Don’t you think ‘Leftovers’ is a rubbish word? Looking at the word ‘leftovers’ as an English teacher, if i was analysing, it I would say it has very negative connotations. The word leftover suggests something that was not wanted or needed, or something discarded; in this context it is effective as it describes something that will probably lurk unloved in the fridge for a few days until it is guiltily, or not so guiltily, put in the rubbish bin. What follows are a series of meals that go forward; that follow on from the previous meal to the next. Often when I buy meat for the weekend I have a vague plan of how each day’s meals are going to use everything up.
At the weekend I slow roasted nearly 2kgs of pork shoulder with the intention of having some pulled pork on Sunday with Italian style mini roast potatoes and very British braised red cabbage; what remained was going to go forward to make a cornucopia of other porky delights. I just love pork in all its various guises. Luckily the rest of the family agree as two kilos of pork is a sizable hunk of meat.
On Saturday night I rubbed the porcine shoulder with a a rub made of a couple tablespoons of sugar, salt and some kind of flavouring. Sometimes paprika; on Sunday I used a mix of garam marsala, ground coriander and ground cumin. I rubbed it all over the meat and let it sit covered in cling film overnight. It was loosely based on Tom Kerridge’s recipe with one or two swapsies for things I didn’t have. It went in the oven wrapped in tin foil with a cup of cider for nearly five hours at around 150°c. Once it was meltingly soft I removed the rind and crisped it up in a hot oven during the last twenty minutes the potatoes were cooking . I’m always hesitant about giving cooking times and temperatures as my oven, like me, is not so young and can be a little erratic most of the time. Alas I didn’t take any photos, by seven thirty my batteries are beginning to run down.
That left us with a fair dod of pork to play with. First up was a pork stir fry with egg fried rice. This was loosely based on a recipe from; ‘The Woks of Life’. It was quick and tasty. As these meal ideas were all based on what’s in my fridge at time there were no recipes to follow. The next meals involved some lots of baking. I tend to get up when Stephen gets up which is at four thirty. By 6am I had a big batch of pizza dough proving away in the kitchen.
This was destined to become enough Chicago style pulled pork pizza for six people. The final quarter or the dough I’d got earmarked for a stromboli, basically a rolled up pizza that is sliced and baked, to snack on. Just because they look pretty I baked them in a cake tin.
There was still oodles of pork left so I made a slow roasted pork ragu just using cooked meat instead of fresh and cooking it until it just about dissolved into the sauce. Some of this became six individual shepherds pies.
There was still some ragu to go forward and I wasn’t in a pasta mood; the weather had once again become cold, windy and frosty and there was a mountain of potatoes that needed to be dealt with soon. Ermm what to do? After a little, not a lot of thought I hit on the idea of making a pie. This was tasty but not photogenic as it sprang the odd leak. Therefore; on Tuesday night, using Delia’s quick flaky pastry, I made a pie. This involved no layering just grating a lot of frozen butter into the flour, mixing it into a dough. Once the chilled dough had been rolled out I used the pork ragu as a filling, adding some roasted root veg for a contrasting texture. I made a little too much pastry, the little plait in the photo is a cheese, onion and bacon one. A yummy lunch for Joseph and I. Another lunch was a banh mi each, shredded pork with carrots, onions and cucumber lightly picked in sushi marinade. So quick, so easy and so tasty.
Is it my imagination, or has cooking using leftovers become more popular? I’ve got at least four books whose main focus are using up what remains to go forward to make different meals.
My mum probably wouldn’t buy such hefty hunks of meat as I do but I suppose what and how we cook has changed. I don’t think either of my onion and tomato avoiding brothers would have been delighted by a bowl of pasta and ragu; it is strange to think that certainly in the 1960s pasta was virtually unheard of in rural Britain. Monday was often cottage or shepherds pie or maybe a plate of food reheated over a pan of simmering water. I have some of Mum’s old cookery books, an ancient one has a section called Rechauffe which features such delights as jellied chicken, chicken mould , croquettes or blanketing meat in a thick sauce none of which really appeals. Nothing got wasted but there certainly wasn’t the variety in our meals that we now expect as a matter of course.
What I’d like to hear a lot more about is how other people use the food that goes forward. Food shouldn’t and need not be wasted with a little bit of thought and forward planning . Using apps like Yummly it is simple to see meal ideas that could be adapted to suit what is skulking in the larder. If only, I’d love a proper larder. So OK it’s the fridge, the veg rack, freezer and various cupboards really. Mum had a larder that had jars of wonderful pickles and preserves in. What wasn’t so hunky dory was the lack of fridge though. Oh the good old days!