Rich ragu made from leftovers!

I don’t know about you, but I always cook for a crowd, even when there isn’t one! I can’t help it and this Christmas was no exception. But what to do with all of those leftovers? As you know I hate waste!
Turkey, beef and lot’s of veg. Of course there was going to be leftovers, but waste not want not. Here’s a wonderful recipe for a rich ragu to use up all your leftovers.

JOCCBThere was only four of us for Christmas dinner but I still cooked up a storm, I just love it. We had a wonderful rib of beef, loads of lovely veg (some of which were from my garden) and of course a small Turkey (well I couldn’t help myself).

I knew there would be leftovers and after all there’s nothing quite like cold meat, chips and pickles on Boxing Day.  But what on earth was I going to do with any leftovers after that?

I turned to my trusted cookbooks (I have a few!) and found a recipe in Jamie Olivers Christmas cookbook for a winter ragu. I’ve adapted his recipe to suit the leftovers I had and also because I wanted to use my slow cooker as I didn’t want to stand over a stove again.  I was super pleased with the result. We enjoyed a healthy serving for tea and even have another two large servings left for the freezer!

Here are some images from the process of making the ragu, it really was super easy and very tasty. We ate ours with some tagliatelle and easy peasy Piadina breads (a type of Italian flat bread), but the ragu would also be lovely with my garlic baguettes or my tear and share bread.

Although I used turkey and beef in my ragu, you could use absolutely any combination of left over meat, you can even chuck in any left over veggies you’ve got. Honestly, it’s super easy!. The finished ragu was thick and delicious and tasted amazing.


Below is the printable recipe for this wonderful ragu made with leftovers. For other recipes on my site please follow this link.

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Rich ragu from leftovers

  • Servings: Serves 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Use up your Christmas leftovers and make something wonderful.

Now as I’ve said above in the main body of my post. This is adapted from a recipe in a Jamie Olivers Christmas cookbook. I used my leftover beef, turkey and some bacon from the turkey, but you can pretty much use anything you’ve got. I diced up my veg really fine in my food processor, but to be honest chop it any how you like. I also used my slow cooker (which has a sear function on it) but I’ve provided timings below if you want to cook it on the hob – just remember, the longer you cook it the richer it will be.


  • 1 large onion (red or white is fine) very finely diced.
  • 2 large cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 or 2 carrots finely diced and a couple of sticks of celery finely diced (you can also chuck in any left over bits of Christmas veg such as sprouts, red cabbage, but don’t add potatoes).
  • A handful of sliced and roughly chopped mushrooms (I had chestnut and button).
  • A handful of fresh spinach (or you could use any winter greens)
  • Herbs of your choice (I used a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, a couple of stems of fresh thyme, a couple of fresh bayleaves and a sprinkling of dried oregano, but to be honest I think it’d be nice with other herbs too – just use what you’ve got).
  • 400g of leftover meat roughly torn up and a handful of leftover smoked streaky bacon from the turkey.
  • 200 ml of wine (red is best, but white will do, or you can make with stock if you don’t want to use the wine).
  • 1-2tbsps of olive oil.
  • 2 x tins of plum tomatoes (or 800g of pasata, or a mixture of the two).
  • A handful of fresh basil and either pasta or rice of your choice to serve.


  1. Heat some oil until really hot, turn the heat down and sear the onion, carrot, celery, garlic (and any other leftover Christmas veg) for about 10 – 15 minutes until soft, but not coloured. I did this in my slow cooker as it has a sear function. If you don’t want to use a slow cooker you can just make this all on the hob in a large heavy based pan.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the herbs and the wine or stock, let it bubble for a few minutes (especially if you are using wine).
  3. Add your tomatoes (or pasata, or a combination of the two). Fill each can of tomatoes about half full of water, give the water a swirl around to get all of the tomato goodness and then add that water to the pan too. Give it all a good stir. Don’t worry about breaking up the tomatoes at this point, you’ll be slow cooking for a while and they will break down naturally.
  4. Add your mushrooms and roughly torn meat and bacon and stir again. Bring to the boil then add your spinach, season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down very low and simmer for as long as you like. If using a slow cooker then simmer on low all day until you are ready to eat it (about 6-7 hours). If cooking on the hob then simmer for at least an hour on low, but you can leave it for up to three. The longer you cook it the richer the ragu will be. The finished ragu should be thick and glossy with very little liquid left. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Enjoy with some pasta or rice.

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Bread, Baking and More

Lover of bread, baking and growing my own veg.

5 thoughts on “Rich ragu made from leftovers!

  1. Hi Lizzie, We had this for tea tonight – if was delicious 😁. If you & Mark are coming over Solihull way anytime you should let me know and you can come and see my allotment for a look round – and a glass of something 😚!
    Regards, John

    Liked by 1 person

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