The Vintage Chef Olivia Potts

How to use up your Christmas leftovers

How to use up your Christmas leftovers
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I’m going to keep this short, because if you have flung yourself into the festivities, or simply survived them, and are now sizing up piles of leftovers wearily and warily, the last thing you want to do is read a blog post. If that’s not the case, please feel free to trawl my archives and fill your boots. But it’s important not to waste valuable Quality-Street-eating or telly-gazing time on recipe-based mirth. So know this: this Leftovers Pie will save your Boxing Day.

Here are the headlines: this dish is (a) easy, (b) delicious and (c) entirely adaptable according to what you have in the house. Got stuffing? Throw it in! Leftover roast potatoes? Squash them down and mix them through. A surplus of pigs in blankets? I don’t believe you, that’s just ridiculous. I’ve done this with goose before, but it’ll happily take any poultry, and any pork-based product, and if you don’t have leeks, just cook down a boatload of onions really slowly, and add them.

Really, this is less of a recipe, and more of an encouragement to throw whatever leftovers you have into a pan, and then cover them in pastry. The whole point is that you should be able to make this pie without any fuss, and using up things you’ve got in clingfilmed bowls or stuffed somewhere at the back of your freezer. It’s a completely gorgeous pie, by the way, comforting, and packing a real punch of flavour. It’s substantial but without being too rich for the post Christmas slump.

You’ll see in the ingredients that there is pre-bought puff pastry. Because, frankly, if you’re the sort of person who is emotionally capable of making even rough puff pastry on Boxing Day, I’m not sure we can be friends.

It goes like this:

Leftovers Pie

Makes: 4 generous portions, 6 more decorous ones.

Bakes: 35 minutes

Takes: 35 minutes

1 kg leeks, sliced into 1/2 centimetre rounds

A splash of olive oil and a smidge of butter

Pinch of dried or fresh thyme

As much cold turkey, goose or chicken meat as you have (400-600g is a good guide), torn into big chunks

Any leftover ham, torn into small pieces

2 heaped tablespoons plain flour

1/2 pint chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons crème fraîche (if you have it)

500 g puff pastry

1 egg yolk, beaten

1. Melt a smidge of butter with a splash of oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, and fry the leeks for 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of thyme.

2. Put the lid on the pan, and reduce the heat to quite low. Cook the leeks at this temperature for 30 minutes, checking on them every 10 minutes or so and giving them a shove to make sure they’re not catching on the bottom of the pan. They’ll give off a lot of liquid, so really should be fine.

3. When your leeks have had their time, preheat the oven to 190°C.

4. Now come the leftovers: add all your meat to the pan and stir through. Add anything extra at this point (Stuffing? Potatoes? Sprouts?). Stir it all through, and then mix in the flour. Add the stock and stir again, and the creme fraiche if you’re using it. Bring the mixture gently to a boil. If the mixture seems too wet for your liking, reduce a little bit.

5. Decant the pie mixture into a large, deep pie dish. Using the whole sheet of puff pastry if you have a sheet, or rolling it so the there’s an inch or so excess on each side if not, place it on top of the filling and tuck the excess in, or loosely crimp it around the edge. Paint the pastry with the egg yolk (mixed with a tiny bit of salt) so that the pastry burnishes as it cooks.

6. Bake for 35 minutes until puffed and golden and gorgeous.

7. Ta Dah!

Icing on the Cake

If you’re making leftovers pie, the last thing you want to be doing is fannying around with accoutrements, so we eat this with lots of frozen peas and nothing else.

Written byThe Vintage Chef Olivia Potts

Olivia Potts is a former criminal barrister who retrained as a pastry chef. She co-hosts The Spectator’s Table Talk podcast and writes Spectator Life's The Vintage Chef column. A chef and food writer, she was winner of the Fortnum and Mason's debut food book award in 2020 for her memoir A Half Baked Idea.

Topics in this articleWine and Food