Beef ranks among the top choices for dinner. Its rich, complex flavors pair well with many seasonings and different cuts gain succulence and taste through grilling, braising, stewing, broiling, or slow cooking. Beef is also a substantial and filling food, so there is often extra beef at the end of the meal. Instead of just reheating it, you can transform it into another completely different dish through a variety of techniques and recipes.
Since beef is so versatile, take advantage of supermarket sales where large packages of different beef cuts are frequently discounted by as much as 50% and cook large batches to use in a variety of recipes throughout the month. Check out BigOven’s other ideas for using leftover chicken, pork, fish, and seafood.
The tenderest and tastiest oven beef roasts include standing rib, rib eye, tenderloin, and top loin, followed by round tip, bottom round, eye of round, and tri-tip. Leftovers from these roasts are perfect for beef stroganoff, beef burgundy, and braised beef tips, as well as for stir fry dishes, steak salads, and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. For optimum tenderness, cut the extra beef into steak-size slices and then cut them across the grain into strips or chunks for the recycling recipes.
Traditionally cooked in a slow cooker or covered pot at low heat with potatoes, carrots, and onions, pot roast is good made with roast cuts such as chuck, 7-bone, and round that have good marbling. Properly cooked pot roast falls apart at the touch of a fork, offers minimal chewiness, and bursts with flavor on the palate. Extra pot roast makes great sandwich filling when mixed with the juices in the pot or lightly tossed with homemade or store bought beef gravy. Shredded leftover pot roast seasoned with cumin and hot pepper flakes is a tasty taco, burrito, tamale, empanada, or enchilada filling or an excellent topping for taco salad.
These cuts are typically cooked to order and so luscious there are rarely leftovers. Since these cuts are so perfect, they are best used as close to their original cooking state as possible. Thinly slice them, roll into pinwheels, and top with a dot of prepared horseradish and a crisp bacon bit for elegant appetizers. Take sliders to a whole new level with thinly sliced, medium-rare pieces of steak on tiny buns and simply dressed with a slice of cherry tomato and a sprinkling of kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. For the best chicken fried steak, slice the extra steak into medium-thick slices, dip in beaten egg, dredge in seasoned flour, and quick fry in a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
These cuts are naturally a little tough, so extras benefit from slow cooking. Cut them into 1- or 2-inch pieces and use them in beef stew, vegetable soups, or ragout. Leftovers can also be thoroughly chilled and minced in a food processor or meat grinder to thicken and flavor soups and sauces. If the leftovers are still rare, marinate them and recycle in stir frys or cut them into small pieces and use as a base for a breakfast roast beef hash.
Leftover cooked ground beef patties are one of the easiest beef varieties to recycle. Crumble them into a pot and make Sloppy Joes with sautéed onions, bell peppers, and tomato sauce, cooking the mixture slowly to thicken it and intensify the flavors. Use extra ground beef patties in chili, soup, lasagna sauce, and spaghetti sauce. Whip up a quick Joe’s Special brunch dish or late night snack with leftover ground beef cooked with spinach, garlic, onions, beaten eggs, and your favorite spices. Extra ground beef is ideal as the base for an old-fashioned, comforting shepherd’s pie.
Leftover beef dishes make good toppings. Extra chili transforms simple hot dogs into Coney Island dogs when additionally dressed with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped fresh onions, and diced tomatoes. Leftover chili is also good as a hamburger, omelet, or nacho topping. Remove the vegetables from extra beef stew, chop the beef into small pieces, mix with the stew gravy, and serve atop mashed potatoes or rice for a new entrée. The same technique transforms leftover beef burgundy into a perfect filling for light, crispy puff pastry shells. Toss leftover Sloppy Joe mixture into chili or spaghetti sauce and adjust the seasonings to integrate the flavors.
To keep your meals creative and unique throughout the week, use BigOven’s menu planner. You can plan all your meals to include a variety of ingredients and create a shopping list at the same time to minimize trips to the market and have more time for yourself.