I will freely admit that I have a love of quantifying and ranking things. Creating ordered lists comes as naturally to me as appreciating chocolate. Many times ranking is not static, it is a dynamic process. Here is a top five list I compiled in my mind while washing dishes this evening.
The Top Five Leftovers: I’m usually not fond of leftovers. I tend to eat everything I prepare (I’m working on either fixing this habit or reducing the amount of food I prepare) to avoid having leftovers. Some foods, however, make excellent leftovers.
- Manicotti – The king of leftovers. On the second day it is glorious. I have already made manicotti a day early so I could call it all leftover and then eat it the next day.
- Stir Fry – There is some variability by ingredients, but some stir frys improve in the refrigerator over night.
- Meatloaf – Slicing a slab of second day meatloaf, slathering it in ketchup, sprinkling mozzarella cheese on it, heating it, and putting it on a toasted roll is a good thing–a good thing indeed.
- Lemon Chicken – The breaded type of lemon chicken is great the second day. It often dries out a bit, but I don’t mind that at all.
- Beef Stew – Not the soupy kind, but the hearty version that contains mushroom soup, onion soup, potatoes, and carrots. It holds up well.
Honorable mentions: Candied sweet potatoes and oyster filling (two Thanksgiving standards).
In my refrigerator the third day is when the bell tolls for most leftovers. I don’t like leaving things sit around. Many times a second rate leftover will sit in a plastic container for three days before I discard it (a short stay in a refrigerated purgatory before being sentenced to the dumpster).
The leftover top five list was prompted by two stir fry dishes I put in the refrigerator tonight, one will improve overnight (beef/snow pea/onion/mango) while the other will remain about the same (chicken/broccoli). As I pondered the differences in aging I began to wonder about the hierarchy of leftovers. . .