A Recipe Redux: a new twist on leftovers

A “redux”, by definition, means of a topic, restored, brought back, revisited.  This recipe is my way of showing you, dear reader, how to take something that clearly isn’t going to work in its present state and turn it into something that has your family and friends saying “wow.. what is this?”  I had the opportunity to make a totally new recipe from some leftovers and was so thrilled with the results that I simply had to share them.

Every so often, there is leftover food from an event at our winery.  Caterers don’t want to take cooked food home and not everyone thinks about bringing food storage bags to take away the excess, so the employees and volunteers become the willing recipients of this cooked bounty.   This happened recently and I was very excited to try my hand at creating something totally new and different from the plate of food I had to bring home.

What did I have to start?  The caterer had made a beef tenderloin with a tasty brown sauce, scalloped potatoes, crab cakes with a mango salsa, and a great green salad.  There was enough left over that plates were made up for the three staff members working the event (I love when caterers think of this, since I feel funny traipsing into someone else’s event and grabbing some of their food) that included individual portions of each item.  Since I knew the salad wouldn’t make it home (and it wouldn’t be enough to feed M and myself), I ate that while still at work.  I now had three slices of cooked beef tenderloin with sauce, a serving of scalloped potatoes, and two small crab cakes (with that yummy salsa) to take home for dinner.  The crux of the problem was that this wasn’t going to feed both my husband and myself… oh, what to do… what to do…

My Redux:  Once I got home, I sliced the beef into thin strips and removed the salsa topped crab cakes to a separate plate.  I decided to simply warm up the crab cakes, which was the best solution for us… we love crab cakes!  I then proceeded to make dinner.  Using 1T butter and 1T of flour, I made a roux, allowing the mixture to bubble a bit to cook out the flour taste.  Next came some wine, to extend the sauce.  In this case, I used a nice amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (that I already had open in the fridge) and about 3/4 of the same amount of Reserve Chardonnay (that I also had open in the fridge).  The sauce now was slightly pink and needed a bit of seasoning… some simple salt and pepper worked nicely.

I now had a sauce but felt that it wasn’t quite enough.  I added the serving of scalloped potatoes to the mixture and squished it down (great cooking term, eh?) to allow the butter and cheese in the potatoes to add some richness to the sauce while the potatoes (when smashed) added depth.  After stirring the mixture a bit, I added the beef strips and sauce to finish the dish.  For leftovers, this was looking pretty amazing!  I did add some more Chardonnay to thin out the sauce, since the potatoes had cooked a bit and added a little too much depth.  Once everything tasted “right”, I plated this over some brown rice and added the warmed crab cakes on the side.  It was a perfect amount for two and my husband’s question of “what is this?” was just the line I needed to feel fabulous when I replied:

“Oh, it’s just leftovers”

See if you can come up with a way to use your leftovers in your own version of a Recipe Redux… you might be pleasantly surprised with what you create if you just think outside the box!

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