The following article appears in today’s edition of Manila Standard Today.
The champagne bottles are empty, the gifts have been opened and it’s back to work for most of us. But when we get home at the end of each day, it’s as though the holidays have not ended because the fridge is still full — of leftovers. There’s the ham, the carcass of the roast turkey or chicken, a bowl of sliced poultry meat… You may think they’re nothing but a huge mess inside the fridge but you can clean out your fridge without being wasteful by turning leftovers into great meals.
Duck and sotanghon soup
Place the duck, chicken or turkey carcass (including the bones from the drumsticks, thighs and wings if you still have them) in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Add a whole onion, a whole garlic, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and season with salt. Simmer for at least two hours. Strain the broth. Pick the meat from the bones. Peel a carrot and cut into matchsticks. Finely mince about half a head of garlic. Get some greens and slice finely. If you served duck Chinese style with leeks, Chinese pancakes and hoisin sauce over the holidays, you would have the green portions of the leeks still. You can use them or you can use onion leaves or cabbage. Slice the caps of about six shiitake mushrooms. Pour about four tablespoonfuls of oil in a large pot. Place a tablespoon of annatto (atsuwete) seeds in the oil and heat gently until the oil turns red. Scoop out the annatto seeds. Saute the garlic in the oil. Add the carrots, leeks, mushrooms and meat. Pour in the broth. Add a bunch of unsoaked sotanghon. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve hot.
Duck, turkey, chicken or ham pie
It’s traditional to serve roast duck, turkey, chicken or ham by ceremoniously carving it on the dinner table. If you have leftover sliced meat, you can do more than place them between slices of bread. Make a pie. For a 9-inch pie, you will need about two cups of diced meat. Dice the leftover ham, turkey, duck or chicken meat. Half-inch cubes is an ideal size. Peel two potatos and a carrot. Cut into half-inch cubes as well. Core and remove the seeds and veins of three bell beppers and dice. Heat one-fourth cup of butter in a frying pan. Add the potatos and carrot cubes and cook until lightly browned. Add the bell peppers and the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until everything is heated through. Disperse a tablespoonful of starch (tapioca or corn) in one-half cup of broth or water. Pour into the meat and vegetables and stir until thick and clear. Cool.
Make the crust. For a double-crust pie, you will need two cups of flour, one-half cup of chilled butter, one-half cup of lard, one-half teaspoonful of salt and three tablespoonfuls of sugar. Start by cutting the butter and lard into very small pieces. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the flour mixture to the butter and lard. Mix. Pour in three tablespoonfuls of ice-cold water and mix just until the dough starts to come together. Divide into two portions. Take one portion and roll to a one-fourth-inch thickness. Fit the rolled dough into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. To make the job easier, roll the dough between two sheets of non-stick kitchen paper. That way, you just have to peel off the top sheet, lift the dough by holding the bottom sheet then invert the dough onto the pie plate.
Pour the prepared filling into the dough-lined pie plate. Roll out the remaining half of the dough and use this to cover the pie. Cut the excess dough hanging on the sides. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together and tuck in to seal. Brush the crust with a beaten egg. Create steam vents by piercing the top crust in several spots with a fork. Bake in a pre-heated 180oC oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Oriental fried rice
The most popular solution to leftover dilemmas, the beauty of oriental fried rice is that if you add enough meat and vegetables to the rice, it’s a complete meal.
Take whatever leftover meat you have (ham, chicken, pork, beef, duck or turkey) and dice. What vegetables you want to add is up to you. Carrots, sweet peas and corn are popular choices but you may also use chicharo, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. You may also add sliced mushrooms or chopped shrimps. Whatever meat, seafood and vegetables you’re using, just cut them into small uniform pieces. If you intend to serve the fried rice as a one-dish meal, you will want to keep a 1:1 ratio — one part of meat and vegetables for every part of rice.
Blanch the vegetables in boiling water for one minute. Strain and douse with cold water. Heat some vegetable oil in a wok. Saute some minced garlic and finely chopped onions. Add the meat (and mushrooms and shrimps, if using), stir fry until heated through. Add the rice. Season with salt and pepper (or you may opt for light soy sauce and oyster sauce). Toss over high heat until heated through. Add the vegetables and chopped scrambled eggs and cook, tossing, for a couple of minutes longer. Alternatively, when the rice is hot, make a well in the center and add some beaten eggs. Stir the eggs until almost cooked then stir into the rice. Add the vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until the eggs are done and the vegetables are heated through.