Leftovers. A brilliant way of ensuring you get the most out of everything you have, reducing waste. And I love how many cuisines have developed recipes specifically to use up leftover carbohydrates. For Western cuisines it’s day-old bread – think English bread and butter pudding, Italian panzanella, French toast.
With rice being the staple carbohydrate in Asia, the main dish for using leftover rice is simply frying it with whatever else you have on hand. The basics are you need to add some protein and some vegetables. You can keep it super simple or jazz it up – it’s completely flexible. My recipe below is just an example of what I made last night with some leftover belly pork from a roast I made over the weekend.
A few notes:
You almost can’t make fried rice with freshly cooked rice. There’s something about the way the grains separate to take in all the flavours in the pan rather than going stodgy. I actually spread my rice out on a plate and leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to really dry out the rice. I’ve also tried the healthier option with brown rice, and it’s an individual taste thing, but I think fried rice just works better with white rice because the rice absorbs the flavours better.
You can also just use soya sauce rather than the mix I used below, although the combination of the three sauces, I think, adds a bit more of a complex flavour to the dish, and I think the fish sauce adds an additional hint of umami to the dish.
- 2 cups cooked leftover rice – see note above about drying it out
- 1/2 cup leftover roasted pork belly – you can substitute this with any leftover meat or even sausage
- 2 eggs – I like my fried rice eggy
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 1 tbl oyster sauce
- 1 tbl fish sauce
- 1-2 tbl soya sauce
- Drizzle a small amount of oil over the cold rice and use your fingers to really separate the grains
- Heat your frying pan to high, and fry the meat so that the fat renders
- Push the meat to one side of the pan, crack your eggs on the other, and kind of scramble them
- When the eggs are about half done, add the rice to the pan over the eggs and mix everything together so the eggs almost coat the rice
- Add the peas and mix again
- Add the sauce (you can add more or less to taste) and fry till everything is mixed and fragrant
- Enjoy !
I finally treated myself to a Le Creuset french oven which I’ve been wanting for ages, and of course had to cook with it the day it got delivered. I have a smaller pot but wanted something with a bit more room (to cook more food).
I was planning on making a slowly braised beef stew but had leftover chicken from the previous night, so decided to make a similarly comforting chicken and vegetable pie.
I get so much satisfaction from something as simple as the pure weight of the pot while cooking, and the way the heat is so evenly distributed.
Anyway, my recipe for the pie below. Of course you could do this in any pot you have.
Ingredients for a large pie to feed 4-6
- 1-2 sheets of shortcrust pastry – to make a base that will fit your pie dish, I have a 28cm pie dish that needs 2)
- 1-2 sheets puff pastry
- 4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 cup frozen peas
- leftover chicken meat, removed from the bone and shredded
- 8 baby potatoes, halved and cooked
- handful of tarragon leaves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbls plain flour
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- Begin by making the base. Line your pie dish with the shortcrust pastry and blind bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool
- Fry the bacon lardons in a little olive oil until they are brown and crispy. Remove and set aside
- Fry the onions on low heat in the bacon fat until translucent
- Add the carrots, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, until the carrots have softened
- Add the peas, chicken, potatoes, tarragon and bay leaves
- Turn up the heat, add the white wine and cook till the alcohol cooks out and the wine is more or less gone – you just want the flavour of the wine
- Sprinkle the flour over the chicken mixture and cook out the flour for 3-5 minutes on medium heat
- Add the chicken stock and stir – it should be the consistency of thin gravy. This will thicken as the pie cooks
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly (this helps to prevent the base from getting soggy)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Assemble the pie – pour the chicken filling into the prepared and cooled pie base, cover with a layer of puff pastry, cut a few slashes in the puff to allow steam to escape while the pie cooks
- Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg to give it that lovely colour when the pie cooks
- Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown
Chicken quesadillas with jalapeno peppers and Monterey Jack cheese
Quesadillas are so quick and simple. You can even use leftover chicken or beef for these, which makes them even easier, and of course add whatever you want or have in the fridge. I would have added in slices of red capsicum and avocado but my fridge is bare and it’s late.
Ingredients for one serving (one quesadilla)
- 2 wraps or similar round flatbread – I use wholemeal
- 1 single chicken breast
- sliced jalapenos
- Moneterey Jack cheese slices
- salt and pepper
- Butterfly the chicken breast at the thickest part so that it’s an even thickness, season well on both sides and pan-fry till cooked through and golden brown
- Slice and arrange on one of the wraps, along with the jalapenos and any other fillings you fancy
- Top with a few slices of cheese
- Cover with the second wrap
- Heat up a skillet on high
- Pop the wrap sandwich into the middle of the pan and cook for about 2 minutes – you want to get the cheese melting
- Flip over with the help of a flexible spatula and toast the wrap on the other side for 1-2 minutes until the wraps are crispy and golden
- Slice and enjoy while still warm so the cheese is still gooey
I always roast more potatoes than I need – I don’t really know why, and generally I use the leftovers to thicken soups the next day. At breakfast this morning at the FCC Angkor, D ordered a manchego cheese, potato and roasted garlic frittata. What a wonderfully light and fluffy way of using up leftover potatoes! Sweat some onions in a small frypan on low heat, add in garlic, and then add a mixture of egg, mashed potato and grated cheese (parmesan would be good), cook till the bottom is set, and then pop under the grill till the top is cooked.
You could fry up some bacon after the onions and garlic to make it a true breakfast as what is breakfast without bacon ??
All the Christmas specials are on tellie at the moment, and don’t we just love them. Christmas came early this year with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “A Christmas at River Cottage” and Jamie Oliver’s latest Christmas special. The entire River Cottage series is just one feel-good episode after another – they always leave us with smiles on our faces.
But last night was Jamie’s Christmas special which showed you what to do with your turkey leftovers. Now remember I roasted a turkey for the first time this week and there is LOTS of turkey left over. The winner was a sweet leek and turkey pie – think chicken and leek pie – but Jamie’s tip was to roll our your puff pastry, sprinkle cooked chopped chestnuts and sage over half of it, then fold the non-chestnut bit over and roll it thin again. GENIUS.
That’s for dinner tonight – will let you know how it goes !
Hmm…I’m not convinced of the pastry – the sage was overpowering (even though I only put a few bits in) and I couldn’t taste the chestnuts…but at least all the turkey’s used up !