Post #499 Leftovers

August 10, 2016 at 12:21 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Father in Law is here for an extended visit.  Since we’re now cooking for three, we cooking in larger portions.  We no longer take a large package of chicken thighs and break it up into two meals, for instance.  We cook it all and use the leftovers for another meal.  Sometimes it’s the same one, and sometimes it’s repurposed.  Sort of like Chopped, but no prizes.  And the only judges are the hungry folks around the table.

We get really good at creativity with leftovers, but we run to a few that are favorites.  Tacos, for one.  Put random meat, veggies, and cheese in a corn tortilla with salsa on top or on the side and it’s going to be good.  But one main meal/leftover combination we have fairly often.  It’s good and tasty and inspires a lot of ideas.

First, we start the main meal with either a good pork roast, or several pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs.  We put that in a slow cooker with a jar of good salsa verde.  If we have any tomatillos available, we make our own, but typically it’s a jar.  We add onions, garlic, and fresh peppers of some kind.  That all gets cooked slowly all day long.  When it’s tender, we do a rough shred after draining it of all the juices (which we keep for other uses.)  Then, we either dry sauté it in a large skillet until it gets a little crispy, or we put on a baking sheet and put it in a high oven until the tops start to char.  Throw some fresh cilantro and lime and the result can be eaten as is with a salad, or chunky salsa, rice, and whatever else we like.  Or it can go into a large flour tortilla for burritos, or into corn tortillas for tacos.  There’s always tons of it left over.

The difficulty we have with leftovers in our house is we don’t usually enjoy the same flavors two or three nights in a row.  Fried chicken or pizza is the exception.  Lotsa times we’ll freeze the leftovers, but that usually just ends up getting tossed because we don’t remember what was in that baggie, or it’s far beyond the mythical “use by” date.

But with FiL here, we have to make sure we use everything since we’re spending more.

So we had the pork roast in the slow cooker on Monday.  Partner/Spouse cooked while I was at work.  The roast had not only the salsa verde, but he had thrown in extra onion and garlic, and added potatoes.  We both grew up in the same area near the border of Mexico, but we had both forgotten the flavor added by tossing in a chopped potato until recently.  Now it’s a staple ingredient in much of our Mexican cooking.  We had baked rice, tortillas, the pork roast, and some kind of dessert.

So yesterday, while at work, I was pondering what to do with the leftovers.  The flavor of the roast had been amazing.  Partner/Spouse took the leftover rice and some roast to work for lunch.  I had the roast, some tortillas, and not much else left.  So I decided to make a white chili.

White chili is basically chili con carne but it’s made with chicken instead of beef, white beans instead of red, and no tomatoes are added so it stays a light color rather than turning brownish-red.  So I got a couple of cans of white beans.  But I didn’t just want to add water to the roast because I thought it would just give it a watered down flavor.  So I got a box of chicken stock.  When I got home, I put the leftover roast into a large pot and added the entire four cups of chicken stock.  I started heating it on low and stirred to get the flavors combined.  It was lacking a little kick, so I added a couple of teaspoons of chili powder.  That was okay, but not exactly what I was after.  Oh well, not much to do about it since I didn’t have anything spicier to add.  I left the chili to simmer for an hour or so.  I wanted the chicken stock to reduce and thicken, but it wasn’t doing that.

Then I remembered a trick from ATK.  I had 9 leftover corn tortillas.  I cut them into strips and added about a third of them directly to the chili.  Ordinarily, I would have left the chili to simmer for a few hours, but this was after work, I didn’t get home until nearly 6, and we wanted to eat before 9.  I just didn’t have time.  So I left the tortillas to break down in the chili and thicken it up, which it did beautifully.  With the rest of the strips, I heated some oil and made fresh tortillas chips to have with the chili.  I’d brought home some corn bread mix, but decided the tortilla chips would be plenty.

While I was putting the corn bread mixes away, I found a small can of chopped green peppers!  Woo hoo!  Just what I needed.  Those went into the chili along with the beans.  Another twenty minutes of simmering, and we had a pot of white chili that had the tang of the tomatillos and lime, along with the kick of the green peppers, and the mellowness of corn.

It was a hit, and I’m likely going serve that one again.


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