Leftover Turkey, Ham and Gammon Curries

Turkey and Ham Curries

It seems obvious to most people that the time for eating turkey and ham curries is at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. And, of course, nearly all of these curries are made from leftover turkey and leftover ham.

But it may surprise you to learn that a lot of people are asking for advice about heating, freezing and reheating leftover turkey and ham curries throughout the year.

The main peak for these kinds of searches is around Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter but the level of search activity is surprisingly constant outside these festivals.

The Turkey and Ham Festivals

The USA celebrates Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November and Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October while. Some other countries also have a Thanksgiving festival but the largest by far are those of the USA and Canada.

And the main Thanksgiving festival meat in the USA and Canada is turkey.

And turkey meat is also very popular for Christmas meals (December 25th).

Christmas is also a popular time for ham (and gammon) meals.

And something that I did not know, ham (and gammon) is very popular at Easter (the dates for Easter change from year to year but is generally in March or April).

Why Leftover Turkey, Ham and Gammon?

Why are there so many searches for recipes on how to cook leftover turkey, ham and gammon?

Well, it is quite simple really – most people buy more meat than they need and are then left with it after the main festival meal and need to use it up before it goes bad.

The average weight of a commercially bred turkey is nearly 14KG (just over 30lbs). Now that is big. Most websites that I checked say that you can feed 30 people with this amount of turkey. Of course, not everybody goes for a turkey that is so big but most people buy a bigger turkey than they need – nobody wants to have too little turkey meat at a big festival dinner.

And the average weight of a ham or gammon joint seems to be in the region of 5KG (just over 11lbs). Once again, this is a lot of ham and should feed around 20 people. As with turkeys, people do not always buy the big sizes but will usually buy a bigger ham than they think they need so they have plenty for extra dinner guests.

So, inevitably, there is leftover turkey, ham and gammon once the big festival meals have been eaten.

Leftover Turkey, Ham and Gammon Curries

So what do you do with leftover turkey, ham and gammon?

Why, you make delicious curries. What else would you do and what else would you expect us to say?

There are some great leftover curry recipes on the Curry Focus website. There are leftover turkey curry recipes and leftover ham curry recipes. As yet, there are no recipes specifically for leftover gammon curries. If you have a recipe for a leftover gammon curry then why not email it to us at curryfocus@gmail.com and share it with everyone?

Cooked Meat Safety

We did a bit of research in order to help all of the people who search the Curry Focus website looking for tips and advice on looking after their leftover turkey, ham or gammon.

All of the following tips apply to turkey, ham and gammon.

You might get away with bending some of these rules but is the risk worth it? Especially as you do not need to waste or throw away and leftover meat at all if you follow these simple safety steps – all you need is a little planning.

Refrigerating and Freezing Leftover Meat

Once you have served your turkey, ham or gammon (with all of the trimmings) you need to refrigerate and/or freeze the leftover meat.

You should put the meat into the fridge within 1-2 hours of taking the cooked meat out of the oven, having served it up to your hungry family and friends.

One thing to be aware of is that the fridge door is opened a lot over a couple of days of the festival with people taking out food and drink. Not surprisingly, this increases the heat in the fridge. And sometimes the fridge is so full of food and drink, it really struggles to keep the temperature down to its ideal setting.

If you take out all of the meat so you can carve off a couple of slices, the whole meat joint starts to warm up. You should return the food to the fridge as soon as you have taken what you want (do not just leave the meat lying around).

You should not keep leftover turkey in the fridge for more than 2-3 days or leftover ham (and gammon) for more than 7 days.

So this is how you look after the food properly and reduce the risk of eating bad food.

First, you should cut up and put leftover meat into plastic bags (or containers) if you are going to be taking some out of the fridge over this safe period of days. If you do this, you will only be taking out the amount of meat that you need and the other meat will stay safely in the fridge.

Second, if there is too much leftover meat to be eaten over the safe day period, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. You should cut up the meat into portions that you will use in one go and put it into freezer bags (or containers) for the freezer, remembering to label them with the contents and date that you froze the contents (or the date by when the contents should be used).

Once you have defrosted the meat, you should use it right away and you must not refreeze it.

Leftover Turkey, Ham and Gammon Questions Answered

These are the specific questions that we have received in the last 3 months, along with the answers.

Question 1 – can leftover turkey and ham be reheated? The answer is yes, but only once. So you can use the leftovers to make tasty meals such as a curry.

Question 2 – can leftover turkey curries or leftover ham curries be reheated? The answer is no – you are effectively reheating the turkey or ham for a second time.

Question 3 – can you reheat frozen leftover turkey or ham? The answer is yes, but only once. So if you are freezing leftover meat, make sure that the portion sizes that you freeze are suitable for defrosting and making a meal.

Question 4 – can you freeze leftover turkey or ham more than once? The answer is no.

Question 5 – can you eat uncooked gammon? The answer is no. You can eat bought ham because it has been cured and is edible. But gammon needs to be cooked, like turkey does.

Question 6 – can you freeze a curry made from leftover turkey or ham? The answer is no – you will be reheating the turkey or ham for a second time when you come to eat it.

Question 7 – how can I freeze leftover turkey, ham or gammon? The answer is easy. Just strip the meat from the bones, measure the meat into portions that you want, put the meat into freezer bags or containers, label the meat so you know what it is and when you froze it and then pop the meat into the freeze.

Question 8 – how long can you keep leftover turkey, ham in the fridge? The answer is 2-3 days for leftover turkey and up to 7 days for leftover ham.

Question 9 – what should I do with leftover turkey or ham that looks off or smells bad? Answer – throw it away. Do not take any risks with food.

Question 10 – turkey is too big. Now this was not really a question. It looks like a statement. Does it mean that the turkey is too big to eat or too big for the oven? If it is too big for the oven then you need to cut it up and cook the smaller pieces. And if there is just too much turkey to eat, bag it and freeze it.

Enjoy the Food and Make a Curry

If you follow the simple rules about looking after cooked meat then you should enjoy some wonderful meals and be able to make some delicious curries.

The rules may look to be so simple as to be obvious, but we do notice a lot of searches for leftover turkey and leftover ham curry recipes 2 weeks after Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day (sometimes even longer). These people are taking big health risks if they are using meat that has been in the fridge for this length of time. Hopefully they froze the meat and are looking for some easy recipes to make yummy curries.

Remember, if you have any gammon curry recipes then send them to curryfocus@gmail.com so we can share them with all visitors to the Curry Focus website.
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