Sometimes I think that leftovers are the best bit about Christmas feasting. OK, the evidence of over-catering can be somewhat dispiriting, and you may even ask yourself whether anybody ate anything at all. They certainly drank enough, though - the empties piled up outside the back door are evidence of that - but all that hacked-about turkey, piles of brussels sprouts, tired-looking roast potatoes, congealed bread sauce and, oh yes, the Christmas pudding - clearly you were the only person who had any of it. It doesn't get any easier when you try to sell the idea of eating any of it to your family.
"Cold turkey is not as nice as hot turkey and hot turkey is just durr."
"I can't abide Christmas pudding on Christmas Day, so what makes you think it's going to be any better two days later?"
"Sprouts! Why do we always have to have sprouts when you know no one eats any?"
And so on and so on. So you stare with increasing gloom at the increasingly unappealing piles of festive fare before binning the lot with a sigh of relief.
No, come on - that's just wasteful. A little thought, a bit of research, a dig around in the back catalogue ... it is at times such as these that the home cook calls on the wisdom of ages. This is not the time for wild experiment. Instead, I go for the recipes that have been tried and tested by generations of Fort providers. Well, mostly, anyway.
Recipes serve six.
In the Aga-ed days of my childhood, we looked forward to devilled turkey, my brothers and I (our sister was too small to appreciate high culinary matters), with far greater anticipation than we did to the roast turkey itself . Something about the notion of devilling appealed hugely - those fierce, fruity, sparky flavours were so much more interesting than those of the day before. There was also the thought that once we had finished the devilled bird, we wouldn't have to eat turkey for another year. The principle of devilling is very simple - it's like a marinade, really - and you can vary the ingredients as you see fit. Just remember, the point of the whole business is to make edible what proved inedible on Christmas Day.
1 dssp dry mustard powder
4 tbsp Worcester sauce
4 tbsp chutney
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper
The remnants of 1 Christmas turkey
Mix all the ingredients, save for the turkey, to make the devilling paste. Cut the leftover meat off the turkey breast, and cut off the wings and legs in their entirety. Cut the thighs off the legs. Slash all the meat quite deeply with a sharp knife. Spoon the devilling paste over the turkey bits, making sure it gets well into the slashes. Go on - use your hands. Leave for an hour. Now put under a hot grill for 10 to 12 minutes - don't put it too close to the flame, or the meat will dry out too much - and serve hot.
Bubble and squeak with Stilton
Not very original, I know, but still yummy. The beef dripping is essential, in my view - it adds that extra padding of warmth and pleasure (substitute vegetable fat if you really must). Very nice with a few bits of bacon and a fried egg, too, if you want a light snack.
500g leftover roast potatoes, roughly mashed
500g leftover brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
125g Stilton (though any cheese will do, really), chopped into small bits
Salt and pepper
Mix together the potatoes, sprouts and cheese, and season generously. In a frying pan, melt a good chunk of beef dripping (a lump about the size of a plum), then plop in the bubble and squeak mixture and fry, turning from time to time, so that those nice brown bits underneath are broken up and incorporated more generally through the dish. Serve straight from the pan - you can't have any fancy nonsense with bubble and squeak.
I'm assuming that most people will ignore my advice of last week to make Christmas pudding soufflé this year, so you'll all probably have a certain amount of pudding left over - quite possibly more than a certain amount: as a friend said the other day, "It wouldn't be Christmas pudding if it didn't make you sick." Help is at hand - a dish that clings to your teeth in a dispiriting fashion and fills your mouth with dark, slightly burned flavours is transformed when it's fried in butter (what isn't?). The ice cream works brilliantly with the fried pud.
For the ice cream
100ml full cream milk
At least 150g leftover brandy butter
234ml double cream
For the fried pudding
50g unsalted butter
1 rejected Christmas pudding, cut into small bits
First make the ice cream. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly. Heat the milk in a pan until boiling, then pour into the eggs, whisking all the time. Return the custard to the pan and heat very gently until it begins to thicken. Allow to cool. When cool, add the brandy butter. Whisk the cream until it is almost stiff, then carefully fold into the custard mix.
Churn in an ice-cream machine or, if you don't have one, freeze for two hours until it begins to set, then whisk vigorously to get air into the mixture and return to the freezer - repeat this a couple of times if you want a really soft ice, though it's not strictly necessary. Defrost slightly before serving.
Melt the butter in a frying pan, and when it begins to foam add the pudding bits and fry over gentle heat for five to 10 minutes until a nice crust has formed all over the outside of the pudding bits. Serve with the ice cream.