Beef, Leftover Recycling, Potatoes, Quick Meals

Recycling is good, the breakfast edition.

Happy Boxing Day, friends! So it’s noon, and you’ve got the remains of a roast beef in the refrigerator, and a potato or two that didn’t make their way into the purée, or even some leftover roast potatoes. It logically follows that you would have a roast beef hash for brunch.

Hash follows the tradition of great leftover foods – most Northern European cuisines feature a dish of leftover roast meat, fried up with potato and onion, and, if you think about it, fried rice is the same thing in Asian cuisine, featuring leftover rice instead of the potato. The beauty part is that you can use any leftover protein – roast beef, corned beef, roast pork, smoked salmon, chicken, turkey…the method is the same no matter what you use.

roast beef hash, poached egg, chive

Roast beef hash

If you have any leftover salt mixture from the Roast Beef recipe, use it to season the hash. The coriander and black pepper flavors will complement the flavors in the roast.

1/2 lb leftover roast beef, diced 1/4″
2 medium russet potatoes (alternatively, equivalent quantity of leftover roast potato), diced 1/4″
1 small onion, peeled and diced (1/4″)
Leftover salt mix from the Roast Beef recipe, or salt and pepper to taste
poached or sunnyside up eggs, one or two per person

Place a skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add about 1 tbsp oil. Add the onions and sauté until just translucent; then add the potatoes and toss well with the oil. Turn as the onions become golden. Add a few tablespoons of water if necessary to aid cooking and cover to steam.

When the potatoes are nearly tender, add the diced meat. Toss well and do not disturb for a few minutes to allow the potatoes and beef to brown; turn and brown for several minutes more. Season with the salt mixture (or salt and pepper), and serve with a poached egg, ketchup on the side.

Poaching an egg

Authorities differ on the best way to poach an egg. Some say you should add vinegar to the water; some recommend swirling the water quickly to form a vortex, and then adding the egg to the center of the vortex. Although the vortex method presumably allows the swirling water to shape the egg, I find it a giant pain and never use this method. I also do not use vinegar, although it does help the egg white proteins coagulate quickly and maintain the egg’s shape. If you do choose to use vinegar, a small amount will do – about 1 tbsp per quart of water.

The key is to maintain the water’s temperature just below a simmer. In other words, the water should not actually be simmering and bubbles should not break the surface. It helps to bring the water to a simmer and turn it down. Anything more vigorous may cause the egg white to break up as you add the egg to the water. Remove using a slotted spoon and blot on a clean cloth towel.

1 quart water
eggs, any size or type
white vinegar (if you like), 1 tbsp per quart

Add vinegar to the water if you are using it, bring the water to a simmer, and turn down so the water is just below a simmer and bubbles do not break the surface. Break an egg into a small bowl one at a time before adding to the water – you should be able to poach a couple of eggs at a time. Use a slotted spoon to shape the egg white as soon as you lower the egg into the water. Watch closely to determine when the white has cooked through completely and then remove the egg using the slotted spoon. Blot gently on a clean cloth towel if necessary.

Leftover Recycling, Pork Products, Quick Meals

Recycling is good, part 2.

So it’s been a rough couple weeks for cooking, as we’re right in the middle of the holiday season. As you may recall, from Adventures in Ham, I foolishly succumbed to the impulse to buy a twenty pound fresh ham just before embarking on a multi-day restaurant and party binge that has kept me out of the kitchen every night but one since the fateful purchase.

So what do you do with 14 pounds of leftover roast pork? Well, for starters, you freeze it if you’re not going to use it right away. I cut it all off the bone after resting, into four large chunks, vacuum sealed them, and froze them all. In the interest of full disclosure, the meat, while cooked to a safe temperature (145F) at the bone in the 4 hours I roasted it at 350F, was not cooked to an optimal doneness throughout. Fresh ham comprises both the lean “white meat” of the pig, and the fattier, far more delicious, “dark meat.” The white meat was properly cooked through, but the dark meat needs to be cooked longer, at lower temps, to be fall off the bone delicious. If I had the chance, I’d roast it at 200F for 24 hours. Not a weeknight project, but one for another time.

But anyway, on to the recycling part. Re-roasting the pork, at least the white meat, held little promise. It already was cooked optimally – juicy and still slightly pink – and a second roasting to heat through would dry it out. I could reheat it sous vide, but that seemed like a lot of effort. The solution? Pasta sauce.

Recently, a reader wrote asking for a recipe that would ease her back into the kitchen. I provided a master recipe for tomato sauce, with variations. Here’s another one: using the leftover sauce in the freezer with the leftover pork to make a quick pasta sauce. In the twenty minutes it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you can put this together and give it time to simmer. And the beauty part? You’ll never guess that you’ve recycled two earlier recipes.

20 minute pork ragù

1 lb leftover roast pork, from preceding recipe or any other roast pork recipe, diced 1/4″ to 1/2″ depending on your preference
1 small fennel bulb, small dice (1/4″)
1 small onion, small dice (1/4″)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 c basic red sauce, from master recipe
olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
bay leaf
salt and black pepper
1 lb dry pasta
grated Pecorino or another grana cheese

Place a saucepot over medium heat and, when hot, add a little olive oil. Sweat the fennel and onion until soft and tender; add the fennel seeds and sauté a minute until fragrant. Add the red sauce, the pepper flakes to taste, the bay leaf, and the diced pork; bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, although salt may not be necessary as both the pork and the master red sauce have been seasoned previously.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Drain and return to the pot; sauce and toss. Serve with grated cheese, if desired. Twenty minutes!

20 minute pork ragù

Random Thoughts

Speaking of recycling…

eGullet is doing the “No-Shopping Challenge” – basically a freezer/refrigerator eat-down – this week. Even The Guardian has covered it. Now, as a matter of fact, the Sunday Roast through Ragù meals this week all have been in the nature of eatdown. I’m enjoying the serendipity.

We’ll be doing one of these right here in the Kitchen after Thanksgiving to help you tighten your belts after that holiday shopping, so stay tuned!

Italian, Lamb., Leftover Recycling, Pasta, Quick Meals

Recycling is good.

So let’s say you roasted a leg of lamb, not for company but just for the two of you, and now you’re looking for ways to dispose of the leftovers. Try chopping up the roast meat and turning it into a ragù.

Broadly speaking, a ragù is a meat-based sauce, usually based on a soffritto (fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery, cooked down in olive oil), with pancetta, tomato, wine, and meat broth. Usually the meat for ragù is finely chopped or ground while raw. This recipe relies on cooked meat to use up the leftover roast. You can, of course, use the meat from fresh lamb, but you will need to cook it much longer. In that case, use the shoulder if you can get it, or stew meat if you can’t, dice it as finely as possible (1/4″ or smaller), and simmer the dish, partially covered, for about 2 1/2 hours.

Regarding the pasta selection: ragù bolognese made with beef traditionally accompanies an egg-based pasta, like lasagna or pappardelle. I was thinking of my honeymoon in Sardinia, though, when I made this lamb sauce. One might think that, as an island, Sardinia would rely heavily on seafood, but it does not. Sardegnan cuisine features lamb, goat, and pork far more than fish. I had some of the best pork – the delicious roast, porcheddù – while in Cagliari. They also enjoy a small, dry, gnocchi-shaped pasta called malloreddus, traditionally served with a tomato-based meat sauce. I found a package of malloreddus in the pantry and the dish was ready to go. You can substitute another short ridged pasta, like rigatoni or penne.

Mint and a little lemon zest complement the lamb’s characteristic flavor.

Lamb ragù, mint, pecorino sardo, malloreddus.

Lamb ragù with mint, malloreddus
1 small onion, minced
2 medium carrots, small dice (1/8″)
1 lb lamb leg roast meat, diced (1/4″)
4 ounces pancetta, diced (1/4″)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 c dry red wine
6 canned San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
1 c meat broth, or chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
olive oil
1 lb malloreddus (substitute penne rigate, rigatoni – if you can find it, pici is nice)
grated pecorino sardo (substitute pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
handful mint leaves
handful parsley
lemon zest

Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. When hot, add a tbsp of oil and the vegetables – first, the onions, then the carrots, sauteeing each slowly until they are tender and just beginning to brown. Turn the vegetables out into a container. Add the pancetta to the empty pan and return to heat. Saute until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is beginning to crisp, and add the diced meat. Lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring only occasionally, until the meat is brown. If you are using raw product, this will take a fairly long time and you should select a wider pan.

When the meat is browned, incorporate the tomato paste and then add the wine. Stir well to release all the fond from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated/been absorbed. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up, the juice, and the broth or stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook, partially covered, until the sauce is thick and the meat is very tender (if using cooked lamb to start, 30 minutes is sufficient for a good ragù, but more is better; if using uncooked product to start, you will need a couple of hours). Add additional stock if the sauce starts to dry out. Hold ragù for service.

Cook the malloreddus in boiling salted water. Drain and return to pan. Sauce with ragù, toss, and plate. Spoon some cheese over the top as well as some torn or minced mint and parsley leaves and lemon zest.

Now that's Italian.

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.