05 February 2013

Mmmm ... Leftovers

There's a definite art to eating well but economically. Although we're on fixed, if comfortable at present, incomes we're not ones for scrimping on food — well we do most of our shopping at Waitrose and although many of their staples are price matched with Tesco and Sainsbury, many items are also of superior quality (in our option) and thus a little more expensive. I'd rather have good food, that tastes of what it is, than cheap rubbish.

So we make a policy, as we always have especially with meat, fruit and veg, of buying what's in season, looks good and is affordably priced (even better if it's on offer). If possible we also avoid buying anything which has been shipped half-way round the globe. Why buy New Zealand lamb when we have plenty in this country? Why do we import asparagus from Peru and mange tout from Namibia just so we can eat them in January? European produce is fair game, but we'll always buy British if we can, and hardly ever from outside Europe. Isn't it better to enjoy these things from local farms when they're fresh and in season? And support our own farmers?

But there is another aspect to this art of eating well but economically: using what you have in the pantry to best effect and not unnecessarily throwing away leftovers. And that's what I did this evening.

Leftover Duck Kitchen-Sink Nosh Loaf

This is what my mother would have called "a nosh up", what school dinners would call "hash" and what a chef would call a "meat loaf". The way I made it is nearer to the latter.

What follows will fill a large loaf tin and feed 4-5 generously.

I used ...
  • remains of Sunday's roast duck (a leg, the wings and the scraps off the carcass)
  • large packet of stuffing mix
  • medium red onion
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • 12 or so green olives
  • a rather tired fennel
  • a good serving spoon of leftover cabbage
  • a very soft large slicing tomato
  • small dried chilli (optional)
  • dried mixed herbs, salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 generous tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • good splash Worc. sauce
  • 1 egg

This is what I did ...
  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 200C (180C if fan assisted)
  2. Put the stuffing mix in a large mixing bowl and add a good pinch of dried herbs, a big grind of fresh black pepper, a very little salt, the tomato paste, garlic paste and Worc. sauce
  3. Make up the stuffing mix with just enough boiling water, as per the packet, and leave it to cool a bit
  4. Take the meat off the duck and chop it up finely
  5. Also chop the tomato and leftover cabbage and add it to the duck
  6. Finely chop the garlic, olives, onion, fennel and chilli, and put in a pan with a good slug of olive oil; sweat this mixture until the onion is translucent
  7. At this point if you think the stuffing mix is too dry add a very tiny amount more water — not too much because the tomato will create quite a bit of moisture
  8. Now merge the duck mix, the stuffing mix and the onion mix, add the beaten egg to bind it, and mix it together well
  9. While all this has been happening your tame slave has greased the loaf tin (or equivalent) and, if you wish, lined it with baking parchment
  10. Turn the mixture into the loaf tin and press it down well
  11. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes; it's done when a knife poked into the middle of the tin comes out hot after 5 seconds
  12. Turn the "loaf" out onto a large plate and remove the baking parchment
  13. Serve in slices (well it may be a bit soft for that when it's hot) with potatoes, veg and sauce of your choice (we had it with garlic potatoes and steamed January King cabbage)

Notes ...
  1. This will eat deliciously cold too, and in sandwiches
  2. If you can keep it overnight to cool, and press it too, it'll be even better
  3. Basically you can use anything that's to hand as long as there is stuffing mix (or breadcrumbs) and some protein (meat or beans); it's your choice whether your ingredients work together
  4. You can vary this almost however you like and it is worth experimenting; more flavourful meats (like duck or smoked bacon) work especially well
  5. If you're of a mind you can even make pretty layers or patterns with the ingredients
  6. If you're using bacon in this, do go easy on the salt!
  7. The same mix can be used to stuff peppers or marrow, or could be cooked in a pastry case to make pie
  8. And if you really want to be economical you can use the duck bones etc. to make stock

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