Left overs for real

Was I imagining it, or did the newspapers seem to be bombarding us with articles about how to make use of our seasonal leftovers before we´d even cooked our Christmas dinner? Leftovers are becoming so fashionable among the foodie journos these days.But lets get one thing straight - what is a leftover?
Leftovers are the uneaten edible remains of a meal after the meal is over,and everyone has finished eating(basically, items of food that you have cooked too much of).These items do not include sausages that you have not yet cooked, but have apparently been over purchased and therefore escaped the Wednesday supper.People seem to think cheese and cured meats, like slices of ham, are left overs.No they are not, and neither is a tin of plum tomatoes that hasn´t been opened. Journalists and TV chefs are are telling us how to cook things that we have simply over purchased and if you listen to them, very often it is necessary to go shopping again to create a leftover recipe.Well I feel very disappointed, but worthy too, that this year we had no left overs apart from a few roast vegetables, gravy and carcass which all went to make some great soup.Now we are open for business again,I am starting to accrue left overs either from guests requesting small portions or not being able to portion control when cooking for one.The thespian´s home cured ham is now coming to the end of its life, and therefore what it is going to create I definitely constitute as left overs.Last night I knocked up a classic left over dish of Chicken, ham and leek pie. A traditional turkey or chicken and ham pie contains lots of vegetable and is the perfect 'use up' dish. You can add almost any veg, you have to hand, to your pie and along with a good (and I'm talking "good to big") knob of butter and a tablespoon of Creme Fraiche D'Isigny - my favourite creme fraiche.  The D'Isigny type has a lovely savouriness about it that comes from a slight hint of cheesiness - which goes so, so well with savoury dishes.
The only thing I did not have, and actually had to purchase to make this dish, was a leek. Ready rolled puff pastry was in the fridge, and the ham as I said came from the thespians prize cure.The chicken was left over from a one pot chicken casserole I had cooked for the guest who wanted only a small portion.With the help of the dregs of a bottle of white wine and the already opened tub of creme fraiche I was able to unleash a sumptuous and creamy meat pie bubbling with left over goodness.Tonight we are having the last remains of the ham tossed into a creamy wine sauce with peas and Fettucine (see below)

Left over Chicken ham and leek  pie (top)

  • 450ml/16fl oz chicken stock
  • 250g left over chicken pieces,breast thigh or drumstick chopped 
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 1 fat leek, trimmed and cut into 1cm/½in slices
  • 2 left over roasted garlic cloves, crushed out of their skin
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk
  • 2-3 tbsp white wine (optional)
  • 150ml/3fl oz creme fraiche
    2 tsp spoon Dijon mustard
  • 150g/5oz piece thickly carved left over ham, cut into 2cm chunks
  • Flor de sal to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
Melt 25g/1oz of the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the leek and fry gently for two minutes, stirring occasionally until just softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the remaining butter and stir in the flour as soon as the butter has melted. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Slowly pour the milk into the pan, just a little at a time, stirring well between each adding. Gradually add 250ml/10fl oz of the stock and the wine, if using, stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened slightly. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and mustard. Stir in the chicken and shredded ham. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Line a large rectangular pie dish with ready rolled puff pastry Portioning off enough pastry for the lid.
Spoon the chicken, ham and leek mixture into the pastry lined pie dishand smooth it out. Brush the rim of the dish with beaten egg. Roll out the reserved pastry for the lid.
Cover the pie with the pastry lid and press the edges together firmly to seal. Trim any excess pastry.
Cut a few horizontal cuts along the lid of the pie with the tip of a knife
to let the steam escape.Glaze the top of the pie with beaten egg. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the pie is golden-brown all over and the filling is piping hot. 

Fettucine with left over ham cream and peas
Serves 4
115g/4oz unsmoked  left over cooked ham
50g/2oz butter
2 shallots,very finely chopped
135g/3oz fresh or frozen peas
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
150ml/1/4 pint/2/3 cup double cream
350g/12oz Fettucine
50g /172 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Cut the fat from the ham and chop both lean and fat parts separately into small squares.
Melt the butter in a medium frying pan and add the shallots,peas and the squares of ham fat.Cook until golden.Add the lean ham, and cook for 2 minutes more.Season with black pepper.Stir in the cream and keep warm over a low heat while the pasta is cooking.
boil the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water. Cook according to manufacturers instructions and drain when al dente.Turn into awarmed serving bowl,and toss with the sauce.Stir in the cheese and serve at once,garnished with the chopped parsley.


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