Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happiness Left Over
“‘Tis substantial happiness to eat.” - Alexander Pope

I decided to clean out my refrigerator and serve leftovers for dinner. Here is what I found:
¼ Cup chicken drippings flavored with onion and lemon
¼ Cup beef au jus, left from a pot roast
1 Cup beef stew with 3 whole new potatoes, beef, carrots sliced diagonally
1 Cup sautéed mushrooms
¼ Cup cooked ground beef, left from taco salad
¼ Cup kidney beans, left from taco salad
Carrots sticks, celery sticks, red and yellow bell peppers left from taco salad
3 olives, 4 blanched asparagus spears....lots of fresh broccoli

I heated 3 T olive oil in a big saucepan. Simultaneously I began heating water for pasta. After slicing the carrots, I chopped the celery. The peppers were already diced. When the oil was hot, I sautéed the carrots, celery and peppers.

As soon the vegetables were brightly colored, I made a roux by sprinkling 3 T of flour over the vegetables and the oil. This I browned for a few minutes and added chili powder, kosher salt and pepper.

Making a roux -equal measures oil (or melted butter or pan drippings from a roasted chicken or beef) and flour- is the key to “dressing up” leftovers like this and also to making cream soups or flavorful, lumpless gravy. For cream sauce use butter for the fat and milk for the liquid added later. Sprinkle the flour over the hot fat and mix in with a fork or a whisk until it is smooth. Then cook this – watch it bubble and gain a golden brown color. If you are using the pan after a roast, now is the time to use the whisk to scrape up the browned bits of flavor stuck to the pan. After about 5 minutes, add liquid – broth, water, or milk for a cream sauce. In this leftover situation, I added I added the chicken drippings and the beef au jus (which is just the juice left from roasting).

A nice brown gravy formed- fragrant and smooth.

The mushrooms looked beautiful in this gravy! Into this I poured the leftover beef stew, the ground beef and the kidney beans. The peppers and carrots still looked bright, so I decided to chop up a little broccoli to add some bright green.
The water started boiling and I cooked some tri-colored pasta. When it was nearly done, I added the broccoli to the “stew” and it steamed to a bright green. I chopped the asparagus and sliced the olives and added them at the last minute.
Preparation took about 20 to 25 minutes. Served over pasta, the stew was bright, colorful and delicious. My refrigerator is clean and empty of leftovers.


  1. We eagerly await your next post! How about the instructions for your hummus? Or maybe that french chicken? Or maybe something about how to pretend with a 3 year old. You are a master at that "Polly"

  2. This is exactly how I get inspired, that is, by letting the things in my fridge speak to me, and reading all this brings back so many memories--even as far back as Ridgely Avenue! Julia talks about "feasting on the remains." (On another note... having the worst time getting a photo uploaded with onto this site. Not sure why. I'll have to try again tomorrow.)