meaty or even veggie leftovers and some pastry on standby in the freezer, a pie is a genuinely quick option as well as a very appealing one. Sometimes all it takes to produce a pie is to tip last night’s stew into a pie dish, roll over the pastry and bake until golden. Of course you can line your pie dish with pastry in addition to topping it – then you get the gooey bottom as well as the crispy top; you’ll just need to double up the pastry.
In a large bowl or food processor, mix together 250g plain flour and a pinch of salt.
Add 125g chilled butter, cut into cubes, and rub in (or blitz in the processor, being careful not to overwork) until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Work in 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons cold milk or iced water to bind the pastry, adding a little extra liquid (up to another tablespoon) if needed.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead very gently to bring the dough together, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes before rolling out.
To make your pie
Spoon the filling into a pie dish (a pie funnel or an upturned egg cup in the middle of the dish will help stop the pastry becoming soggy). Brush the rim of the dish with water. Roll out your pastry (home-made shortcrust or bought puff ) to make a lid to cover the pie generously. Lay the pastry over the top of the pie dish and press the edges onto the rim. Trim off the excess pastry and brush the top with beaten egg or milk. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C/ Fan 170°C/Gas 5 for about 30–40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top golden.