Creative Food Leftovers

Part of my cooking that I love is creating fun and enticing dishes from leftovers.

When my SIL visited recently from Boston, we cooked a BIG boneless leg of lamb roast. Sure we could have eaten it all in a few days, but I didn’t want either of us to spend her limited time together with just lamb. So, I chopped up the “leftover” piece and froze the chunks–including the juice.

I pulled out the package the other day and thought to make a stir fry. But somehow, that didn’t feel quite right for this meat. So I dragged out the big Creuset cast iron pot and began sautéing all sorts of veggies. I’ve shown many times now that caramelizing veggies in a heavy pot is what gives a soup or stew its rich, lovely flavor. A good bone broth also helps, but a broth was not available for this endeavor.

I used beef tallow for the fat and started chopping veggies: onion, carrots, little potatoes quartered, cauliflower, orange bell pepper, cabbage, and garlic. I start with the heftier veggies (onion, carrots, potatoes) and add the others as the first veggies start to wilt down really well. The cabbage and garlic goes in last. I threw in salt early on and some dried herbs from a common “oregano” mixture, some fresh rosemary from the pot on the back porch, and fresh mint from my developing herb garden. The mint would add a very quiet sweet tone to my stew. The cooked meat gets added when the mixture in the pot needs cooling as the caramelization is starting to get too dark.

Next, I sprinkled rice flour (you could use flour) on the mixture and stirred it in well before adding some water to cover the mixture. I brought the pot to a hard simmer on the top of the oven and then popped it into the oven (350 degrees and in the middle of the oven) and cooked it for 40 minutes–at which point the smell clearly told me it was happy and ready to come out.

I had a lovely lunch on the porch. And when I remembered I had some very thin and tender asparagus in the refrigerator, I cut it all up and added a handful to my bowl of still-hot stew.

The flavor of my stew was so rich.

Now these leftovers went into a large bowl in the refrigerator–from which I’ll dip out portions I want when needed. I don’t reheat the whole stew as it would get really soft and gummy. The cauliflower, in particular, will disappear into the broth. I like the texture I have here.

My tummy was so happy afterwards, and the fat in this stew carried me well into the evening hours with steady energy.

When I got hungry again, I heated more of my “leftover” stew–a smaller bowl this time as I wasn’t as hungry as I was at noon.

To me, creative leftovers often have more flavor than the first time around. And having the meat frozen until I want it is an “asset” that I like to have.

Again, I can and do vary the stew by adding other ingredients when I reheat some: cream/milk, cheese on top, leftover other cooked veggies, fresh veggies or herbs chopped fine (spring onions, raw sweet onions, bell peppers, parsley, etc.). YOU could add HOT spicy ingredients. Or, some sour cream or yogurt.

You are only limited by your imagination.

Go for it!

Author: louisaenright

I am passionate about whole, nutrient-dense foods, developing local markets, and strengthening communities.

8 thoughts on “Creative Food Leftovers”

  1. Yum! You remind me of my sister, she can come up with a delicious meal just looking in the fridge to see what she’s got left over. Where do you get your beef tallow Louisa? I love when you write about cooking! Jan in MA

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. I kind of never know what people do and don’t like–so it really helps. Beef tallow is readily available in stores like Whole Foods and maybe Trader Joe’s. Fatworks, online, carries a full line of healthy animal fats like beef tallow, pork lard, duck and chicken fat, and so forth. Ghee is now readily available as well–and it takes heat. Sadly, I can’t do pork lard, but I highly recommend it if it is from clean animals. A jar of any of these fats lasts me a long time. And organic, clean, minimally processed coconut oil is also a good choice, but does leave a flavor some don’t like. Also, I save the fats from meats I cook when I can. Also, all these products are on Amazon. Clean meat fats are so good for human health and provide long, steady energy. The seed oils are a problem–avoid all but a high-quality olive oil from a source you know is not cheating by adding cheap seed oils to the product. The biggest seed oils to avoid are canola and soy. Ugh! The history and data on what I’m saying here is very clear. Trashing one product to sub in another is a long-held tactic by industry–and it works for way too many. One big example is the fear-mongering around raw dairy products–which data does not support.

      1. I totally agree, that’s why I love reading about your cooking. We use a good olive oil and avacado oil. I get both at Costco and hope that what I’ve read is true, that they are from good sources. I would love to order the olive oil that you use some day. It’s expensive but I’m sure it’s superior to most olive oils. The other one I buy is California Olive oil. It’s very good. I have used leaf lard for cooking in the past and do use organic unprocessed coconut oil as well. I never buy seed oils but it’s so frustrating that everything seems to contain soy or canola oils! So frustrating. Lately I’ve been more conscious of what we are putting ON our bodies as well as what we put in it. My skin is so dry and reading the labels of even the best moisturizing creams is a scary thing! I’ve actually been using EVOO on my face for years but I am thinking of studying natural skin care a bit. The other interest I have lately is mushrooms. So many subjects to explore! Enjoy your day, Louisa. It’s cloudy and cool here today. Rain coming soon. I get my second cataract done tomorrow, wish me luck! Jan

      2. Thinking of you today with the second cataract. It will go well, I’m sure. And the impact on one’s sight is awesome. Mine, anyway. Avocado oil: Weston Price says it is fine, but I think that would depend on how processed it is. Hard to tell, right? I have no idea what leaf lard is: can you educate me/us? Dry skin: means you aren’t eating enough good fats. Good for you for thinking about what you are putting ON your skin. I, too, have used good coconut oil for my skin–laced with some essential oils like lavender and Frankincense–and what others strike me at the moment I mix a new batch–but not any of the ones that don’t do well on skin exposed to the sun. Like, I think, Lemongrass. Would have to check that out. I do keep a bottle of olive oil from the grocery store–but have my doubts. Basically, I don’t trust grocery store labels. But I mostly use the Organic Roots olive oil, and mostly on salads. Because I use a lot of meat fats, I don’t use much olive oil, which helps justify the cost. AND, the breaking story today is that pork producers have been using Mrna products on their animals since 2018–and maybe beef producers, too–though NONE of these products are approved for use without labeling. Ugh! We can’t catch a break, can we?

      3. The news about Mrna being used already in our meat industry is truly disturbing. I can’t believe they can do that without our knowledge! The avocado oil that I use is by Chosen Foods – the label says that it is expeller pressed and naturally refined. I hope that’s true! And unfortunately, leaf lard is from pork which you’ve said you cannot eat. According to The Spruce, “Leaf lard specifically comes from the soft, visceral fat from around the pig’s kidneys and loin. As such, it has a very delicate, super spreadable consistency at room temperature. This, along with its clean, un-porky flavor, is why leaf lard is considered the highest grade of lard.” It is very nice fat! I really wish I was younger, I’d have a dairy cow and raise our own animals…maybe in my next life! Thanks for the words of encouragement. Be glad when it’s over! Jan

      4. Thanks so much! I envy you the leaf lard. For sure! I grew up with a lot of pork, and I truly miss it. Plus, real pork lard makes the most heavenly pie crusts, etc. Your avocado oil sounds great. I also love avocados, but they are a trigger for me. I would kill for a nice piece of sour dough bread toast, spread with real butter, avocado slices, and topped with a poached egg. Ditto for a tomato and mayo sandwich with, maybe, bits of thin sliced onion, good salt, etc. I’m making myself hungry!

      5. Forgot to say that if your skin is dry, eating more good animal-based fats (including raw dairy and its products) helps so much with dry skin. Vitamin E also helps with skin. I love Marcela’s products as while they are pricy, they are formulated properly and don’t have a lot of iffy ingredients which retard the body’s uptake of needed minerals, etc.

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