Still Yummy Christmas Leftovers!

Riddle: What key has legs but can’t open doors? Clue: It’s the key who said, “You only loved me for my breasts!”

“That’s lame, mom!” But what’s a party without jokes? No one laughed. Hmmm… I’ll need sympathetic audience and new guests list.

I like to think that I am a generous host be it entertaining friends and relatives or having my children over for family meals. I tend to buy a lot to cook but I have always been an advocate for not wasting food.

Festive seasons are the main culprits for excessive leftovers in my family when the number of guests are unpredictable and thus more food is prepared in anticipation of “gate-crashers” and late-comers on open-house days. On such occasions, I will try to salvage as much food as I can either by packing them for friends and relatives who are willing to bring back some of the goodies or freezing them for future use.

After nearly 3 months, the future has caught up and it is time to clear my freezer of last Christmas’ leftover turkey, ham and sausages! I spent last week wondering how to turn my frozen scraps into something delicious. It has to be yummy for if no one will eat them then I would be throwing away good money buying secondary ingredients to make dinner out of the original “sin” called, Wastage!

In 2015, Singapore generated 786 million kilograms of food wastage. That’s like every person throwing away two bowls of food per day or over 10 millions bowls of food across Singapore! A waste of not just our hard earned money but more importantly, precious resources.

Let us talk about safe storage before we talk about giving old food new life.

Tips for keeping the leftover turkey (or perishables) fresher longer:
1. Carve leftover turkey meat off the bones before refrigerating/freezing. Place the leftover turkey and stuffing in separate containers.

2. Divide leftover turkey and other cooked dishes into smaller portions and refrigerate/freeze them in covered shallow containers/freezer bags for quicker cooling as well as defrosting. I had turkey breast slices and thigh meat chunks, cheese sausages (whole – I packed in pairs), and honey baked ham which was divided into 2 inch thickness.

3. Storage time for leftover cooked meat in…
Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days.
Freezer: 2 to 3 months.

Coming out of hibernation, these leftovers were given 2 umami-laden makeover before making their yummilicious entrance onto our family’s dining table, last week! The two dishes are deviations of well-known foods i.e. Yang Zhou Fried Rice (揚州炒飯), the original Chinese fried rice which is made primarily with shrimp and egg and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, which has some ingredients and spices (“Holy Trinity” vegetables and Filé spice) not used in my recipe. Instead, I have used vegetables and seasonings not heard of for gumbo dishes. I am not apologetic though, the reinvented gumbo turned out very racy!

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Mis en place for Leftover Christmas Turkey Fried Rice.

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Leftover Christmas Turkey Fried Rice.

Leftover Christmas/Thanksgiving Turkey Fried Rice Recipe (serves 3 – 4 persons)
3 cups Cooked Rice (*overnight in fridge, bring out to room temperature before cooking).
2 tablespoons Peanut Oil, plus more for frying omelet.
2 cloves Garlic, minced.
Thawed Turkey Breast, cut into cubes (guideline 2 cups, use more or less to your liking).
1 cup frozen Mixed Vegetables, thawed and rinsed with hot water and drained.
1 Egg, well beaten (to be fried with the rice).
*2 Eggs, lightly beaten (add a pinch of salt and cooked into omelet, and shred thickly).

Note: You may want to fry sunny-side ups (one egg for each diner). Leave out the *2-egg omelet ribbons if so.

I don’t normally have overnight rice in fridge so what I do is to cook rice and let them cool down to warm/room temperature before using for fried rice.

1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce.
1 – 2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce.
Ground White Pepper Powder, to taste.
Salt, to taste (final adjustment).
A few dashes of Sesame Oil, to perfume finished product.

Garnishing (optional):
Scallions, chopped.
Cilantro, chopped.
Red Chilli Pepper, sliced (deseeded if prefer less heat).

1. Heat up a wok with some oil and fry the two beaten eggs for omelet. Dish out and let cool. When cold enough to handle, slice into thick shreds/ribbons. Set aside.

2. Put in 2 tablespoons oil into the wok, add minced garlic and stir fry until opaque with golden brown edges.

3. Add the rice and give it a few quick stir to get coated with oil. Add the turkey and mixed vegetables. Fry for a few minutes. Now pour the beaten egg over and around the rice. Turn up heat and fry until the egg gets “absorbed” into the rice.

4. Add in the light soy sauce, oyster sauce and white pepper powder. Continue to stir the fried rice for a couple of minutes. Add in the omelet strips. Mix well. Taste to see if salt is necessary.

5. Turn off heat and drizzle some sesame oil around the rice, stir well to combine.

6. Dish out and serve hot garnished with chopped spring onions, coriander and cut chillies. Or with a side of sambal belacan mixed with freshly squeezed calamansi juice.

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Leftover Christmas/Thanksgiving Turkey Fried Rice served with a side of Sambal Belacan mixed with some freshly squeezed Calamansi juice.

I’m sure you know the answer to the riddle by now. Please pretend to laugh heartily. You might get invited to my next party, yes?

Lookout for my Hot Piquant Gumbo Recipe in upcoming post!

Happy cooking, eating and bonding! 🙂

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