Ever since Charles Dickens described Christmas dinner in his novella A Christmas Carol it has been a centre piece of the Christmas celebration.
“This idea of plum pudding and a turkey that’s stuffed…this idea of food and family that is literally one of the most joyous pieces of Dickens’ Christmas Carol,” said Shannon Robertson who has studied and taught courses about A Christmas Carol.
Christmas dinner continues to be a joyful part of modern celebrations.
And with any feast there are always leftovers at Christmas.
Westcreek Pub Head Cook Wendy Frew has a few suggestions for what people can do with the leftover Turkey.
“Never leave your meat on the bone,” she said.
There is a kind of bacteria that will start to grow when the meat is left on the bone said Frew.
Frew said she usually bakes a turkey every year for Christmas and debones the leftover the same day.
She’ll use the bones to make soup stock and bakes a second meal out of the leftover meat.
“I get the little rolls of the Pillsbury dough,” she said, “I’ll mix in my stuffing my potatoes, everything that’s left into the bun itself and bake it in the oven and it’s like a meal in a bun.”
Frew doesn’t like to keep leftovers around for longer than three days.
“That’s just me though,” she said.
Another suggestion Frew has is to make a breakfast quiche the next morning.
Some other Chestermere residents shared their Christmas dinner traditions and leftover recipe’s with The Anchor.
Mayor Patricia Matthews
Christmas dinner at the Matthews’ consist of turkey, ham, scalloped potatoes, perogies, Yorkshire puddings, Brussel sprouts and a plethora of veggies and English trifle and fruit pies.
“[There is] enough to feed a small hoard with leftovers the next day,” said Matthews.
The leftover turkey and stuffing is eaten the next day in buns with leftover pie.
“There has never, ever been leftover trifle,” she said.
Any remaining leftovers are then made into turkey pot pie using a recipe Matthews found online in the ATCO Christmas cookbook at http://staging.atcoblueflamekitchen.com/Recipes/Recipe-Box/Pages/TURKEY-POT-PIE.aspx
RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Mark Wielgosz
Staff Sgt. Wielgosz cooks deep fired turkey, garlic onion mashed potatoes, balsamic vinegar steamed vegetables (zucchini, carrots, green beans), yorkshire pudding, gravy, and stuffing for his family’s Christmas dinner.
He said that this there won’t be too many leftovers as he is expecting a full house.
“We have lots of people and kids coming over,” said Wielgosz.
In past years they have had enough for a few days of leftovers which are served as open face turkey sandwiches, and turkey dinner until it is all eaten.
Assistant Director Chestermere Public Library Cathy Burness
Burness’s Christmas dinner tends to get away from tradition a little.
“I am a gluten free vegan who is allergic to soy, so as the provider of the Christmas feast, dinner is always interesting,” she said, “some of my kids eat like me and some don’t.”
Because of her dietary restrictions, Christmas dinner can vary from year to year. As of Dec. 22, Burness hadn’t decided on what to serve for Christmas dinner this year.
“I’m pretty unconventional, so I don’t like the idea of spending all day (or starting days ahead of time) to prepare a meal,” she said.
“I would rather be visiting and enjoying time with my friends and family,” said Burness.
Last year Christmas dinner consisted of lasagna, salad, lots of veggies and she belives cookies for desert but can’t remember for certain.
“The lasagna was really rice noodles and the cheese wasn’t really cheese, so I don’t know if it is even legal to call it lasagna,” she said, “but whatever it was, it was yummy and filling.”
Since the main course changes year to year the amounts of leftovers tend to fluctuate as well.
They usually have leftovers for lunches though.
Burness tends not to measure much when cooking and doesn’t often stick to a recipe.
“I do remember my daughter in law giving me a really weird look one time when I was preparing food for them.
When I inquired what that look was for she said ‘that’s the first time I’ve ever seen you measure anything,’.” said Burness.
She has been told that the mysterious items that will be on the menu are a topic of conversation on the drive over.
“[It] seems to me they always leave with full bellies and I see lots of smiles around the dinner table,” she said, “They claim to love my cooking and I choose to believe that.”
Burness’ shared her favorite gluten free vegan cookie recipe.
3 cups of almond flour (or ground almonds), 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 cup oil (I use coconut oil), 2/3 cup maple syrup, 2 tsp. vanilla, dash of salt. Chocolate chips or nuts are optional.
Burness bakes at 350 until she can smell them, but the original recipe says 15 to 20 minutes.
Chestermere Regional Food Bank Executive Director Mardi Oel
For decades, Christmas dinner at the Oel household has consisted of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, sweet potato, cranberry jelly, apple pie and pumpkin pie.
And for just as long there have been mountains of leftovers that are turned into hot turkey sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches and microwaved turkey dinner.
This past Thanksgiving, Oel decided to experiment with new leftover recipes to see just how many meals she could get out of one turkey.
Many of the recipes came from Google searches and made and froze over 30 individual dishes, set herself up with months of food.
With her success at Thanksgiving, the leftovers from Christmas dinner may make their way into these recipes again.
Before starting on the leftovers, Oel suggests a little preparation; follow the Tenderflake lard recipe, make plenty of gravy and mashed potatoes and be sure to cut every inch of meat off the bird and cut into bite sized chunks.
Two of the recipes Oel tried were:
TURKEY A LA KING
Ingredients: 2 T butter, ½ cup cream, 3 fresh mushrooms sliced, 1 C turkey, 1T all purpose flour, 1/3 C frozen peas, 1 C chicken broth and salt & pepper to taste.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook butter until golden brown. Saute mushrooms until tender. Stir in flour until smooth. Slowly add broth and cook until slightly thickened. Stir in cream, turkey and peas. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened. Season with salt & pepper. Serve over puff pastry, biscuits, toast or rice.
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chile peppers drained, 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas, 4 oz. cream cheese softened, 1 (16oz.) jar salsa, ½ t ground cumin, 1 (16oz.) can kidney beans, 2 C chopped turkey, 1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
Preheat oven to 350; lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
1. Mix chile peppers, cream cheese and cumin. Stir in turkey.
2. Place tortillas in microwave; heat for 1 minute until tortillas are softened. Spread about 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixture on each tortilla and roll up. Place tortillas, seam side down in a single layer in the baking dish.
3. Combine salsa and beans. Spoon over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the top with cheese.
4. Bake 20 minutes.
Great topped with black olives, green onions, tomatoes and sour cream.