June 10, 2006
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Product, Not Leftovers

How My Cooking Has Changed : part 5

Saving dishes you didn't finish generates leftovers, and leftovers are usually dull. First, the food was usually better the first time. Second, you just had that! It was a treat the first time, but the second time is repetition.

But saving labor-intensive intermediate products -- stocks and braises and sauces -- gives you a nice launching pad for easily turning out something new. Often, that can be something small and luxurious that would be too costly or too difficult to undertake for its own sake. Instead of leftovers, you get a second special meal.

Last Sunday, we had duck confit with savory cherry compote and basil mashed potatoes. Last night, I had one leg of duck confit left from last Sunday night's feast. Now, duck confit takes a few hours to make; it's not something you whip up for a Thursday night dinner, especially not when you spent an extra hour at Eastgate coding a new Tinderbox feature.

Of course, this last leg was left because it was the scraggliest and least presentable. So I boned the leg, coarsely chopped the meat, and heated in a dry non-stick pan for about fifteen minutes.

I took two corn tortillas and toasted them quickly in another dry skillet. Brushed each with a little hoisin sauce. Sprinkled them with chopped scallions, and then with the duck.