Leftover Recycling, Quick Meals

Leftover lunch.

At home today for Veteran’s Day, I couldn’t decide what to have for lunch.  Yesterday, my husband and I had a quick lunch at Urfa Tomato in Penn Quarter – I got the Euro Doner sandwich, as usual, and – as usual – only ate half of it, thinking I could eat the rest today.  Unfortunately, it’s in the refrigerator at the office, so I needed to find something else to eat.

Sometimes, when you have a lot of options, everything sounds good and nothing sounds great, and you wind up eating half a giant bag of potato chips.  To avoid that fate, I started rooting through the refrigerator for leftovers.  I found, in addition to the remains of a batch of flageolet purée from late last week, some leftover duck confit and some butter-braised leeks.  Then I remembered some leftover cooked spaghetti sitting vacuum packed in the reach-in.  Duck confit and beans are a classic combination, as are beans and leeks.

Both the spaghetti and the duck confit were sealed up, vacuum packed.  My husband – when his mouth isn’t too full of sousvide short ribs – derisively refers to this as “boil in bag.”   It’s true.  For home cooks, one virtue of the vacuum sealer is the ability to store leftovers for future reheating in the bag, by placing the bag in simmering water, which reheats the food without drying it out or, in the case of pasta, making it mushy.


Spaghetti, duck confit, flageolet.

2 ounces spaghetti (dry weight), cooked and drained or located in freezer and reheated

3 tbsp flageolet purée, thinned with 2 tsp water

duck confit, reheated

butter-braised leeks, from Sweetbreads recipe

pea sprouts

juice of 1/2 lemon

In a sauteuse over medium heat, reheat the leeks until butter is melted and beginning to bubble.  Lower heat and add the flageolets.  Combine well and add spaghetti; toss with lemon juice.  Season with black pepper.

Plate in a shallow bowl and top with duck confit and pea sprouts.

Random Thoughts

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Chicken, Quick Meals, Soup, Squash, Vegetables

Chicken Tonight.

Do you have an hour?  You can make this meal.

The key is to break down the chicken rather than roasting it whole, because the parts will cook within 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, as the chicken roasts and then rests, make the soup and prep the brussels sprouts.

1 chicken, broken down, breasts and leg/thigh quarters only
1 oz cold butter, flaked with fork
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp espelette pepper (or black pepper with a tiny pinch of cayenne)
2 sprigs thyme, leaves minced

Brussels sprouts:

1/2 lb sprouts, ends trimmed, halved
2 slices Nueske’s bacon or other smoky bacon, diced (1/4″)

Butternut squash soup:

1 leek, white only, washed well and julienned
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (1/2″)
1 quart chicken stock
4-5 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
kosher salt, celery salt
espelette and cayenne pepper ((or black pepper with a tiny pinch of cayenne)

2 oz butter
handful sage leaves
1/2 lemon

Chicken: 40 minutes

Oven 350F

Cut the leg-thigh joint (do not cut through meat).  Combine butter, salt, espelette, and thyme.  Gently lift the skin on the chicken but do not remove; stuff  bits of the butter mixture under the skin.  Season the skinless side lightly with salt.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil when hot.  Add chicken, skin side down.  Baste meat as butter melts.  Turn chicken over, baste again, and place in oven.  Roast, basting twice, for 20 minutes.  Test for doneness (165F).  Remove and rest.  Immediately before serving, return to pan skin-side up and baste skin with melted butter.  Place under broiler and heat to crisp skin.


Roast chicken, brussels sprouts, flageolet purée

Soup: about 30 minutes

Sweat the onion and leek until tender in a small quantity of vegetable oil in a stock pot. Do not allow to caramelize. Add the squash and sweat until tender.  Saute for about ten minutes until the squash has begun to soften. Add the herbs and the stock. Simmer until the squash is tender enough to fall apart when pressed with a fork.

Remove the thyme branches and bay leaves. Puree in a blender, in batches if necessary. Process the purée through a tamis. Return the purée to a sauce pot and bring to a simmer;  reduce to the desired texture. Season with salt, cayenne, and espelette. Seasoning with a small amount of celery salt in lieu of salt reduces the sometimes too-sweet taste of the squash.

To serve:  heat butter until foamy and beginning to turn light gold; add sage and fry until crisp.  Add a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt.  Add sage leaves and brown butter to soup.


Butternut squash, brown butter, sage

Brussels sprouts: 10 minutes

Place a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bacon and fry until crisp.  Remove bacon but reserve fat.  Add halved sprouts, cut side down, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Flip over when beginning to turn golden brown on cut side.  Return bacon to pan and cook 2 minutes more.   Season with salt.