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When cooking for a family it can be hard to get the portions right: from your teen who’s decided they’re not hungry, to your toddler who thinks that dinner looks better on the floor, to your partner who has eyes bigger than their belly.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up five delicious recipes perfect for making use of your leftovers, whether it’s for the next meal or by freezing them for a later date. Get into the habit of doing this and it will save you cooking time, money and wastage.
Leftover chicken recipes
These will make the most of your roast, and work well with leftover turkey too. To really make the most of it, you can use the bird carcass to make stock which you can freeze for future use. Heat the bones in a pan of water until simmering, skimming the protein off the surface regularly. Add vegetables and a bundle of herbs and keep topping up with cold water for 3-4 hours. Strain, pour into a clean pan and boil to reduce.
1. Chicken and risotto
- Lightly sauté chopped red peppers, onion and garlic in a little vegetable oil
- When softened, add some risotto or basmati rice, coating all the grains with oil.
- Add a small glass of white wine, and keep stirring.
- Once it’s absorbed, add a ladleful of stock. Keep stirring, and repeat until the rice is cooked through.
- Chop the cooked chicken or turkey and add to the rice mix, stirring and heating for another five minutes.
2. Hearty chicken broth
- Chop onion, carrots, leeks and other veg to taste, then sauté these until soft with herbs in vegetable oil or melted butter.
- Cover so the vegetables soften, then add one to two litres of chicken or vegetable stock.
- After about 10 minutes simmering, add the chopped chicken or turkey (without the skin), and warm through for another five to 10 minutes.
- Blend if you prefer a smoother soup.
Leftover veg recipe
3. Vegetable crumble
- Lightly fry sliced leeks, chopped onions and courgettes, then stir in your leftover veg. Feel free to boost it with extra veggies to make it even healthier, just add them before the leftovers to give them time to cook through.
- Make a cheese sauce by melting 50g butter, stirring in 50g flour and cooking to make a roux. Slowly add milk, stirring all the while to prevent lumps. Once thickened, grate in some cheese.
- Put the veg in an ovenproof dish, and pour over the cheese sauce.
- Use your blender to make your stale (not mouldy) bread into breadcrumbs. Add herbs, grate in a strong mature cheese and a dash of cooking oil to make a crumble topping for your veg.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C (350°F or gas mark 4).
Leftover fish recipe
4. Baked peppers with fish
- Boil some basmati rice in stock.
- Just before it’s completely cooked, sautéed a finely chopped onion.
- Once soft, mix it with the drained rice and some flaked fish.
- Add whole red, green or yellow peppers to boiling salted water for five minutes, but don’t allow them to get too soft.
- Dry them then brush with a little vegetable oil.
- Cut their tops off, remove seeds and spoon your fish and rice mix.
- Perch the sliced-off tops back on and bake for 15 minutes at a moderate heat to fully warm through.
Leftover cooked ham
5. Ham and cheese pies
- Chop up cooked ham and mix with grated cheese, one finely chopped onion and a whisked egg.
- Roll out a batch of shortcrust pastry and use a cookie cutter (or the edge of a cup if you don’t have one!) circles of pastry.
- Use these to make 12 little pie cases in a muffin tin.
- Add a spoonful of the ham and cheese mix to each, then cover with a smaller circle of pastry.
- Brush each with beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C (350°F or gas mark 4).
It’s always important to store leftovers correctly so you don’t risk making anyone ill. Throw away anything that’s been partly eaten and put the leftovers in sealed containers in the fridge within one to two hours of cooking, allowing them time to cool first. Use within two days.
When freezing meat and fish, make sure it’s fully cooled down before putting it in the freezer, and wrap it properly. When thawing, either defrost it in a microwave or in the fridge, making sure that any juices are caught on a plate. Use it within 24 hours of defrosting.
Do you have any recipes great for using up leftovers?
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