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So What Have You Made From Leftovers That Was As Good If Not Better Than The Original Dish?

So last night my sweet husband treated me to his famous Pork Verde, nice little chunks of perfectly cooked pork in savory green sauce. It was as tasty as ever and we even munched on the leftover pork and tortillas for lunch....come dinner time, (I was so feeling lazy) the pork and green sauce was gone...so what to have for dinner without having to go out?

I hit the kitchen, took a little juice glass and cut the tortillas in small rounds then deep fried them...while they were crisping up I mixed salt, pepper and the zest from the leftover limes together and sprinkled that over the warm chips, Yum...but what else? Looked in the fridge...two tablespoons of butter got tossed in a pan to melt, then it was sprinkled with two tablespoons of flour....oh yeah, a roux. Grated some fantastic Comte and heated up a cup of milk with 1/2 cup of chicken stock and slowly added that to the roux while I fried up more chips. Smashed up 3 cloves of garlic and tossed that in with the sauce and let it simmer for a bit before adding the Comte cheese and a good squirt of chili sauce.....best "Nachos" we have ever had! So Hounds what have you made from leftovers that was as good....if not better than the dish that lent its parts?

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  1. This has occurred to me frequently in the last month or so, but it's so close to bedtime I can't think of why off the top of my head!

    The one thing I can think of is a guy I lived with who's mother made roast beef frequently. I'm not fond of big hunks of roast beef, but the leftovers made fantastic French Dip.

    She also made the only homemade Mac & Cheese I've ever had, complete with large chunks of sausage.

    I'll think of other 'recycled' dishes later. :)

    1. Nothing fancy, but some improvised baked bean soup out of the remainders of a batch we'd eaten two days in a row. This was one of the last cold days last Spring, so I don't remember exactly what I did, but the soup was delicious, complex, hearty. (Original dish a stereotypical Boston baked bean recipe.) I pureed half of the beans, added water, then put in the rest of the beans, whole. I do recall tossing in some cognac, some diced carrots...can't remember exactly what else, but I know there were some more additions. We love soups and we love baked beans (New Englanders)...and that stuff was great. I was foolish not to have written down what I did. Hubby's asking me to make it again, now that winter's on our doorstep.

      Those "nachos" sound like good cold weather food, too!

      1. 2 minutes ago I scarfed down some homemade Turkey tostadas....

        > Heat a griddle or crepe pan
        > Sprinkle Leftover Dark Meat Turkey - Shredded around a tortilla (even better if you can find Tortillas Raspadas... these are the ultra thin tortillas designed for tostada making)
        > Cover the turkey with a spoonfuls of garlicky Arbol Chile salsa or cheat like me and use bottled Tuong Ot Toi Vietnamese sauce...
        > Place a slice of Havarati, Monterrey Jack or Chihuahua cheese on top of the seasoned Turkey
        > Cook on one side over Medium - Medium Hot fire (or over a smokey grill) until the cheese melts & the tortilla turns a pleasant, rustic golden brown

        Even people who go through the motions with Thanksgiving turkey would have a hard to not eating more of these.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Thanks for this, EN! You just gave me the recipe for this Thursday's dinner using last Sunday's left over braised turkey legs..... I was going to make open faced hot turkey sandwiches. This is infinitely better.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              We made this recipe according to EN's instructions tonight and they were delicious!
              I was afraid there would not be enough turkey to shred so I sautéed some sliced onions, garlic and jalapeño in EVOO, threw in some minced turkey, let that brown, then tossed in the shredded turkey meat.... added some home made tacos spice seasoning and let that cook till the meat was no longer pink. After that we followed EN's directions using a cast iron skillet. . We used bottled Green Mountain Gringo medium hot salsa and the harvati cheese

              Wow... we really loved this. Served these with a tossed green salad a la Rick Bayless with a chipotle dressing that was a great accompaniment.

              Many thanks EN. You nailed it once again.....we will certainly be making & enjoying these again and again.

        2. No question: fried rice. You have to use cold rice to make the dish in the first place, and there's hardly any better use for leftover white rice.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nickblesch

            Oh totally. this has got to be the winner.

            1. re: nickblesch

              While steamed rice is good, fried rice taste better. In fact we had turkey fried rice last night. The bird is almost gone!!!

              1. re: nickblesch

                Nickblesch, please describe how you make your fried rice!

                1. re: nickblesch

                  100% in agreement, fried rice is one of the best leftovers! Last night I got to try Kimchi Bokkeumbap for the first time and it was the best fried rice I've ever had. The waitress cooked it up at our table with all the leftovers from our dinner. I want to back again tonight!

                2. Kimchi jjigae with pork belly, hands down.

                  1. The morning after Thanksgiving I put some leftover stuffing in a cask iron pan and fired it until there were crispy bits. Slid the stuffing onto a plate then topped it with an over easy egg. The stuffing acted like very good hash and the combination was sooo good.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Fiona

                      My mom always made turkey hash from the leftover stuffing, adding chopped turkey and enough gravy to make it moist but not sloppy. Mrs. O is not particularly fond of that, preferring the components to remain separate, so I just make a small batch of my own. For lunch yesterday I did what Fiona did, with my hash and an egg, and yes, it was superb. Very comforting and delicious.

                      Hash in our house was always a way of using leftovers. Turkey or chicken hash was made as described above, while roast beef hash was pot roast leftovers, with the meat ground in the chopper, the potatoes and other vegetables chopped more coarsely, and the whole bound with gravy, and often baked topped with biscuits. As mom's pot roast tended to be dry and a bit tough, the hash was almost always a major improvement.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        ooooooo. turkey hash..... slurp, drool

                    2. Chowhound's turkey mulligatawny soup that I got from recipe of the day. It was perfectly spicy (love the garam masala) and not too heavy after a 4 day "eat fest". I used lite coconut milk. Here's the link: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11126

                      1. I often find myself roasting chicken, partially for the economy of it, partially because I like to make my own stocks. But after weeks of eating chicken, one gets bored, that is until one decides to shred the meat from the leftovers and use them for a spicy and punchy gumbo that puts boring chicken quarters to shame.

                        1. Made some "monastery lentils" as a side dish (recipezaar.com). They were yummy, but had lots left. Pureed half of them, added a few cups of chicken stock and the un-pureed lentils and garnished w/ a dollop of sour cream (yogurt or creme fraiche would be great, too) and, voila, yummy lentil soup. Adam

                          1. To keep with the turkey theme,

                            Turkey pulled off the bone, reheated in a bit of stock with onions, cumin, and peppers , wrapped in tortillas and smothered in homemade enchilada sauce, baked...yum.

                            AND leftover sage dressing(baked out of the bird) served as the base for raclette instead of boiled potatoes.. OHMI!!!!

                            1. I love playing with whatever braised meat I have left. I can usually get three meals out of a good-sized cut, and my favorite is when I shred the meat and throw it with some of whatever the braising liquid was into some sauteed onions, garlic, greens, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broth, wine - really whatever I have in the fridge - and toss it with pasta. Top with a dollop of ricotta and it's always a wonderful rustic pasta.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: katecm

                                I love doing this also. Sometimes I'll also mix in some cannellini beans too. Great w/ pappardelle or giant rigatoni.

                              2. Based on a strong craving for some mexican food, I made some smoked turkey enchiladas with a buttermilk-guajillo sauce. I would say 80% of the ingredients came from leftover raw materials for the original meal and they were fabulous.

                                1. Any roasted bird is better the next day, in pot pie form. The best one I ever made was a chicken, asparagus, and mushroom pie with gravy made from chicken drippings and white wine. It HAS to have a bottom crust!

                                  I agree with the fried rice suggestion above. I make it all the time but the best one I ever made had leftover: hot chili shrimp, beef and pepper, Chinese barbecued pork, teriyaki chicken, and various sauteed greens. I have never made its equal.

                                  1. When I was making broth on TG Day I pulled some frozen chicken bits - unlabelled, of course! - out of the freezer and threw them in the pot to sorta help out. It turned out to be four thighs that I'd completely forgotten about, so I left them in the pot just long enough to cook them and then bagged them back up. Well, that was a week ago, and I needed to use them or pitch them, and I needed to re-boil the leftover broth anyway. So I got a bag of sliced mushrooms from Trader Joe's and sautéed them, well-seasoned with S&P and cayenne, then combined those with the cut-up meat from the thighs. Cut up half an onion that also needed to be used, cooked that gently in olive oil and butter until transparent, then stirred in the meat mixture and a heaping tablespoon of flour. Stirred that around until everything was hot, then stirred in a cup of the hot broth and a quarter-cup of half-and-half (another TG relic). There was half a bag of egg noodles up in the cupboard, so I cooked those and combined them with all of the foregoing. Heated up the last of the TG succotash as an accompaniment. Mrs. O came in after work and saw what was on the hot tray, and said, "Wow, where did all THIS come from?" I love it when that happens...

                                    1. A perfect storm of variables resulted in the first seriously overcooked turkey of the dozens in my resume. Good stuffing and stock though. Used some of the stock for curried squash and apple soup. I read over some croquette recipes, then winged it: made a thick bechamel and put it into the processor, adding onion sauteed with some garam masala, stuffing, turkey, chicken base (Better Than Bouillon brand), egg. Chilled this mix a while, then dipped flat patties in flour, egg, and panko before pan-frying in about 1/4 inch of oil. While the mixture was chilling, I made a bechamel, adding onion and some gravy to create a sauce to go on top. Enjoyed these way more than even perfectly-roasted turkey.

                                      1. Turkey Tettrazzini, a midwestern childhood favorite. Yum!

                                        1. When I buy frsh fish filets for dinner, I buy a large extra filet. Just before I bring our finished fish to the dinner table, i toss the extra piece in cornflour and set it to saute slowly while we eat. Flip it, and turn off the flame. By the time i'm cleaning up, the fish is done. It cools and goes into the fridge for next day's rockfish Po Boys. Can't be beat.