Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Joy of Leftovers - Part Two

As I said yesterday, I love cooking a big joint and then having leftovers. Cooled quickly and kept refrigerated, they are usually good for two days after the dinner, and they can make some fabulous meals. I know when I was a kid, leftovers were a thing to be dreaded as they were often just a repeat performance of the same meal, but today we are masters and mistresses of re-invention in the kitchen. Most of my meals with leftovers bear almost no resemblance to the original meal they are leftover from.

Which leads me to tonight's meal, with the last of the leftover leg of pork. I used to hesitate to make stir fries with meat that was already cooked as I was afraid it would dry out, but I've discovered that if you slice it very thin, and add it right at the very end of the stir fry with the sauce, it can taste utterly delicious. Remember the secret of a good stir fry is the "stir" part. Have everything ready and close by before you start so you can stir the ingredients almost constantly.

Please note that the quantities in this recipe are very flexible. The amounts below serve two to three, but you can obviously adjust quantities to suit your diners and their appetites!

The 21st Century Housewife's
Leftovers Stir Fry
2 tablespoons oil - preferably light olive oil (not extra virgin) or Canola (rapeseed oil) or sesame oil is nice if you have it
a handful of leftover pork, beef or chicken, very finely sliced or shredded
one onion, thinly sliced (red onions are nice if you have them on hand but it doesn't matter)
a couple handfuls of raw vegetables (whatever you have on hand - last night I used 3 carrots, a red pepper and a yellow pepper), thinly sliced
a couple of handfuls ready prepared noodles (from a packet) -or leftover spaghetti if you have it
1 sachet or jar of your favourite stir fry sauce OR
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce mixed with 3 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat the oil in a wok or large high sided frying pan. When it is very hot, but not smoking, add the onion and stir fry until it begins to soften a little. Now add the vegetables. Stir fry until the vegetables are beginning to soften but still have a bit of crunch.
Add the noodles or leftover spaghetti and heat through. When they are hot, toss in the meat and sauce of your choice. Stir just to mix and heat through.
Remove from heat and serve. We always try to eat this with chopsticks, which I can do up until I am near the end of the bowl and then I usually give up and use a fork!
It goes without saying that if you prefer rice (or have some leftover rice from the day before that you have cooled quickly and refrigerated promptly), you can use it instead. One word of caution, never keep leftover rice for more than a day and always keep it refrigerated. It's one of the easiest things for bacteria to grow in. Enough said!
If you are using leftover rice, mix it in with the stir fry to make Fried Rice (at the point where I say to add the noodles) and make sure it is thoroughly heated through.

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