What are the best Sunday lunch leftovers for weekday meals?
Ah, a centrepiece-worthy Sunday lunch that can be reinvented come Monday (and Tuesday and beyond) to bring ease and variety to weeknights … While leftover roast chicken is, perhaps, the obvious answer to Alison’s question, it’s nonetheless a good starting point. “It’s one of my favourite things,” chef Chantelle Nicholson says. “You can use the meat in multiple ways, and you also have the carcass to make stock.”
Yes, stock might seem a bit of a faff, especially if, as Nicholas Balfe puts it, “you’re stuffed and tipsy”, but it is well worth the effort. “The next day, make a ramen-style broth seasoned with miso and dried seaweed, if you have it, and add quick-cook noodles and thinly sliced leftover roast meat,” says Balfe, whose new restaurant, Holm, opens in Somerset in November. Alternatively, Florence Knight, who heads the kitchen at Sessions Arts Club in London, simmers ricotta gnudi in chicken stock “with a good handful of sorrel leaves”, while Nicholson uses hers to glaze vegetables: “I love spring greens or sprout tops cooked in reduced chicken stock.” (Any you don’t use can be frozen in ice cube trays.)
When it comes to the bird, the first trick is to get the roast right. “Air-dry it in the fridge overnight with a light rub of salt and bicarbonate of soda, to help crisp up the skin,” says Knight, whose trimmings include roast potatoes and carrots (leftovers are destined for soup topped with salsa verde and croutons). Then, for a quick Monday meal, fold the shredded leftover chicken through bitter leaves or baby gem with herbs, lemon and creme fraiche.
Rice is another excellent vehicle for leftovers, Balfe says: “Fry an egg in a hot wok, add cooked rice, leftover cabbage and roast veg, shredded meat, sichuan pepper, toasted nuts, coriander and sesame oil.” Job done. That said, cooking a big batch of, say, lentils or spelt (for salads, curries, stews) is another efficient way of doing things, as is roasting a squash, which Nicholson adds to frittatas and pastas, or blends into soup.
We all know roasties are the best part of Sunday lunch, so it’s no surprise any leftovers are a hot commodity. “If the spuds don’t get snaffled by bedtime,” Balfe says, “they’re great in a focaccia sandwich with leftover roast meat, mayo, pickles and hot sauce.” They can also be refashioned in numerous other ways – for Tom Hunt, that means aloo chaat: crush and cook leftover roast potatoes in oil, add chaat masala, cooked pulses and tomato, then chuck in spring onions, coriander and chilli. Serve with more chaat masala, a splatter each of tamarind paste and yoghurt and a lime wedge.
Then there are pies. Stuart Deeley, head chef of Smoke at Hampton Manor in the West Midlands, knocks up “compost pie”, AKA whatever roast veg he’s got to hand mixed with cheese sauce and topped with pastry. Balfe, meanwhile, has been known to make a pot pie with leftover diced lamb: “Combine it with sweated onions, carrot, celery, a handful of lentils or pearl barley, leftover veg and stock, season and crown with a suet crust.”
Deeley, meanwhile, turns excess lamb into ragu, though for quicker comfort vibes, make like Nicholson with a lamb, kimchi and cheddar toastie (fried in lamb fat optional, but encouraged). “Now that’s really good.” And who am I to argue?