Thinking outside the casserole
November 12, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

What recipes are designed for leftovers? I'm hoping to gain cultural insight through those home cooking recipes like Chilaquiles or Panzanella, which were invented to use up leftovers.

I always think it is interesting to find homologous recipes/dishes across cooking traditions, and Chilaquiles and Panzanella are one example. Leftover and stale tortillas/bread are given a new life with a highly flavored oily dressing. Of course the Mexican Chilaquiles are flavored with chilies, and the Italian Panzanella uses olive oil and basil, but it is a very similar idea. Both were inspired by a common dilemma, leftovers, and then expressed with the flavors common to each culture.

I expect there are recipes like this from all over the world. What are some of them?

For example, I know that I personally might not have lots of left over lamb organs in my American kitchen, but if your family does and makes a great __?__ with them, I wanna hear about it.
posted by fontophilic to Food & Drink (49 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Tuscans have ribollita.
posted by mhum at 8:51 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Picadillo is a Cuban beef hash recipe that is served on its own. The leftovers are frequently baked into a pie (tambor de picadillo) using plantains as well.
posted by jquinby at 8:52 AM on November 12, 2010

I was pleased to find that the Enchillada recipe in the Joy of Cooking was specifically for using up leftover chicken...which was *exactly* what I was trying to do!
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:54 AM on November 12, 2010

I like cross-cultural problem-solving like this a lot (like "starchy vehicle for soppy sauce", "palate cleanser", "way to stretch a tiny piece of meat when you're broke", etc.), but these answers aren't really that, more just pragmatic answers about dishes that use leftovers, sorry...

Cold rice and pasta salads. Baked goods involving already cooked and mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes (biscuits, cake, muffins, cookies like poor man's panellets). Hash. French toast and bread pudding. Yorkshire pudding made with beef drippings. Stocks and schmaltz, often. Pasta sauces and frittatas that just use whatever's looking a little forlorn in the crisper drawer.
posted by ifjuly at 8:55 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: Fried Risotto balls. Take day old left over risotto, roll into about a 2" diameter ball, roll in bread crumbs and fry. Optionally stick a little bit of mozzarella cheese in the middle. Cover with tomato sauce. Can also replace fried risotto balls with pan fried left over polenta cakes.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bubble and squeak.
posted by sea change at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2010

Oh, and meatballs, meatloaves involving crumbs made with stale bread.
posted by ifjuly at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2010

stale bread becomes panzanella, various pappas/soups, stuffing, bread pudding, fattoush.

fried rice can only be made with day-old rice. Risotto becomes arancini.

very Anglo: hash and bubble and squeak are both intended to use up bits of Sunday roast and potatoes.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:57 AM on November 12, 2010

Frittatas are my go-to fridge cleaner.
posted by anti social order at 8:57 AM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

That was my dad's go-to dish when he had to make a meal. Grab stuff out of the fridge, stir with rice, add some chilli sauce and a fried egg, dunzo.
posted by like_neon at 8:59 AM on November 12, 2010

My mom is a super (middle class white Midwestern American for your demographic interests) leftover user. Probably thing she gets the most use out of is ham. She'll roast a ham and we'll have roast ham for a couple of days with assorted sides. She'll slice off a hamsteak or two, cube it, and freeze it for the next time she makes yang chow. Once we've eaten all the easy-to-eat slices of ham, she'll go and painstakingly remove all the remaining meat (and then all the fat from the remaining meat), use the bone to make a stock and then use the meat to make a white bean and ham soup (which we'll then eat for another several days until we're so thoroughly sick of ham that we're all begging please for the love of god mom never make ham again).
posted by phunniemee at 9:01 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: Bread pudding and French toast are both European traditions to extend the use of bread after it's become stale.
posted by Miko at 9:01 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: From Sweden: Pyttipanna
posted by Grither at 9:01 AM on November 12, 2010

French toast, bread pudding (sweet or savory), and strata are all great ways to use up old bread.

Savory bread pudding is the one I make most often - not a family tradition for me, just my favorite. I always have milk and eggs on hand so I just toss them together with old bread, cheese if I've got it, and whatever leftover veggies are in the fridge.
posted by mskyle at 9:02 AM on November 12, 2010

In most delis I've worked in Antipasto was decidedly a salad for meat ends, and the vinegar would cover up the "turning" taste.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:03 AM on November 12, 2010

Bread Pudding, for starters...

Growing up, my Italian mama would throw pretty much anything in a lasagna (including stale bread in place of the pasta). The only thing that stayed the same was the béchamel.
posted by Siena at 9:03 AM on November 12, 2010

In Denmark around Christmas time, it's common to eat a lot of risengrød (rice porridge). Leftover risengrød gets turned into klatkager or ris a la mande (dessert).
posted by coraline at 9:04 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: I grew up eating pyttipanna whenever my mom needed to clear up some space in the fridge. Yum. (The Wikipedia page also has a list of similar leftover-based dishes from other countries. )
posted by sively at 9:06 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: Shephard's pie and cottage pie in their original forms. Congee is often made with rice from the night before.
posted by Ahab at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2010

Oh, that reminds--congee of course. Made with the burnt bits from last night's rice bowl.
posted by ifjuly at 9:13 AM on November 12, 2010

I do Frittatas and also the ham -- ham dish -- ham soup things mentioned above.

There's also Turkey Apple Casserole which is nice for leftover Thanksgiving turkey and seasonally-ready apples!

I think chicken soup also fits the bill ... I have a roast chicken for dinner, use the bones to make stock, toss in the leftover meat with whatever veggies I have around the house for chicken soup.

I also try to plan my side dishes for strategic leftovers -- when I make ham I always make mashed potatoes, which I then use to thicken the ham soup a few days later. Extra cranberry sauce with turkey then becomes the spread for turkey sandwich leftovers. Peas with ham go in my ham stir fry the next day. Etc.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:15 AM on November 12, 2010

In a sense all preserved foods are a solution to this problem. The difference is that preserved foods solve the problem of an excess of fresh food whereas the dishes used as examples so far address the problem of an excess of cooked food.

Anyway, stocks and soups of many kinds use leftovers, whether animal (e.g., a bird carcass) or vegetable (e.g., leftover peas for pea soup). There are any number of dishes that call for bacon grease, schmaltz, or other leftover fats. Croutons are a good way to use stale bread. There are recipes that call for sour milk, though most people today would use (fresh) buttermilk or fake it by adding some vinegar or other acid.

A bit of a variation on the theme: There are recipes for using the spent grain from beermaking to make bread.
posted by jedicus at 9:16 AM on November 12, 2010

I just made a Jalfrezi curry and wikipedia says it's often made with leftover meat. No idea if that's true though.
posted by cabingirl at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2010

I would think that 'filled' things such as ravioli, pierogi, and even pot-stickers fall into this category. At least they started out that way historically; being filled with whatever cooked meats, veggies, cheese, etc. are hanging around going to waste.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:20 AM on November 12, 2010

Anything involving bread crumbs or pieces, including croutons, french toast, gazpacho, etc.

A lot of soups would count, too. Not just minestrone, but any that use stock (which is made from leftover bits), or that use leftover meat (eg ham, bacon, etc) for flavoring.

Soups are also traditionally great ways to use up ingredients (vegetables especially) that are at the end of their lives -- you may not want to snack on that floppy and wilted carrot, but it will taste great in a soup. That's not "leftovers" in the sense of reusing already cooked food, but it is definitely an overlapping concept.

If you think about it, a lot of traditional cooking follows a rhythm. Day one: fresh food (eg new baked bread, roasted chicken). Day two: slightly less fresh but mostly unchanged food (eg chicken sandwiches). Day three: somewhat stale food reused (eg french toast, chicken salad). Day four: definitely stale food reused (eg gazpacho, chicken bones turned into stock). The pattern is the same for rice, pretty much any meat, potatoes, etc.
posted by Forktine at 9:23 AM on November 12, 2010

French toast is pain perdue, meaning lost or forgotten bread.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:26 AM on November 12, 2010

If there's leftover pasta, put in in a fritatta di spaghetti.
posted by aimedwander at 9:32 AM on November 12, 2010

Oh, that reminds me too--the rind from Parmesan being used in soups and then removed is an Italian cucina povera trick too.

Cassoulet was pretty much this sort of thing, too. A way to make all the leftover scrappy bits and bobs into a "and the kitchen sink"-type peasant casserole--really no different in context than your mom's broccoli and canned soup deal (if much tastier :).

Barbecue is not quite this, but similar--the method was a way to tackle being given the toughest least desirable scraps of meat, to make them delicious. Doing wings highly seasoned/sauced used to be like this too; sadly now they're quite the opposite. :b
posted by ifjuly at 9:35 AM on November 12, 2010

I don't know where, but I read that Minestrone was made to use up leftover pasta and vegetables.

I think that chicken salad and deviled ham sandwiches were invented to use up leftovers, but I don't have any proof.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:38 AM on November 12, 2010

Man, keep thinking of more. Chicken salad, of course. Putting leftover ham in things like potato casseroles, mac 'n cheese, etc. Duxelles is a way to use up mushrooms before they go bad, pretty much like the aforementioned crepe/dumpling/burrito/etc. filling mentality.
posted by ifjuly at 9:40 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: Here's a Khmer stir fry - (in my bad transliteration) Pseut Chha Mtayh Krahom - translates as "Mushrooms stir fried with Red Chillies".

The meat ingredient is leftover barbecue chicken from a street stall, which is usually marinated with lemongrass, chilli, black pepper, fish sauce, and maybe a little fresh turmeric before barbecuing.

1 cup fresh oyster or straw mushrooms (I prefer oyster.).
1/2 cup leftover barbecue chicken, shredded
10 small very hot chillies, finely sliced length-ways
2 tablespoons strong chicken stock (use a cube if necessary)
2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons oil for stir frying

Prep the mushrooms. If straw mushrooms, halve. If oyster, tear into pieces.

Heat the oil in a wok until smoking hot.

Add the chillies and chicken and stir fry to sear the chillies.

Add the mushrooms and stir fry very briefly, then add the stock and toss to combine.

Add the sugar, fish sauce and mushroom soy. Stir fry, tossing, until the mushrooms are just cooked.

Remove to a serving dish and serve.

The taste should be hot, salty, smoky, with the spices from the chicken still punchin though.

(I think this might be a first publication in English, but I'm not sure. :)
posted by Ahab at 9:42 AM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, that reminds me too--the rind from Parmesan being used in soups and then removed is an Italian cucina povera trick too.

That in turn reminds me of using the vanilla bean for flavoring vanilla sugar and other things after scraping out the interior.

Oh, and there are recipes for using the marrow from roasts and the like. Basically, after the roast has been consumed, the bones themselves are roasted to soften the marrow and the marrow is extracted and then mixed with herbs and spices and spread on toast.
posted by jedicus at 9:46 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: From Japan: Okonomiyaki:
"Okonomiyaki means fried the way you like it, it is a common way to get rid of lots of sundry leftovers in the fridge - so you can improvise a lot with the ingredients."
posted by iviken at 9:53 AM on November 12, 2010

I make chili (the abomination version that includes beans), which we then use in chili mac and omelets.
posted by LionIndex at 9:59 AM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: NPR recently did a story on Hachis Parmentier, the French version of Shepherd's Pie, which uses left over beef stew.
posted by mmascolino at 10:07 AM on November 12, 2010

Fondue is a good way to get rid of hard cheese and stale bread.
posted by NoraReed at 10:59 AM on November 12, 2010

cabin girl: I was coming in to mention jalfrezi. Wikipedia is right. Jalfrezi is a classic Anglo-Indian dish, originally made by turning the leftovers from a Sunday roast into a curry.
posted by bardophile at 11:00 AM on November 12, 2010

Every Thanksgiving after the turkey has been thoroughly ravaged, my family make a quasi-gumbo stew out of the carcass. We cut off any bits of meat still on the bones and then make a stock out of the rest. We use a light roux*, onions, bell peppers, celery, jalepenos, and garlic. Maybe some sausage if we have it in the fridge. Then we toss in some green onions and fresh parsley at the very end. It's really, really, really good.

* For seafood and chicken gumbos I prefer a dark roux but I like it thin with the turkey.
posted by kryptondog at 11:26 AM on November 12, 2010

In general I think a big chunk of all traditional recipes are either

(a) a way to eat cheap meat (paella is bits of cheap fish and mollusks, coq au vin is a way to eat a rooster, sausage and meat pies are both ways to serve mystery meat);

(b) a way to eat something gone "slightly" bad (lots of spicy recipes); or

(c) a way to preserve fresh food (all cheese, most sausages, jerky, preserves of all kinds).
posted by musofire at 11:36 AM on November 12, 2010

Shipwreck dinner is a Newfoundland way to deal with leftovers - seven layers of cooked/canned veg and leftover meat in a baking dish, with a tin of tomato sauce or tomato soup dumped on top (I've also seen it with mashed potato a la shepherd's pie), and baked in the oven.

This isn't a recipe as such, but my Mother's favourite way to deal with leftovers is similar to Mrs. Incredible's. Of a Saturday, she'll put out all the leftover bits in separate bowls and put them on the table, with bread and butter, some pickles, cheese, condiments and vinaigrettes, and maybe some lettuce. Then everybody takes what they want and makes a meal of it.
posted by LN at 11:52 AM on November 12, 2010

Jambalaya is a stew rather than a casserole, but it works under the same principle -- using up Sunday dinner leftovers.

The strangest deal-with-leftovers meal in my family was hamloaf. Christmas/Easter ham run through the meat grinder then made like meatloaf. Very salty, but pretty edible.
posted by dw at 11:54 AM on November 12, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. My mother makes it every year from the leftover Ham from Easter Dinner and my grandmother did the same. That's basically the only time we ever did have it when I was growing up, after a ham dinner. The recipe I linked seems to be closest to my mom/grandmother's version.

Also, although it was apparently created by a chef at a San Francisco hotel for an opera singer, Turkey Tetrazzinni has become the de facto after Thanksgiving casserole in America.
posted by katyggls at 12:00 PM on November 12, 2010

So, you slaughter the pig on Sunday and have a beautiful pork roast for Sunday dinner. On Monday in the Louisiana you make the leftovers into red beans & rice.

The song is much the same in Mexico where frijol con puerco is traditionally served on Monday.
posted by chrchr at 2:20 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question a while back but I think I like your answers better.
posted by Brodiggitty at 2:40 PM on November 12, 2010

Jambalaya is a stew rather than a casserole

Jambalaya is a rice dish. Though, yes, it's a great way to use up bits and bobs of leftovers, not unlike fried rice or cassoulet, really.

Gumbo is a stew. Is that what you were thinking of?

"Leftovers" from a pork roast don't really make red beans and rice, though traditionally you do put in a ham bone. The meat component in every red beans and rice I've ever had has been sausage.
posted by Sara C. at 6:16 PM on November 12, 2010

I forgot about hash - that's a pretty New Englandy way to use leftover meat.

Yeah, slaughtering a pig generates a few hundred pounds of meat in various cuts - not just a roast and some scraps. If you've got a whole pig, you've got meat for a year, properly cured: ham, roasts, loin, bacon, offal, sausage, suet, etc. - so you don't immediately go into leftovers after your Sunday roast. But definitely, the remains of each cut after eating the prime bits are and were used for leftover dishes so that nothing was wasted. The hambone as soup base has been mentioned and is classic, but even pork scraps are good in posole or enchiladas or, in New England, pork pies. The fat from almost any meat dish, but especially pork, was/is often reused in general cooking like frying, shortening breads and biscuits, flavoring grain dishes, making gravy, etc.
posted by Miko at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2010

Best answer: Bratkartoffeln is a german dish to use up leftover potatoes.
posted by kjs4 at 3:55 AM on November 14, 2010

My family always has leg of lamb for Christmas dinner, and then we make the leftover meat and gravy into lamb curry the next day.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:32 AM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: Tahdig (also spelled tah-deeg) is Persian dish that is a way to use the rice stuck to the bottom of the rice pot. Basically the rice is intentionally allowed to overcook and crisp up, then removed and covered with sauce.
posted by jedicus at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2010

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