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I. Hate. Leftovers!

Nothing tastes as good reheated (except stews and braises, which should be made the day before--these are not leftovers). And I certainly understand economy, so I try to calculate portions correctly. And I have an expert garbage disposal known as 'A Dog' (who doesn't seem to mind leftovers as all). So, can any Hounds describe dishes which actually taste better made with leftovers? Also, feel free to flame me!

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  1. Well, chili, stews and the wide majority of soups are better the day after they're cooked, IMHO. I would also submit that a cold meatloaf sandwich, the day after its cooked, is far superior to the hot, fresh-made variety.

    OTOH, I am actually a fan of leftovers. I'll agree that most dishes are best when they are fresh, but I enjoy almost all leftovers, regardless of whether I warm them or not. Most cold meat leftovers I prefer to make into a sandwich - I'm thinking chicken, turkey, ham, steak and pork. Chinese-American food, especially the stir-fries and noodle dishes, don't lose a lot overnight. Fried rice can only really be made with previously cooked and chilled rice. I think things like pizza, chicken wings, garlic bread, some hoagies that were originally baked, things like stuffed peppers and virtually all soupy things are better reheated, I think.

    I do not particularly like most seafood or potato leftovers. Something just gets lost.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MonMauler

      I love leftovers! Cold fried chicken is a special treat for me. Especially with overly greasy versions. They are much improved by a day in the fridge.

      Cold pizza - awesome. Leftover lo-mein? It's like a big hug for breakfast. And my favorite is eating Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and green bean casserole for days after the big day. This last T-day was quite sad as we went to a friend's place and while there was a small tupperware container sent home with us, I was unable to gorge myself on leftovers for a week afterwards. Just didn't feel like Thanksgiving. :o(

      1. re: soypower

        Cold, left-over fried chicken is good, ill give you that, but instill don't think it beats fresh, well-fried chicken.

        T-day style turkey you're absolutely right about, though. I think I enjoy left-over turkey sandwiches more than T-day dinner. The day after ill throw som turkey and left-over coleslaw between a couple slices of wheat bread, and it's amazing. The next day ill do an open-faced turkey sandwich smothered in gravy. After that ill eat turkey sandwiches with mayo or mustard for lunch until I either run out of turkey or the meat goes bad. Left-over T-day turkey is the best thing about T-day dinner, IMHO.

        1. re: soypower

          Glad to hear someone else out there feels the same way about Thanksgiving as I do. The operative phrase being "gorge myself on leftovers for a week afterwards". I couldn't have said it better myself.

          1. re: 1POINT21GW

            Hear, hear! In fact, I love Thanksgiving food and the leftovers so much that I go to town with full spread dinner many times throughout the year - next is in less than a week for my birthday/staycation.

          2. re: soypower

            +1 cold lo mein and Thanksgiving leftovers

          3. re: MonMauler

            In general - I am a major leftover lover - however, I also live alone and the whole "cooking for one" calculation is far more time consuming than just enjoying leftovers.

            However, I have found that Chinese-American food (both homemade and takeout), as long as it's not crispy fried, do very well next day. Something about the sauces on a stirfry sitting over night in the fridge work really well for me. I also have to admit that cold left over Indian food is my prefered version of "cold pizza".

            I also think that various sauces for pasta benefit from sitting. So what I often do is make a full batch of the sauce and then just single servings of pasta. So the sauce remains a "leftover", but then I always have freshly cooked pasta the night I want to eat the dish.

            1. re: MonMauler

              I love leftover, but I have to disagree about stir-fries. I'll eat it the next day, for sure. But they always suffer texturally (Google is telling me this isn't a word) by sitting in the fridge overnight.

              I want to be able to have stir-fry for lunch at work, but sometimes they just end up so soggy, even when I don't have liquid in with the veg.

            2. I wonder whether the term "leftover" pertains to foods which are cooked in quantity, and then portioned for future uses? For example, when I slow-roast pork shoulder, for a party, I plan to make about 10-20% extra; portion, wrap and freeze. Later on, when I want some pork for hash or a noodle soup... there it is! ready and waiting for me. Ditto on cooked chicken thighs, ready for a quick stir with greens. Or... how about extra portions of braised greens and bacon... just ready for tomorrow's poached eggs?
              Hash is definitely a dish which I make using already cooked/roasted meats, and par-boiled potatoes. I happen to like the texture.
              And pre-cooked potatoes make the crispy sort of fries that I like. But YMMV.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KarenDW

                True - there is a subtle yet important difference between leftovers and planned-overs. I have always been a big planned-over person, making huge batches of spaghetti and chicken when I was in college. Reheating in a microwave was quick, easy, cheap, and healthy compared to eating out. Now I make huge batches of lasagna, hamburger hotdishes, and other things that I plan to eat for several meals afterward.

                It's not hard to eat leftovers/planned-overs when you intended to do so in the first place!

              2. leftover roast chicken is wonderful.

                9 Replies
                1. re: magiesmom

                  Turkey too! I always buy the biggest one they have, even though it's just the two of us( well and the three cats, can't forget them) and we will have sandwiches, and hot with gravy, for days and day after.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    The skin is not though. Eat poultry skin on the first night or not at all.

                    1. re: melpy

                      Agreed. Roast chicken skin is best crispy, not mushy. Eat right away or toss.

                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                        I feel the same about the chicken wings.

                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                          Never toss! I love chicken skin when it's recrisped in a frying pan - it's not quite as good as fresh, but it's better than throwing away the crispy goodness!

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            Actually my Chow friend Veggo does that with duck skin and makes hash.

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              I never thought about recrisping the skin. But I buy the roasted chicken from my local supermarket (usually a weeknight when I don't have time/feel like cooking) and the bottom sits in the juices that drip from the bird. That skin is usually a bit wet, so I'm not sure if recrisping would work. I would have to pull the skin off and try to dry it out. It's worth a try. Thanks for the good idea!

                            2. re: alwayshungrygal

                              There is no such thing as leftover chicken skin! At least, not at my house.

                        2. Hash: I had leftover roast beef with carrots and potatoes. I chop them up, add onion, lots of pepper, fry it with a bit of the gravy (but let the moisture evaporate), until it has a crust.
                          Yes, I love it with catsup.

                          1. If you mean just re-heating the same meal or component of a meal then yes, that can be pretty dismal. The trick is to re-purpose the food. For example last night's dinner for us was half a stuffed/rolled/roasted pork loin that I cut into bite sized pieces. After sweating a soffritto I added leftover tomato sauce, a cup of wine, basil, S & P and the meat. This simmered for about 20 minutes and was delicious with a slice of crusty bread and a green salad. Leftover Chinese takeout? Perfect for fried rice made with leftover steamed rice. Re-purposing is the way to go... IMO. Of course the meatloaf sandwich and other roasted meat sandwiches and salads are terrific in their own right.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              Don't forget repurposing left overs with various egg preparations to make for frittatas, omelette, scrambles, etc.

                              1. re: cresyd

                                Oh yes, I agree with all those. I even use leftover macaroni, in any shape and with any sauce, to create a baked pasta dish that uses beaten and seasoned eggs and a topping of grated cheese that will melt.