I bloody hate waste. It’s not that I’m some penny pinching tightwad (well, maybe I am… a bit), it’s more that I feel a moral obligation to get the most out of the food I buy – I don’t want that chicken to have died in vain because I couldn’t get my arse into gear to cook it, nor does it feel right throwing away kilos of sprouting potatoes when people are starving in their millions. (And I’m not talking just Third World here. There’s a food bank two miles up the road from me. In 2015 FFS).
I am a serial ignorer of use by dates, and don’t even get me started on ‘best before’. Everything in my fridge gets a good sniff, prod or nibble before it gets relegated to the bin. Unless it pongs, has gone slimy or has developed an unwelcome fizz, I will try and use it. Don’t get me wrong, I would never put my family’s health at risk – I don’t fart about when it comes to sausages and chicken – and none of us has ever suffered food poisoning from anything I’ve cooked (yet), but I do think instinct has a massive part to play when determining what stays and what goes.
Anyway, more to the point, I bloody LOVE a leftover. On so many occasions, what I rustle up with the leftovers goes down way better with the brood than the original offering. I’m not talking about the sorry cold meat and mash we used to have on Monday nights as kids, I’m talking chicken quesadillas, sesame beef stir fry, filo wrapped spiced lamb, yum, yum, yum. In fact, if I’m buying for a Sunday roast I usually get a bigger joint of meat than is strictly necessary just so we can look forward to one of these during the week.
The brilliant Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is currently (or rather permanently) on a crusade against waste. The revelations in his recent BBC programmes on the subject were jaw dropping – I never thought I’d get tearful over a mountain of unwanted parsnips (if you too care about parsnips, you can pledge your support here www.wastenotuk.com). He’s just bought out a new book, River Cottage Love Your Leftovers, which is on my Christmas list, but it is one of his leftover recipes from River Cottage Every Day (great book) that is a firm favourite in our house (well 75% of it, the 9 year old is not a fan). This is what we had for tea last night (the 9yo had leftover cheesy pasta!):
Leftover pork with fennel and new potatoes
- 2 large fennel bulbs
- 3 tbs olive or rapeseed oil
- About 400g cold cooked new potatoes
- 300-400g leftover pork (I used tenderloin) cut into strips
- A few roughly torn mint leaves (I always use way more because I bloody LOVE mint)
- Salt and pepper
- Trim the fennel and slice vertically into thick slices
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the fennel and saute over a medium heat for 6-7 minutes until tender and golden, or even a bit caramelised
- Add potatoes and fry until golden
- Add pork and fry, stirring, until heated through
- Squeeze over lemon, throw in the mint and season with plenty of salt and pepper
I like a pile of rocket and shaved raw fennel with this, lightly dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Jobs a good’un.