by Tara Davis
By a very long shot, the most common question I am asked as a chef is, “What is your favorite dish to cook?” While my typical answer (soups and sauces) is not dishonest, it isn’t the whole truth. In truth, my favorite thing to cook is leftovers. Yes, you read that correctly, but may be misinterpreting it.
Though I am not judging anyone’s preference for reheating or less effort with day after goods, my joy derives from the inspiration and quandary of reinventing their components. I love the refrigerated possibilities before me, delving into the creation of so many somethings from other somethings.
What better time of year to take advantage of leftovers than now? Reheat all you like, but if you dare, I have some suggestions for the holdings of your own fridge in the coming days.
Sauced stacks – mix 2 cups dressing with 1 egg. Form into 2 inch diameter, 1/2 inch thick patties. Melt 1 tsp butter in a pan over medium high heat. Brown patties on both sides. Heat gravy, turkey and cranberry sauce. Layer gravy, patties, shredded Turkey and cranberry sauce twice for each stack. Serve immediately.
Green bean bundles – for each bundle, wrap 4-5 leftover green beans in 1/4 inch wide serrano ham or prosciutto pieces. Place seam side down in a casserole dish. Top with a mixture of 1 tsp each thyme, garlic and lemon juice, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, to warm through.
Sweet potato rolls- mix 2 cups leftover sweet potatoes with 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 Tbsp garlic, 2 Tbsp diced green onion, salt and pepper to taste. Spread over whole wheat tortillas. Warm, flat on a sheet tray, in a 350 degree oven 5 minutes, roll and serve warm.
Turkey dumpling soup – small dice 2 cups each onions, celery, carrots and turkey. Brown 4 cups total vegetables in 2 Tbsp vegetable oil until tender. Add 2 Tbsp garlic, 3 large sprigs thyme and one sprig rosemary and cook 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock. Season to taste and simmer 15 minutes. Mix turkey with the rest of the vegetables, 1 tsp dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Unroll 1 small tube of uncooked dinner rolls and separate. Place 1 tsp mixture in the center of each roll and pinch together. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Place 3 dumplings in each bowl, spoon broth around in to serve.
Pecan pie cookies – crush up 2 slices pecan pie. Mix with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1 egg and a generous pinch of salt. Place heaping spoons full of the mixture on a buttered sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees 5-10 minutes, until lightly golden.
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