Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lunch Week 31: Thanksgiving Leftovers Revisited

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Thanksgiving Leftovers Revisited
Sometimes I have so many leftovers, I get sick of the Thanksgiving food. It's not the food itself but the flavors. Sure I can eat the same lunch day after day during the work week. But if I'm having leftovers for more than a week, I'm calling it quits. But I don't ever like to throw things out. Instead, I try to reinvent the dishes with other flavors. You see, most of my dishes and recipes include similar ingredients. It's just the spices and sauces that make them different. So with the extremely old leftovers, I made completely different dishes to appease my palate.

First the stuffing. I love stuffing and all the different ingredients and textures going on there. But there's only so much I can eat of it. So to revamp it, I like to add a lot of marinara sauce and mix it up. It almost becomes a baked Italian dish (sans pasta).
And to change it some more, I add a good grating of pecorino romano on top. This funky sheep's cheese adds a unique flavor that's found in Italian cooking but not so much in Thanksgiving food. I bake this until it bubbles and the cheese melted. Let cool and serve. Maybe with fried eggs on top.
Some of the more common leftovers are mashed potatoes...
...baked macaroni and cheese...
...and baked ham.
So what to do? Easy, ham and cheese croquettes! To make them, chop up everything in very small pieces.
Mix together until well distributed.
Then form into oblong balls. It's best if the mashed potatoes are cold and very thick.
Then roll into bread crumbs. I use seasoned bread crumbs here. Then into an egg wash then into bread crumbs again.
Shallow fry the croquettes until browned and crispy on all sides.
Once fried, remove from oil and let cool. These are best served warm and still crispy.
I didn't do much to change these dishes but the difference in flavor and texture is noticable. It really helps me avoid wasting food. It was prevents me from freezing more food only to dig it up 1 year later wondering what it was.


  1. This is a really creative way to eat leftovers! It's like a brand new dish. :)

  2. The croquettes sound and look awesome. Guess you found a good use for leftover mac and cheese after all!


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