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Loving Leftovers: New Uses for Leftover Barbecue

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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That's My Story, and I'm Sticking With It

I grew up in the 1950s. My parents were young adults during the Great Depression, so they valued all of the blessings that we had—time, money, shelter, and food on the table.

We had one car (very used), a 60-year-old house (that was always in need of repair), a vegetable garden (to supplement food on the table), and a menu rotation that was so predictable you pretty much knew what day of the week it was by stepping into the kitchen rather than looking at the calendar.

Heavy on carbs, light on meat, but liberally dosed with love. Mealtime was not the time for instant-messaging, surfing the net, or playing Candy Crush. Of course, those things didn't exist, but even if they had, I know that they would not have been present at our dinner table. We talked. We shared the day's stories and memories of long ago. We laughed, and we loved one another.

What's the Point of This Story?

Simply stated, we cherished our mealtimes not only for the food but for the togetherness. Times were tough, but we were tougher. No food was wasted (I think it was a sin against the 11th Commandment), but we didn't have "leftovers." We had "planned-overs." That's the way I was raised and the method I use in my own kitchen, even 60+ years later.

This is my fifth article in what I plan as a regular first-day-of-the-month series on using leftovers in a thoughtful, frugal, and tasty way. The first installment focused on leftover mashed potatoes, the next month on meatloaf, then stale bread. Last month the topic was too much zucchini.

As I write this, we are nearing the end of the summer barbecue season. Let's explore some imaginative ways of using up those bits of leftover beef, pork, or chicken.

Recipe Ideas

  • The Perfect Starters
    • Carb Diva’s Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce
    • Perfect Pork Ribs
    • Perfect Pulled Pork
    • Perfect Beef Brisket
    • Perfect Chicken
  • Cobb Salad
  • Cuban Grilled Cheese
  • Nachos
  • Pizza
  • Pulled Pork Loaded Fries
  • Spaghetti Casserole
  • Street Tacos
Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce

Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce

Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce

Before we can find the perfect use for barbecue leftovers, we need to create the perfect barbecue meats. Here's my "world famous" recipe for a low-sodium sauce. It's full of flavor but doesn't contain all the salt and preservatives lurking in bottled sauces.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low sodium tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a deep (high-sided) saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30 minutes. Be sure to keep the heat as low as possible and stir often so that it does not scorch.

Perfect Grilled Ribs, Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket and BBQ Chicken

Pork Ribs

Want the best ribs? Guess what, it's not about the sauce? Preparation, a nice dry rub, and (are you ready for this) bake before you grill. Trust me. WrittenReality provides the how-tos for best ribs.

Pulled Pork

Or perhaps pulled pork is your thing. The perfect pulled pork won't get near a grill. Low and slow is the way to go baby, and "KevinAndAmanda" will show you how. I have just one suggestion to add to their almost perfect instructions. Disposable foil roasting pans are flimsy and (in my view) verging on dangerous. Please, if you use this recipe, opt for a real roasting pan. Otherwise, this is spot-on!

Beef Brisket

Where's the beef? If brisket is your protein of choice, LetsDishRecipes has a perfect low-and-slow recipe, and you don't need a smoker. A dry rub, a touch of liquid smoke, and your favorite sauce go into the crockpot, and 8 hours later, you have a no-knife-needed brisket.

Chicken

What if you eschew red meat? Most recipes for barbecued chicken rely on the oven for the perfect poultry. ThePauperedChef shows us how to do it correctly, perfectly on the grill.

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad

Cobb salad traditionally features chopped cooked chicken breast, tomatoes, avocado and blue cheese. Spice up your ordinary "cobb" by adding barbecued chicken, grilled corn, and crisp vegetables for a salad that will be your new summertime favorite.

Cuban Grilled Cheese

Cuban Grilled Cheese

Cuban Grilled Cheese

Take your Cuban sandwich to the next level with leftover barbecued pork and melty cheese. Your tummy will thank you for it.

Nachos

Nachos

Nachos

Damn Delicious creates a party-sized platter of nachos with homemade chips and leftover shredded pork. Don't have pork? You could easily substitute beef or chicken. The only limit is your imagination.

Pizza

Pizza

Pizza

Pulled pork pizza is so simple, you really don't need a recipe at all (but I'll share one with you here). Leftover barbecued meat, mozzarella, pre-made pizza crust, bacon, onion, and a few minutes of baking in the oven. Ta-da!

Pulled Pork Loaded Fries

Pulled Pork Loaded Fries

Pulled Pork Loaded Fries

If you are a Canadian or from Wisconsin, once lived there, know someone who lived there, or traveled to either of those places you have been lucky enough to discover poutine. Poutine—the cholesterol nightmare, a guilty pleasure that I have requested as my last meal.

This dish of fries, pulled pork, and cheese isn't poutine but might be considered her cousin from the South. This is so amazingly good, but you might want to check with your physician before consuming. You've been warned.

Spaghetti Casserole

Spaghetti Casserole

Spaghetti Casserole

If you love pulled pork (and who doesn't) you probably think it's perfect just as it is. But what if you added cheese? Now, what if you add cheese and pasta. Now, THAT'S perfection!

Street Tacos

Street Tacos

Street Tacos

This isn't just any ordinary taco. The author of HowSweetEats provides a recipe for cooking short ribs. Assuming that you have leftover grilled meat you can, of course, skip that step. The magic comes with the contrast of tastes and textures—crisp green cabbage, bright lime zest, and creamy tangy queso fresco. Street tacos fit for company.

© 2018 Linda Lum

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