Fast leftover ideas from Australia’s best chefs

Author: Maya Kerthyasa
Photography: Chris Chen

Christmas Day has passed. You've cooked the meal, fed the masses and somehow you've still got a fridge full of food. Coming up with new ways to use even the best leftovers isn't always an easy task, though (especially if you've enjoyed a few eggnogs the day before), so we've called on the nation's top chefs to do the thinking for us. Here's how they'll be making the most of their Christmas leftovers.

Pablo Tordesillas, Ortiga, Brisbane
I'm going to use my leftover prawns to make a Russian salad with some white asparagus, Dutch cream potatoes, capers, Granny Smith apples and homemade mayonnaise. With my turkey trimmings I'll make some croquetas, adding some lemon zest to the béchamel. Being Spanish, I always have some Turrón de Jijona nougat left over so I'll chop it up, heat it with some cream, add a few eggs, make a caramel and bake it in a bain-marie to make a flan de turrón.

Flavio Carnevale, Popolo, Sydney
With the ham I'll make mini calzoni filled with ham, cheese and tomato salsa. With the prawns, a cold prawn salad with Sicilian olives, grated lemon rind, parsley and celery heart, and with the fish, paccheri with cherry tomatoes, garlic, chilli and basil.

Kerby Craig, Ume, Sydney
In my house on Boxing Day we always have heaps of leftover leg ham and cooked prawns. Plus, for some reason my dad always buys about 300 bread rolls, so there's plenty of bread too. I'm usually still pretty full and slightly hungover, so I always want something easy. I'll be making prawn, ham and avocado sandwiches.

Dan Hunter, Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Vic
Leftovers would be nothing more than a classic leg ham sandwich with homemade horseradish mustard. But I'm partial to skipping the leftovers on Boxing Day and heading down to Lakes Entrance to the fishing co-op's fish and chip shop for some flatty tails.

David Moyle, The Stackings, Woodbridge, TAS
I spend Christmas at my family's house in the Victorian fishing village of Port Fairy so we traditionally have a seafood-oriented lunch (cold fish salads), and abalone broth for a low-maintenance dinner and maybe for the following day.

Vincenzo LaMontagna, Vincenzo's Cucina Vera, Adelaide
To make the best of Christmas leftovers this year I'm going to pack them up and head south-east with the family and try a spot of fishing.

Barry McDonald, Fratelli Fresh, Sydney
I'm going to invite friends over for lunch three days running - different friends every day, so no one (bar my family) is subjected to the same food over and over.

Kiren Mainwaring, Dear Friends, Perth
We're lucky this year to have goose and duck eggs from the farm. I think all that will be left over will be the luxurious goose fat and feet, so I think I'll make confit goose feet with a duck egg omelette. A Boxing Day breakfast of champions!

Alejandro Cancino, Urbane, Brisbane
This will be my first year celebrating Christmas as a vegan, so I don't really know what I'm going to do. What I am sure of is that there'll be no animal products on my table. I'll invite as many friends as I can and what­ever's left over will be my meal for the beginning of the year.

Jowett Yu, Mr Wong, Sydney
I'm going to take the remaining pieces of pork I'll have from my smoked ham, jamón, roast pork and char siu and use them in a fried rice or noodle dish.

Ben Greeno, Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney
I'll take all the meat off the (turkey or duck) carcass and shred it, make a broth with all the bones, season with soy and mirin, then add in some warm udon noodles, sliced spring onions and the shredded meat.

Adam D'Sylva, Coda, Melbourne
I'm going to make crisp rice paper rolls. The filling will be leftover Peking duck, and I'll serve them with plenty of crisp iceberg lettuce, Vietnamese mint and an extra spicy nuoc mam dipping sauce.

Fabio Dore, Popolo, Sydney
With the leftover suckling pig I'll make Sardinian-style oven-baked empanadas, filled with shredded pork, wilted English spinach and a thick béchamel sauce. I'll use puff pastry made with lard, flour and water, and brush them with whisked egg. With the leftover seafood (calamari, scampi, lobster, prawns, mussels) I'll make a cold seafood salad with fregola, adding Spanish onion, celery, tomato and parsley to make it "a la Catalana" style. With the leftover panettone I'll make a layered dessert similar to tiramisù with whipped cream and sliced panettone soaked in pineapple juice, topped with thinly sliced fresh pineapple.

David Swain, Fino, Willunga, SA
I'm going to poach the leftover stone fruit and serve it with a Champagne sabayon.

Zac Ronayne, Petaluma's Bridgewater Mill, Bridgewater, SA
First, on Boxing Day morning, I'm going to eat more turkey, rice, stuffing and gravy for breakfast, followed by turkey sandwiches with cranberry for lunch. Once most of the meat has been finished off, I'll make a stock with the carcass using lots of ginger, onion, a little star anise, soy and a bit of mirin and simmer it away overnight. The following day I'll eat turkey noodle soup with plenty of spring onion, lemon and soy. By then I should be done until next year.

James Parry and Dan Puskas, Sixpenny, Sydney
Seriously, we have nothing left over besides ham. So it's ham for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the best is ham and potato salad sandwiches.

Ben Williamson, Gerard's Bistro, Brisbane
I'll be turning all that leftover seafood into escabeche. It makes a cracking sandwich with smoked butter on sourdough. I did this last year and got hooked on the combination of sour, salty and smoky. So simple and so good.

Joel Valvasori-Pereza, Lalla Rookh, Perth
I'm going to make calzoncini with leg ham, green tomato pickle, basil and buffalo mozzarella. They're a variation on the street food I found while travelling in the Campania several years ago. In essence they're a deep-fried pizza pocket; a great accompaniment to a few Italian lagers.

Nick Bennett, Trocadero, Melbourne
I'm going to make turkey, cranberry and Fontina toasted sandwiches, Christmas Eton mess (pudding, custard, meringue, berry coulis) and prawn polo buns with spring onion and ginger.

Jock Zonfrillo, Penfolds Magill Estate, Magill, SA
I'm going to invite my closest friends over for a Boxing Day gathering - a day of fun and creative cooking with friends. There'll be a table jam-packed with everyone's Christmas leftovers together with some basics from the farmers' market - sweet, savoury and traditional. I'll make sure there's a selection of wood and charcoal to cook over and it'll be compulsory BYO (magnums, of course). Dinner will be served around five o'clock.

Hajime Horiguchi, Wasabi, Noosa, QLD
I'm going to take the remaining tai meshi (a Japanese special-occasion dish comprising whole snapper, rice, soy, sake and dashi steamed in a heavy ceramic pot) and add chopped mitsuba, julienned ginger and toasted white sesame seeds. I'll form it into onigiri rice balls to eat on Boxing Day after a surf at Noosa Heads. It's simple, delicious and nostalgic.

Ben Russell, Aria Brisbane
I am constantly surprised with the success I have with simply adding cheese and mayonnaise to leftovers and putting them in a jaffle-maker. Sometimes I have to sit on the thing to get it shut and then almost magically it's transformed into a pillow of cheesy goodness.

Neil Perry, Rockpool, Sydney
I'm going to have a big fry-up for breakfast and turn the leftovers into a delicious bubble and squeak.

Damien Pignolet, the Bellevue Dining Room, Sydney
I'm going to make a stock from the turkey carcass (after removing any flesh), then clarify it and bind it with leaf gelatine. As it begins to set I'll add the diced turkey flesh, avocado, mint and flat-leaf parsley then fill 180ml moulds. I'll serve it with Cumberland sauce and cornichons, and make a salad of witlof, walnuts, sliced apple or pear and coddled egg vinaigrette.

Steven Skelly, The Sailors Club, Sydney
I'll be making plum pudding ice-cream by soaking my homemade plum pudding in a mixture of buttermilk and milk, then proceeding with my trusty ice-cream recipe. The amount of booze used ensures a lovely soft ice-cream.

Sean Connolly, The Morrison, Sydney
I'm going to let my English heritage shine and make bubble and squeak.

Philip Johnson, One Eleven, Brisbane
I'm going to make a warm turkey salad with beetroot, roasted Spanish onion, hazelnuts and cranberry dressing.

Luke Burgess, Garagistes, Hobart
To make the best of the Christmas leftovers this year I'm going to leave the cooking to someone else.

Robert Marchetti, Gowings Bar & Grill, Sydney
I'll have warm leftover leg ham in a baguette with béarnaise sauce and tarragon. I'll also grill leftover panettone on the barbecue and have it for breakfast with coffee.

Nick Holloway, Nu Nu, Palm Cove, QLD
Invariably I order too many suckling pigs every Christmas and end up with a cool room full of roasted piggy (I use the awesome ones from Western Plains). Over the years we've used them in just about everything, but the recipes we always seem to go back to are a viciously spicy chilled salad of green mango, roast suckling pig, mud crab and lychees, and sandwiches made with our house-made organic casalinga, peach chutney (peach season is in October here), rocket and mustard mayo (we use Milawa green peppercorn mustard).

Hamish Ingham, Bar H, Sydney
I'm going to make pork buns from the roast suckling pig. That is, of course, if there's any left - it's pretty delicious.

Shannon Bennett, Vue De Monde, Melbourne
Make the ultimate breakfast. Tear stale sourdough into chunky pieces and fry them in a pan with a little olive oil over a medium heat until golden brown. Set aside. Over a medium heat, sauté shallots, capers, parsley, lemon juice and a little butter. Pour into a blender and lightly pulse until combined into a sauce. Roughly dice leftover ham and add it to a medium-heated pan then add the sauce. To serve, put the sourdough on a plate with two poached eggs on top. Spoon over the sauce and garnish with watercress.

Lennox Hastie, Sydney
How about a woodfired Welsh rarebit?

Chui Lee Luk, Claude's, Sydney
Our head chef Ben Sears suggested "Kentucky hot brown": turkey and bacon on rye bread smothered with mornay sauce and grilled. As much as I love variations of roux-based sauces, the idea makes me feel slightly queasy after all the Christmas excess. He then countered with the "cold brown", which sounds no better: include a hard-boiled egg, lettuce and tomato, and drop the mornay for Thousand Island dressing. I think I'd be happy without the dressing and just with a simple mayonnaise.

Hadleigh Troy, Restaurant Amusé, Perth
I'm going to make a ham, turkey and cheese omelette, which will no doubt be handy for the inevitable hangover.

Ben Shewry, Attica, Melbourne
To make the best of the Christmas leftovers this year, I'm going to give them to the neighbours and go surfing.

Jocelyn Hancock, Alfred and Constance, Brisbane
I love the cold cuts that our wood-baked Christmas ham provides in the following days. I'll make a frittata with a simple leaf salad, stone-fruit relish and a wedge of crusty sourdough.







View Full Site