I don't fire up the grill all that often, so when I do I try to make it count. That means cooking up mountains of beef, pork, chicken, and just about anything else I can get my hands on. As a result, I usually end up with leftovers, and a grilled steak just isn't the same the next day, but with a little know-how, yesterday's feast can taste just as good today. From a Japanese-inspired cold steak salad and smoky barbecue beans to pork fried rice, keep reading for eight of our favorite recipes to make the most of leftover grilled meat.
You can try to reheat leftover steak, but you're just going to end up overcooking it. A better option is to thinly slice and serve it cold, in this case with grilled or broiled corn and a Spanish-style salsa verde made with pickles, capers, anchovies, fresh parsley and mint, and lots of olive oil.
This cold steak salad is inspired by tataki, a Japanese dish of thinly sliced seared beef served with shoyu ponzu, a soy- and citrus-based dipping sauce. Our recipe takes rare or medium-rare steak and pairs it with thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers, scallions, and a ponzu vinaigrette. The yuzu juice used in a traditional ponzu is pricey, so we cut ours with lemon and lime juice.
Carpaccio is traditionally made with raw beef, but rare leftovers make a delicious version too. As with Niçoise salad, serving carpaccio as a composed salad makes for a pretty presentation but a subpar eating experience—we prefer to toss the arugula and red onion in a caper-studded vinaigrette before topping with beef and Parmesan so that every bite is perfectly balanced.
With the right technique, grilled chicken breast can be remarkably juicy when served fresh, but even perfectly grilled chicken will be pretty dry the next day. To breathe new life into the meat we massage it with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic and toss it with a tahini-based dressing. Shredded red cabbage and tons of fresh herbs add crunch and brightness to further revitalize the leftovers.
You can make a great pot of barbecue beans with bacon, but it will be even better if you used leftover smoked meat (beef, pork, and turkey all work wonderfully). These aren't sweet, molasses-laden beans—we lean to the savory side with onion, celery, garlic, paprika, cumin, and dried red chilies. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is letting the beans soak overnight, but if you have a pressure cooker you can skip that step and make the dish in two hours, from start to finish.
Even a relatively small pork shoulder can feed a dozen people, so any time I make pulled pork I end up with enough leftovers for several days. When I'm feeling lazy I'll crisp it up carnitas-style, but if I'm in the mood for a project I turn to these over-the-top mac-and-cheese and pulled pork wedges. To make them we layer cold macaroni with pulled pork, jalapeños, and extra cheese, cut it all into triangles, dip in cornbread batter, and fry until golden brown.
Who doesn't love a good leftovers sandwich? This one takes leg of lamb and layers it with tangy caciocavallo cheese, briny tapenade-spiked mayo, and spicy watercress on crusty toasted bread. We developed this sandwich to be made with roast lamb, but grilled lamb will work just as well.
Fried rice is my favorite way to use up leftovers—just about anything in the fridge can find a home in this versatile dish. This version is made with corn, shishito peppers, and whatever pork you have around (our coke- and pineapple-glazed ham would be perfect). As with all fried rice, be sure to cook in batches to keep the wok as hot as possible.
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