How to use leftover meat from stock

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Hi, everyone! I recently read (and cooked) a recipe  that used lots of chicken thighs to make chicken stock. I then discarded the chicken. Even the recipe creator said, I haven’t found a good use for this chicken. The issue is that when you boil the chicken, the meat loses all of its flavor (that’s basically how you know the stock is done). It’s a beautiful thing. But, I’m not one to promote food waste, and I wasted a LOT of chicken meat that was simply flavorless.

Then, I was re-reading Tamar Adler’s book on cooking, “An Everlasting Meal,” and I happened upon a little tidbit on how to save some of the meat used from stock. Now, I am not saying you need to save ALL of it. I had a lot. But when I made stock again, I did save some of the meat from it. I gave (1) some to my dog, and then (2) I made toast topped with it, as you see above.

The key is mixing it with mayonnaise, herbs, and something acidic — this helps to give back flavor that it lost. I personally think it worked in a synergistic fashion, and I craved this for approximately 3 meals/snacks, and then I ran out.

Here I mixed it with *good* mayonnaise. Homemade if you have it, but I never do. Then I added thinly cut cornichons and sprigs of dill. It is so simple, yet elegant, because it is truly a recipe for those who seek to limit their waste. I also would recommend using fresh bread. I buy a loaf of Acme Sweet Batard nearly every week, slice it, and then freeze it. I hope this helps you in any effort to create a working kitchen.

Refried Bean Quesadillas

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This is probably the most basic recipe — to the point that I feel sheepish even calling it a recipe. It’s more of a life hack that has fed me many times when I thought I could not go on (without some food). If I don’t have any fresh produce or I am in dire need groceries, I whip these up. I always try to keep tortillas and a can of refried beans on hand just for this refried bean quesadilla occasion. You never know when the time may strike, so you gotta be prepared. The modifications are endless, and you’ll likely have at least one of the optional items in your refrigerator or pantry to spice things up (or not; they’re good as-is).

I add everything from sautéed onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms to hot sauce to shredded cheese on top, and sometimes when my goods are plentiful… all of them! I also think it is key to cook the quesadilla in butter, but this is not necessary. I’ve lately taken to serving an herb vinaigrette on the side as a dipping sauce. So. So. Good! Okay, here’s the base recipe:

Ingredients (1 serving):

  • 6 – 8 in. tortilla (really whatever size you want)
  • 1/2 can of refried beans (really as much as you want)
  • Butter

Directions:

  1. Lay tortilla flat and spread a layer of refried beans on it.
  2. Lay the other tortilla on top of the refried beans (add any of the other optional toppings below), and pinch around the sides so as to enclose the beans.
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Once it is heated throughout, spread a layer of butter (or olive oil, or any other fat) to coat the skillet and then heat the butter (this prevents sticking).
  4. Once the butter is heated, add the quesadilla to the skillet, and cook until browned (about 2-3 minutes). Flip the quesadilla, and cook until the other side is browned (about 1-2 minutes).
  5. Add any optional toppings to the top of it all or find a dipping sauce that you like to serve on the side. And we’re done!

Optional:

  • Fresh herbs, chopped (cilantro is great)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cooked rice
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Greek yogurt with lemon
  • Herb vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh parsley, fresh cilantro, any other fresh herbs)
  • Hot sauce
  • You do you — get crazy!