Rarely can it be said that I get a rush from frugality. However, when it comes to leftovers there’s something immensely satisfying about making a meal from stuff that would otherwise get binned (and probably result in one of those annoyingly sanctimonious stickers the bin men leave on your rubbish saying, “no Food Waste please” when they can’t be bothered to take your rubbish away. There wasn’t any! It’s in the Food Waste Bin! Where it’s supposed to be! If you’re referring to the smear of butter left on the wrapper I disposed of in Household Waste, then I think you should consider a career in forensics. And whilst we’re at it, when did food waste become a proper noun?! grr…sorry. sore point).
Christmas, then. The ultimate leftover challenge. There’s just so much food isn’t there? Aside from the usual turkey which is relatively easy to use (broth/curry/stirfry), it’s the bits around the edges like stuffing, Christmas pudding and cranberry sauce that offer the most exciting quandaries. (Though I draw the line at my Father’s recommendation to put cranberry sauce in Nutri-bullet smoothies… too far, pa, too far). Here are my leftover offerings for this year:
- A kilo of uncooked stuffing (yes, clearly only pathological over catering could result in such vast quantities being unused. Scale down as you see fit)
- 450-600ml red wine
- 500ml passata
- 2 red onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A dash of cider vinegar (optional – see note below)
Roll the stuffing into golfball sized balls. Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches (patience – if you crowd the pan they won’t brown).
Meanwhile, slice the onions and sweat with a little oil until soft but not brown. Crush the garlic and add, together with some salt and pepper, cooking for a few moments more. Pour in the wine and boil hard until reduced by half.
Next add the passata and, if your stuffing is like mine quite sweet, a dash of vinegar. (My stuffing is pork, sage, onion, chestnuts, apricots so it the sauce wants to be a little sharp to balance things out). Simmer for a cook hour with the lid off so the whole lot can reduce.
Finally, add the meatballs and pop it all in the oven with a lid on for about 45 minutes. The sauce will be rich and glossy.
Serve with spaghetti, cheddar cheese and frugal smugness.
Christmas Pudding Ice-cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 60g caster sugar
- 600ml double cream
- a large handful of cooked and cooled christmas pudding
- A festive-sized slug of cognac (ie: big)
Serves 6 people (assuming they have already eaten a mountain so aren’t inclined to pig out).
First crumble the pudding on a plate and slosh over a slug of cognac. Leave to one side so the cognac soaks into the pudding.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar in a pan then whisk in the cream. Set over a gentle heat and stir constantly until thickened. Don’t stop stirring or it will go lumpy. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to hurry it along or it will go lumpy. Don’t add a sprinkle of cornflour to thicken it up a bit more or it will go lumpy. Just stir, relax and, if you have one, pop a thermometer in it – you’re aiming for 75°C. Remove and cool then churn in an ice-cream maker.
Once the ice-cream is churned add the crumbled, boozy pudding, and return to the churner for a few more turns to ensure everything is well mixed. Set in the freezer for a few hours then serve.
So Merry Christmas and enjoy your leftovers – best served in pyjamas with cartoons on the tellie and the wonderful realisation that you can’t remember what day it is…