Before this month started, I made a list of some of the meals I make that always use something leftover. While I’m sharing several of those ideas throughout the month, I also wanted to challenge myself to use leftovers in a completely new way. I thought about the proteins that might result in leftovers, and honestly, burgers aren’t usually one of them for me at home. I make dinner for two unless I purposely want leftovers. But how many times have you seen the plate of burgers after a BBQ that no one has touched? Like when the BBQ was planned, we suddenly thought every attendee might eat 2 burgers, 3 hot dogs, a bag of chips, a pound of potato salad, 16 cookies and a quarter sheet cake. I mean I could do it…
I do remember serving stuffed burgers at a family gathering at my house and having a few leftover and turning them into the best taco ever. This time, I decided to go for something completely unexpected. That where I ended up turning burgers to into Bolognese sauce with spaghetti.
A traditional bolognese is a sauce made with beef, tomato, onion, garlic, and herbs – with other optional additions to make for a richer sauce. Including wine, pork and / or bacon. My burgers were beef AND bacon. While being stuffed with, and covered in, cheese doesn’t make for a typical bolognese sauce, it still worked. With the addition of fresh veggies, tomato sauce, and herbs, this became a rich, delicious sauce for my spaghetti. I only had 2 leftover burgers and this made enough sauce to serve 4.
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2-4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves of garlic or 1 heaping teaspoon pre-diced garlic
- 2 leftover hamburgers or cheeseburgers, diced
- 2 slices of bacon, if there’s no bacon on/in the burger – diced into small pieces
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 16 oz can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup whole milk
- fresh thyme
- salt, to taste
If your burgers did not include bacon, add oil and bacon to a heavy bottom pan and heat until the bacon is not quite crispy. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook until softened and slightly browned. Next, add the chopped burgers. The meat is already cooked, so stir to combine with the vegetables. Add tomato paste, coating as much as possible in the pan. Then, add the tomato sauce, wine, and milk, and stir to combine. The sauce will look very chunky and thin. Add fresh thyme branches to the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce before adding any salt, and remove thyme branches before serving. While the burgers are salted, with some new ingredients at the party, you may only need a little salt. Sauce will be thick – serve over pasta and tell me if you have any idea there’s a leftover cheeseburger in it!
A few other ideas for leftover hamburgers that aren’t just a reheated hamburger:
1). Cheeseburger pizza. Use either store bought or homemade dough. No sauce is needed; drizzle a little olive oil onto the crust before adding toppings. Add chopped burgers, cheese, pickles (YES PICKLES), onions, or any other toppings you like on a burger. Maybe more bacon? After baking, mix mustard & ketchup together and drizzle over the pizza. Add diced tomato & lettuce.
2). Tacos. Tacos are my favorite all-purpose meal reinvention. Literally anything can be a taco. For ground beef tacos, I prefer to mix ground beef with refried beans, taco seasoning, and a touch of taco sauce. Chop up extra hamburger and heat in a skillet. Add the canned beans and taco seasoning, and a little taco sauce to thin out the beans. If you’ve used a stuffed burger, the “extras” make this sauce filling even better. Once the beans are bubbling a little, your meat is ready. Serve with tortillas, cheese, and your favorite taco fixings.
I made one other meal this week with the intentions of using leftovers later in the month! Just a fairly simple Dutch Oven roast beef, with potatoes and carrots. This was the Easter dinner in our house! I loosely followed this technique and recipe, searing the roast on the stovetop, deglazing with wine, and braising the meat by itself first. After about 90 minutes, I added only enough carrots and potatoes for one meal. Once the veggies were tender, I added the beurre manié (butter and flour) to thicken the delicious gravy.
Growing up, my favorite meals were steak & baked potatoes on the grill, or roast beef & potatoes for an oven meal. Or roast beast, as I called it. I love the tender carrots and potatoes cooked with the roast. Until it came time to eat the leftovers the next day and the potatoes just got weird. Maybe mashed potatoes would be fine, but there something about the taste of a day old potato cooked in broth that just doesn’t do it for me. So I purposely only made a few potatoes and carrots and the rest of the roast will appear later in this month’s menu. I had up to 3 different meals planned for the leftovers, but my roast was a little smaller so I have to pick 2.
I served the roast with copycat Cheesecake Factory brown bread, because I love carbs.
After a few weeks of no Half Baked Harvest recipes, it was time to dive back in to my cookbooks.
First – salted brioche cinnamon rolls. These rolls were AMAZING. The cream cheese icing was amped up with browned butter, and topped with a little sea salt. I had some black vanilla sea salt that I bought in Maine – and I am pretty sure these rolls were it’s intended purpose
I also made slow cooker butter chicken. I’ve been craving Indian and this recipe satisfied that craving. There were a few ingredients I don’t normally keep stocked – coconut milk and red curry paste – so while I had my eye on this recipe for awhile, I had to wait until I could get the right groceries delivered! Overall, very simple and delicious served over rice. And with garlic naan from Jessica Gavin. The naan was restaurant quality and very easy to make.
Because making brown bread, cinnamon rolls, and naan just wasn’t enough carbs, I used the last of my bread flour to make another batch of bagels from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I added cheddar cheese to the dough, and topped the bagels with cheddar, romano, and a salt & pepper blend.
The last kitchen project of the week wasn’t quite as fun. Cleaning out my spice cabinets. My cabinet is narrow and awkward and overly stuffed. While I made some progress, now I’m on the hunt for the right device so I can see my options when I open the cabinet!
We ended the week with takeout pizza. As much as I like to cook, by Friday, I am ready for a treat! Next week I’ll be working through a lot of the leftover protein that’s stashed in the freezer.