If you ever cooked a large hunk of meat, say, pot roast, picnic pork, leg of lamb, the abominable Thanksgiving turkey, or chicken, you probably have experienced the big feast aftermath syndrome. Doesn’t ring the bell? Well… you cook that beautiful cut of meat, you feed everyone until their are full to the brim, and then… and then you pack the leftovers into a large piece of foil or into a glass container, cover snugly and resolutely tell yourself you are going to utilize these leftovers in earnest.
The time goes by, you open the fridge day after day, the wretched container staring you smack in the eye, and you guiltily push it deeper and deeper into the fridge, until one day some months later, you find it all the way in the back, looking unassuming and humble. You open it, wondering what it might have been, and find a nondescript specimen vaguely looking like something from CSI show. An attempt at investigation gets cut short by a few gasps for fresh air, and into the trash can it goes, leaving behind a trail of rancid perfume and lots of guilty feelings…
Anyone? No? Is it just me? Alrighty then… Well, I have done that often enough, so having overcome the denial, anger and shame phases, I can now talk about it on the Internet. Let’s admit it, the large hunk of meat is only truly tasty the first day, unless it’s an honest-to-goodness slow roasted chunk, intended from the start for sandwiches. In my family, it’s practically impossible to feed anyone roast leftovers. I’ve tried. Cooking smaller meat cut to eliminate leftovers altogether results in poor roast, because it’s too small to develop any kind of decent flavor. Freezing tasty bits until later tends to make me forget all about them, so when I find them two years later in a state of severe freezer burn, they are no longer of any use to me.
So what does one to do? Repurpose, I say. Repurpose. Roast, lamb, turkey and chicken leftovers make perfect pie fillers, bake components and pasta sauce meats. Here is what I did with slow cooked leg of lamb leftovers today: I sautéed two medium onions, finely chopped, until nicely golden and lost all their juices. Added my boring meat to the onions and cooked through, until meat resembled pulled barbecue. Added some punchy spices, in my case it was garam masala. Then added some pine nuts for added texture interest, fresh herbs finely chopped.
Then I rolled out two squares of pre-manufactured puff pastry, slapped the meat onto the pastry. Then I folded the pastry in a very neglectful and un-gourmet-like manner. 25 minutes at 425F and dinner was done.
Other ways to repurpose meat leftovers:
What is your favorite way?