Like many people, I have a ridiculously overfull freezer. Some of it is overflow from the 4-for-$10 Lean Cuisine special, but a lot more of it is leftovers. Odd and ends of things. Things I made, things I blanched and set aside for later use, things I meant to use and didn't get around to and froze raw in a panic. Last night we had some leftover braised short ribs with a side of paprika beans and broccoli. Broccoli was left over from Monday. Paprika beans are something I make to use up bacon and Rancho Gordos. And the short ribs? Were yummy. A great discovery. Though my husband became suspicious when I couldn't tell him exactly how long they'd been frozen. Yes, I should put dates on these things. At least I knew it couldn't be much more than a year since there wasn't anything in the freezer when we moved in.
Anyway, I was thinking also of restaurant leftovers, and how they don't always work out when you just try to reheat whatever it was, since it's not going to be as good as it was the night before. So, repurpose it. This is especially true of steak.
In this particular case, I was making steak sandwiches, and my strategy for that is to heat up the bun and caramelize some onions, but don't heat the steak itself -- let the heat of the other ingredients do the work.
But if you need to reheat restaurant steak, for sandwiches or otherwise, here's the trick. 15-second intervals. Blast in the microwave for a quarter of a minute, rest it til the minute's up. Blast, rest. Blast, rest. After maybe 5 repetitions of this for a small piece of steak, it'll be warm enough to enjoy, but not much more cooked through than the medium-rare you enjoyed the night before.
Okay, one more, then I'll shut up about enchiladas for a while.
Things I have put in enchiladas:
canned black beans with shredded chicken and roasted red peppers
Rancho Gordo yellow-eye beans, leeks, and leftover tarragon cream sauce
homemade ropa vieja with leftover frozen Trader Joe's lentils
BBQ chicken and homemade refried beans
frozen corn and white sweet potatoes
Rancho Gordo Christmas Limas and braised scallions
leftover pot roast and fresh tomatillos
Things I would totally try putting in enchiladas given half a chance:
pork shoulder cooked in sriracha and garlic (this is how I braise chicken thighs)
leftover fried chicken (deboned)
white beans and bacon
did I mention string cheese? just, like, a whole slab of it.
Obviously there are also various amounts and types of garlic, hot peppers, cheeses, chili powders, and whatnot involved. And there's no reason the sauce has to be tomato sauce, but that's generally how it goes.
So, I've been holding this one until yesterday's Intrepid Media column hit the web, because that piece explains a little bit about my recent obsession with enchiladas.
Thing is, they hit all my sweet spots.
they're versatile. You can put anything from black beans to pork belly into an enchilada, and it'll taste great. Texture, quantity, these things don't matter. It's an improvisational cook's dream.
they're affordable. Around here you can get 12+ corn tortillas for $1. The tortillas I referenced in yesterday's column involved $2 worth of beans and $1.50 of leeks as the main filling, and half a $3 jar of salsa. The other things I threw in (tomatoes, peppers, cream sauce, cheddar) were nearly free since they would have gone to waste otherwise, but even at a conservative estimate, that wasn't more than another $6 worth of ingredients. $12 max for 14 enchiladas (12th Street Cantina often throws a baker's dozen or more into an ostensible 12-pack.) And it can be done for less.
they're forgiving. Overstuff them? Not a problem. No time to cook them after they're assembled? Stick the whole thing in the fridge overnight and cook them the next day.
they keep. Leave them several days in the fridge as you take out servings one or two at a time; slip three into GladWare and freeze them for later use. They bounce back just fine, and reheating does very little damage.
Also, they're good for company, because they're easy to make ahead, and serve in portions of varying sizes. Plus, you can bring the whole delicious bubbling thing out to the table and serve from the dish.
Today I've got a column about food over at my other home, Intrepid Media. It's about the tension beteween a) trying to eat local, organic, and otherwise responsible foods, while b) having very little money to do so.