Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Leftovers


Sandra Levine
 Share

Recommended Posts

With all the entertaining, home cooking, take-out and take-home that goes on here -- I wonder what happens to the leftovers.  Do you just snack later?  Re-heat for next night's dinner?  Or, turn them into something else?  That's what I did with an extra pint of rice from 5 Stars Punjabi Indian Cuisine.  The "plain rice" is deliciously flavored --  cumin, coriander, cardamon are my guess.  I made a custard using two cups of milk, two eggs and about 3/4 cup sugar, then added the rice after it thickened a bit.  After the rice absorbed the custard and solidified in the fridge, I stirred in enough creme fraiche to make it pudding-y.  The resulting rice pudding has an unusual flavor, but is no stranger than an herbal sorbet.  I recognize that this is a superficial and profane "fusion," but since I am a home-cook and not the chief of a Michelin-starred restaurant, I don't think that matters!  :smile:

What do others do with leftovers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually make them into something else. Terrines, pasticchio and whatnot.

Heh. The other day I had some leftover mashed potatoes, a wild mushroom and red wine gravy, and some breaded chicken thighs and drumsticks. I stripped the skin from the chicken, mixed the meat with the gravy, put it into a casserole pan, pressed the potatoes on top, dusted with grated pecorino and fresh bread crumbs. I baked the casserole, put the skin in the microwave to crisp it well. Minced up the crackling and scattered it over the faux "shepherd's pie".

It's also amazing what will work in fried rice.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your innovativeness is commendable!  For take out, I usually just reheat, or as in the case of pizza, occasionally eat it cold!  For leftover salmon, poultry or meat, I make a caesar salad or coleslaw and top it (especially great for blackened salmon)...or use it for quesadilla filling, or slice and make a sandwich.  I love leftover potatoes, for fried potatoes b-fast the next morning.  Leftover sausage, I slice and scramble w/eggs.  Once in awhile if I have too much of something really nice, I'll take some over to a neighbor.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once in awhile the confluence of leftovers in my fridge leads to a memorable (for me) dish. The other day, I thought for sure my dinner situation was going to be hopeless. But some leftover Chinese-restaurant rice, the tip of a Stew Leonard's beef tenderloin that I had thrown in the freezer and forgotten, some frozen peas (perhaps my favorite prepackaged frozen ingredient -- hmm, a possible thread), and a few of the staple items I typically have around (an egg, the Thai curry paste that comes in a yellow plastic canister, an onion, some garlic, various Asian soy-type sauces) came together as a very satisfying fried rice experience. I cracked open a bottle of Argyle's riesling and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Any leftover braised meat gets combined with some potatoes and made into hash for breakfast. That's usually really good.

We also have certain people in our social circle who can be relied upon to eat our leftovers. My brother-in-law, for example, is a very serious runner and his route often takes him by our place. Any leftover carbs can be disposed of in this manner, especially since our leftovers tend to be superior to the standard diet of an assistant district attorney.

Some of our leftovers go to waste, but not many. We used to be really bad about wasting food, but we've learned to integrate our home-cooking and takeout-ordering schedules into our dining-out schedule. With a little advance planning, we're able to make it work out pretty well.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I buy/plan leftovers.  I usually buy two or more servings of something in a takeout store and try to not over buy if I know I'm not going to be home.  I live alone and I'm the type of person who could eat the same lunch 3 days in a row. I work from home also, so leftovers are the makings of great lunches.

I re-heat most things in the microwave -with rare exceptions for crispy/crunchy things I find that if you pay attention to your time and power, everything comes out good and much better than a traditional oven. I'll also eat certain fish and other takeout and leftovers at room temperature.

Julliana

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We got a housemate who eats even things she didn't like as leftovers for lunch. I highly recommend this leftovers technique.

I usually pack my lunch out of leftovers from dinners I've made. I try not to eat out more than twice a week during the day, and lately it's usually only once a week that I go out.

I rarely do something else with my leftovers. I just heat 'n eat. I'm always impressed with people who do different meals out of a single dish. Though, we do cook extra beans when we bother to make them from dried, and freeze the leftovers for adding to chilis, bean salads and so on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got leftover shrimp and pea greens risotto in the fridge from last night that I'm going to make into patties and fry in butter for lunch (I've heard they do it that way in Italy). I imagine that you could fry anything in butter and it would be edible!

Another tip I picked up in Italy is making balls of cooked greens, which they sell in markets. I cook greens by boiling a huge container of salted water, then doing the cold water bath. It's such a deal, I usually cook more greens than I can eat and squish and press the leftovers into a ball. They go into the fridge or freezer. I use them later on sandwiches or dressed in a vinegrette.

What is pasticchio? (mentioned above)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

a left over that i grew up with and grew up loving is macoroni and cheese.  you can freeze the leftovers pretty much forever.  when you're ready to eat them, put the chunk of frozen mac and cheese in a frying pan and fry them up!  the cheese browns and crisps.  the marcoroni takes on a completely unique texture.  it's simply and incredible little treat.  

this is basically the only leftover that i look foward to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Live by the Motto: "Use Tomorrow's Leftovers Today". Plan, plan, plan.

Blessed with plenty of freezer(s) space. Our house, bought two and one half years ago has a huge side-by-side Freez/fridge, plus full size 18' upright freezer in basement, and, believe this, I brought a reach-in chest freezer (220V) with me from Germany. Had plug installed. Everything is fine.

Now, here is what goes in or is in:

PARMIGIANO/REGGIANO, GRANA, PECORINO, all in 1/2 pound chunks, wrapped in "real" cheese paper (I "obtained" in Germany) and Zip-Locks. Tupperware pints and half-pints of Beef, Veal, Pork and Chicken stock. Two containers Mole Sauce, I made four months ago, two dozen individual boneless/skinless Chicken Breasts I bought at $1.15 a pound six months ago. A whole fresh Ham (22Lbs), skinned, boned, seasoned and tied by myself. The price was right ($ 0.78lb). Made a huge pan Lasagna, serves 12, we are only three, so that's "squared-out" and indiv. frozen. Some rendered Goosefat from Christmas. Assorted Dinner Rolls and a lot more space left over. Not to mention Stews, Ragouts and Gulyas. Left-overs from meals usually get used up quickly. If not, freezer! But all left-overs usually become something brand new (11 year olds do not like left-overs!) When it's new, she does not know. Luckyly I have control, Karen home-schools Katherine - I cook. But, my motto is "Use Tomorrow's Left-Overs Today", a former boss of mine instilled this into me, the saying is his. I adhere to it.

Peter
Link to comment
Share on other sites

a left over that i grew up with and grew up loving is macoroni and cheese.  you can freeze the leftovers pretty much forever.  when you're ready to eat them, put the chunk of frozen mac and cheese in a frying pan and fry them up!  the cheese browns and crisps.  the marcoroni takes on a completely unique texture.  it's simply and incredible little treat.  

this is basically the only leftover that i look foward to.

This is also my husband's favorite leftover.  He loves any kind of left over macaroni or penne dish fried in a pan the next day, especially if it gets a little crispy & browned.  He tops it with grated parmesan and a dash of maggi.  He might enjoy it this way even better than the original preparation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He might enjoy it this way even better than the original preparation.

i definitely enjoy the fried mac and cheese better than the original.  your husband and i have quite a bit in common.  he must be one helluva fellow, not to mention good looking, witty, and charming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I look at leftovers as a great excuse to make frittatas. The other night I had some yummy baked tomatoes & onions and some roasted potatoes left over from the night before, so I just threw them in an ovenproof skillet, beat up some eggs, poured over and cooked a little then threw it in the oven. It was delicious.

The leftover pork loin from that same night became an awesome giant pork sandwich the next night.

Leftovers - good leftovers, that is, are your best friend for quick weeknight cooking.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the very quick reply, I appreciate it.

Do you find yourself planning your grocery shopping so you have "extra" to turn into leftovers? Do you remember what got you onto the frittata track? Did you learn this from a family member or friend? Did you see it on tv or read in a book? Tell me more!

All the best,

Bill

Bill Daley

Chicago Tribune

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I plan ahead for leftovers. There's only two of us so a pork loin cooked on a Sunday is made with leftovers in mind...I'm not sure where I got the frittata idea - probably on Food TV or something. I also like to make a lot of roasted vegetables so I'll have them left over for pizza, frittatas, etc. Like most people I like to make stuff on the weekends that we will use up during the upcoming week. Sometimes I'll make an extra steak so we can have steak sandwiches or steak and eggs. I also cook enormous amounts of pasta at once. And my Crockpot has become a favorite to make cheap chuck roasts into "Italian Beef" (since you're in Chicago I had to use quotes on that one) for sandwiches and a Mexican type thing for tacos or burritos.

Hmmm. Looks like we eat a lot of sandwiches, doesn't it? I don't usually get home from work until 7:00 and the last thing I feel like doing is cooking something from scratch. I love to cook and consider it my hobby but there are some nights when...well, you know.

When I was little my mom always got excited when we got to start a "new meat."

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bill. I always thought Thanksgiving was the great American tribute to the love of leftovers. Why would anyone sit around for hours bickering about politics with family unless it was to produce leftovers. Actually, I am not a fan of turkey and it's been scores of years since one has crossed my door. I always feel we've planned a dinner well when there's no more food left when the guests leave. It's never occurred to me, until now, that any of them might even still be hungry.

We do cook more than we need for one meal when it's just the two of us and we do it on purpose. A whole roast chicken will become the basis of one hot meal and part of one or two more hot or cold meals as well as snacks and sandwiches. It will be served hot as hash, stuffing, (vegetables, pasta, etc.) in sauce, (tettrazini, curry, etc.) etc. With pot roast, you get to do all those things, but you also get to throw new elements in the pot and add new seasonings to get a new pot roast. Steak, properly cooked rare, doesn't want to be reheated so it's salads and sandwiches for the most part. We're omnivores and cook more vegetables than we can eat at one time. Asparagus that's not been over cooked can be quickly cooled in ice water and served with a vinaigrette or even sauteed quickly and served hot the next day. Ratatouille is at least as good the second day cold with the addition of some very good olive oil and lemon juice. If we're really looking to save time, skip the ratatouille and just under cook up a batch of small zucchinni and yellow squash with onions and go the oil and lemon jouice route later in the week. Corn gets cooked as soon as we can get it to a pot of boiling water. Fritters have been the leftover route traditionally, but last week we mixed the cold kernals with some diced peeled and seeded tomatoes for a quick appetizer salad. Perhaps the trick is not to look at leftovers as leftovers, but to look at the first meal as stealing half cooked ingredients from the real meal to come.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bux, nice to hear from you! I think you're hitting it on the head when you talk about looking at leftovers not as leftovers but part of an on-going dinner plan. Have you always been this way? Or did so particular incident, a book, a tv show, whatever set you on this frugal way? And is it a difficult mindset to get into???

Bill

Bill Daley

Chicago Tribune

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep a supply of refrigerated pizza dough around. When I make dough, usually about once a week as my boys occasionally do something for themselves (rarely, but it does happen) , I make enough to have some in the fridge. Leftover meat and vegetables often end up in some calzone like dish or another. A smoked brisket calzone with lots of cheese, onion, and bellpepper is a fine place to unload the tupperware.

As I live in South Louisiana much of what I have leftover consists of seafood that won't keep very well. Leftover boiled shrimp or crawfish often end up in gumbo, or in shrimp or crawfish salad (which will keep much longe than just the shellfish alone-it must be the acid in the salad from the lemon juice in the mayo). Fried redfish or trout can be reheated and sauced with something like oyster stew or shrimp ettoufee for a second life. Leftover gumbo becomes, well, leftover gumbo. The stuff freezes great and is really better the second time around anyway-the same goes for red beans. Grilled fish always ends up in a salad of some sort or maybe in a sandwich.

Not much goes to waste around here.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess that I learned to love leftovers from my mother, grandmother and great aunt. That means since I was a little kid. We have always had a thing about wasting food, even when money wasn't tight. It was just the way we were raised. And, yes, there was always a leftover plan starting with the Sunday dinner.

When my grown son lived with me for a few years, that was exactly our strategy. Usually, he was on his way home after me. He would call on his cell phone as he neared the grocery and ask if I needed anything. At that point I had had a chance to look in the fridge and decide a strategy for the meal. "Hey... Get some mushrooms."

We had a repertoire that included Thai curries (pre-made paste), salads, fritattas, pasta sauces (red and cream), anything wrapped in tortillas, quesadillas. I can't say where I got the ideas. For instance, I think that several years ago I ate, read about or saw on TV the concept of a fritatta and said... "Hey, that is a great thing to do with leftovers." I saw a lemon cream recipe for pasta sauce on FoodTV once and had some leftover PNW style smoked salmon, added that and some capers to it and a family classic was born. When I found this recipe for posole in Mexico, I had to have it to use leftover smoked brisket or pork butt. I guess I am always in the mode of exploring the possibilities when contemplating a recipe or a technique, from whatever source.

Grown son is now in Chicago. I can't wait to tell him that the Bill Daley is here. :biggrin: Good luck on your article.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was a kid, we'd usually make a meal of leftovers at least once a week. I think it was my mom's favorite meal - everything was already fixed!!! I always plan for leftovers - planovers- when I'm grocery shopping, and I think most people feeding a family do as well. Planovers get your creative juices flowing. Soups, omelets, salads, sandwiches, casseroles... the list could go on for ever.

And besides, we take our lunches to work, so anything extra will be eaten by someone at some time.

Stop Family Violence

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I buy my meat organic, grass fed, free range etc., (which gets expensive) I especially hate to see any of it go to waste. I plan at least two, sometimes three meals out of a piece of meat. e.g., yesterday we grilled a spatchcocked chicken. Since you need to take off the breastbone & backbone, I made chicken broth, some of which we used today for chilaquiles, and some which I will use tomorrow with the giblets for mexican lime soup. Any leftover will be re-boiled or frozen. The rest of the chicken with probably end up as enchiladas tomorrow, since I have about a lb. of tomates verdes in the fridge. (Yes, I seem to be on a mexican food thing this week, probably the hot weather.) When I grill a butterflied leg of lamb, I use the bones to make a lebanese-style white bean & tomato stew. And we have the lamb the next day sliced in pitas with tatziki, like a gyro.

Vegetables are easy to deal with. I tend to go a little crazy at the farmer's market in the summer so I have lots of tricks for using up tomatoes, eggplant, corn and squash. Vegetables and small pieces of cheese are great with eggs or in soup, as many people have already noted, but also in salsas and panini. Since I am also picky about bread and pay too much for it, I like to use that up too. So stale bread gets toasted and added to soups or salads like panzanella. Oh, and I love leftover pasta in a fritatta.

Basically, I think my leftover-using skills developed as a way to reconcile my food snobbery with my tendency for thrift.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We do cook more than we need for one meal when it's just the two of us and we do it on purpose. A whole roast chicken will become the basis of one hot meal and part of one or two more hot or cold meals as well as snacks and sandwiches...

Hello Bill

In my kitchen there are three kinds of leftovers that get rotated through continually:

1) What's leftover from a dish served in its finished state at the table. That includes those stuffed artichoke hearts that were served warm with asparagus spears as an appetizer at the dinner party and then cold with salad vinaigrette as a lunch the next day. This also includes leftover gravy, sauces, and drippings, etc. We save every last drop of everything and have a battery of very small plastic containers for that one tablespoon of this or that that remains here and there, and larger jars for various meat drippings. Nothing goes to waste.

2) leftovers of things in a semi-finished state; pate feullitee, demi-glace, marinades, general mixed spices, staple sauces like mayonaisse or aoli, made in larger quantities when we do make them in the course of preparing a meal, and saved for the next day or frozen (if it freezes) for future use, and

3) base commodities, (that's where Bux's chicken comes in) and vegs in season which will be cooked and then stretched out for use in various forms throughout the week - the asparagus which was bought by the kilo which in addition to being served steamed fresh on Saturday will go without further processing into Sunday's salad, Monday's quiche, into Tuesday's puree, Wednesday's soup, etc. I use the freezer but rarely freeze in quantity because I live in the city and have a very small kitchen.

Leftovers make the cook, in my opinion. I may be different from a lot of people in that I don't buy pre-processed foods (except sausage) or pre-made sauces like mayo or store bought mixes for that matter. If I had to start from ground 0 every single night, our meals would definitely be a lot less interesting (although there is something to be said for simple fresh food!). We go through periods when we receive a lot of dinner and weekend lunch guests, and every single meal served while entertaining invariably contains the remnants of previous meals.

I also make a policy of preparing 2 more servings than the number of guests I'm anticipating, to make up for last minute added friends and small disasters, so we usually always have something leftover. We'll usually serve finger food, then an appetizer, main course, followed by a salad, then pass the cheese plate and serve dessert, so I never offer seconds to guests. :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also make a policy of preparing 2 more servings than the number of guests I'm anticipating, to make up for last minute added friends and small disasters, so we usually always have something leftover. 

Nice touch, Lucy. I do that too. :wink:

It allows for an anticipation of hospitality, which is such a vital part of a wonderful meal's experience, even in the everyday way of things.

To me, if you ignore or abhor leftovers, you are setting about trying to re-create the wheel each day. Life itself is a continuum of follow-ups from one day to the next...we cannot just throw away yesterday (hah! even though sometimes we may want to! :unsure:), so why do it with the food we eat?

Leftovers are to the cook what a previously created paint-color is to the artist...interesting, already custom-prepared to taste, and quick to hand.

What can't you make with them? Salads of meat and vegetables; crepes filled with chicken, seafood, sauces, topped with grated cheeses; hearty or gentle soups from bones, meat, herbs; baked pasta dishes; eggs of any sort baked or poached and topped...as I go on here it really makes me wonder how one ever manages to find time to start cooking from scratch! :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...