Leftovers That Don't Feel Like Leftovers
December 3, 2015 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recipes or techniques that turn fully cooked leftovers into completely different dishes - like turning risotto into arancini, thickening a soup into pasta sauce, or turning roast mushrooms into pate. Not looking for " make a sandwhich/taco" etc. Looking for things where you basically need a completed other dish before you start.
posted by The Whelk to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Mashed potatoes can turn into several things including potato bread and potato pancakes. Leftover ham can become ham croquettes.
posted by cabingirl at 8:24 AM on December 3, 2015

This is just on the edge of being a completely different dish, but I find that a lot of different things can be quickly turned into fried rice (and leftover rice is good for fried rice because the rice dries out a bit in the fridge).
posted by grobstein at 8:33 AM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Waffled mashed potatoes (Waffling in general tends to be transformative.)

Full disclosure: This is a link to something I wrote, but I also believe it's a relevant answer to your question.
posted by veggieboy at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

There's an episode of Mind of a Chef where the host makes Bubble and Squeak, which I had never heard of and found fascinating. It's essentially a frittata type of thing with leftover roasted vegetables. Perfect for breakfast.
posted by monologish at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bubble & Squeak uses the leftovers from a roast dinner.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:35 AM on December 3, 2015

Shepherd's pie is best when you make it with leftover burgers / meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Chicken tortilla soup starts with your leftover chicken (and tortillas, if such a thing exists)

We also grind up leftover steak, mix it with a wine sauce and bake it inside puff pastry squares to make turnovers.
posted by Mchelly at 8:41 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Every time I make grits for breakfast, I make a lot extra, refrigerate the leftovers, then a day or two later, cut them in to slices and fry them up as polenta. Same goes for white rice; fried rice is much, much better if you use leftover rice, which has had time to dry out somewhat and therefore doesn't get sticky during frying.

On preview, seconding grobstein on fried rice.
posted by saladin at 8:43 AM on December 3, 2015

Roast Beef Hash.
posted by Dolley at 8:47 AM on December 3, 2015

EatingWell magazine had a few slow-cooker recipes based on this idea a few years ago.
posted by amarynth at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Radical Rethinking of Thanksgiving Leftovers (NYTimes) is a collection of 20 recipes that transforms different leftovers of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
posted by amf at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2015

Leftover sweet potato can be whizzed up with cream to make pasta sauce or curry sauce.
posted by emilyw at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Leftover cooked spaghetti can be used to make a spaghetti pancake, which you can then eat with your leftover sauce if you had any. My mom used to just double her spaghetti sometimes when she made it for us, and use the remainder to make spaghetti pancake the next day.
posted by town of cats at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

The first step in making butter chicken is making tandoori chicken, so I think that qualifies.

Since taking a cooking class in Korea, I've been turning leftovers into dumplings. Last night, for instance, I turned a cup of leftover fried skate wing (and a few other ingredients) into 2 dozen seafood dumplings in about 20 minutes. Damned good meal for a Wednesday!
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chilaquiles are essentially what you'd get if you had the right leftovers for the chicken tortilla soup mentioned above, but wanted something you could eat on a plate with eggs for breakfast.

Cake pops are an acceptable way to repurpose leftover cake. It's still essentially cake, but it looks totally different.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:36 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Leftover cooked spaghetti can be used to make a spaghetti pancake, which you can then eat with your leftover sauce if you had any.

It can similarly be used for spaghetti frittata.

Also, you want to read the first section of Judith Jones' The Pleasures of Cooking for One, because this is precisely what the first section of that book is about.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Meal 1: roast chicken

Meal 2: strip the meat off the bones and make chicken and biscuits or chicken pot pie.

Meal 3: use the bones to make chicken broth. If you're a decent person you'll put matzoh balls in it.

Pro tip: after stripping the carcass on day two, throw it in the pot immediately with your veggies and let it simmer all evening while you cook and eat your pot pie. Strain it and fridge it at the end of the night and the next day you've got your jiggly chicken stock all ready to skim and heat. Use the fat for your matzoh balls.
posted by bq at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Brunswick Stew can be made out of any leftover pulled pork you might have.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:58 AM on December 3, 2015

How To Make a Panade from Leftovers

...it's delicious. I use a decent white bread, veg stock, strong hard old cheeses, white beans, cubed potatoes, some sturdy greens, onions and/or leeks, and other whatnot. But you can use any leftover whatever.

And they are right about "Panade makes fantastic leftovers - especially if you pan-fry a healthy scoop in some butter!" It also freezes well.

Boxty requires mashed potatoes. It's good filled/stuffed.

Arepas and crepes can be filled with a wide variety of leftovers.
posted by kmennie at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chazuke is delicious, especially if you have those handy Japanese rice seasoning bottles (furikake). You definitely need prepared rice and maybe some other toppings from leftovers for it, like fish or veggies. I recommend getting the wakame furikake one.
posted by yueliang at 11:22 AM on December 3, 2015

I'm not totally sure that this meets your guidelines, but Serious Eats posted a recipe for turning leftover Thanksgiving into turkey 'carnitas', and I can attest that it made some damned delicious meat for tacos and very tasty enchiladas (with leftover roasted sweet potato, cheese, and verde sauce).
posted by Kpele at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2015

Like the spaghetti pancake, leftover soba noodles + any leftover vegetables or tofu + beaten eggs = fried noodle cakes. Dip in soy sauce. (The day I figured this out I made and ate eight or nine in a row.) Works for rice and leftover curry too but I find noodles most delicious.
posted by clavicle at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2015

I make rib stew whenever I have leftover baby back ribs. It's similar to Brunswick stew, but cooked bbq ribs are essential because of the flavor the bbq'd bones impart. Strip off the meat and chop it up, then throw it in a slower cooker for 6 hours with the rib bones, potatoes, carrots, butter beans, corn, a can of diced tomatoes, a generous glug of bbq sauce and salt/pepper to taste. Nom.
posted by gatorae at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

arancini are made with leftover risotto.

I always learned that ribollita (which after all means "reboiled") uses not only stale bread, but an already-made soup.. like you make the bean and kale soup, and then later you reboil it with that stale bread. Sounds horrible but ribollita is crazy delicious made right. However most recipes I see on the Internet just have you make it from scratch which, I mean, is fine, but I think not as special.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:15 PM on December 3, 2015

posted by Ausamor at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2015

For Chinese or Asian leftovers, pao fan. My in-laws use broth instead of plain hot water, which sounds far more palatable to me.
posted by peripathetic at 7:29 PM on December 4, 2015

We have tacos on 1 night,making a lot of taco beef. Habmurg, chili powder, a little flour, salt. The next night the taco beef is the bottom layer of shepherd's pie. Middle layer is 1 can creamed corn + 1 can plain corn. top with mashed potatoes, maybe grated cheese, bake till bubbly. this is my family's comfort food.
posted by theora55 at 7:37 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

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