Pork, duck or chicken leftover roast can be transformed into a lovely new dish: rissoles with apple and cheese. Like meatballs, only using up cooked meat.
Processed vs. ultra-processed
Here’s to processed foods: some of the best dishes cannot be called by any other name.
I’ve been thinking about all this processing of food and feel more and more like a piggy in the middle. On one hand the simplest foods are the healthiest; processing invariably involves adding salt, sugar and various extras to bulk out or improve the flavour.
The real villains are industry-produced ready meals and snacks. On top of salt and sugar they have all their E-numbers, various -ose, -ine or -ate substances making it seem like you’re about to eat the content of a chemistry lab. A no-brainer case of ‘bad for you’.
But processing also means simply cooking so we’re in danger of getting caught up in the whole concept of ‘processed food’.
Processing food? I call it cooking
Cooking is good, nobody will argue. But processing is good too as it minimises waste.
I can’t imagine many families eat up their roast to the tiniest morsel on the day it’s served, unless the family chef is majorly stingy. I bet in eight cases out of ten the remnants get chucked out bar a few slices for reluctant sandwiches.
With a bit of good will and twenty minutes of our time in the kitchen it needn’t be so.
Rissoles used to mean to me school dinner type of food: bland, mushy and insipid. Not so, you can easily make them as spiced up as you wish.
Any meat goes - literally. Probably fish leftovers wouldn’t be that good though I sense a challenge.
If you add cheese, you needn’t bulk it out with bread/potatoes that much, and what can’t be improved by a bit of cheese thrown in?
Processed foods - some are definitely the best stuff you can eat. Just do the processing yourself.
What kind of meat is good for rissoles?
Any cooked meat is perfectly suitable for rissoles. Any leftover roast, be it beef, pork, poultry or game, and the beauty of it is that you can use the fatty bits nobody wanted at the original table. Or the drumsticks that are always left behind.
But that’s not the end. If you cook a chicken soup from a chicken carcass or make stock or broth from bones, there is always some meat left clinging to them or to the carcass. Take the little time it needs to pick those bits of meat and you’ll have a new meal magicked out of next to nothing.
How to mince the meat?
If you have a food processor, blitz the meat in it. It will basically make the mix for you since you can process (see what I’m doing here?) it with the onion, apple, bread or breadcrumbs and cheese, if using. No chopping or dicing necessary.
If you, like me, are a believer in old-fashioned meat mincer (or have the mincer attachment to an appliance), pass it all through, watching your fingers on one end and the satisfying strands of varying textures emerging on the other.
If neither is available, you’ll have to get chopping, and shred the meat as finely as you can with a knife. If the meat is tender, it won’t be hard at all but lean beef might be a little tricky. On the other hand you can add more gelling ingredients to the beef and enjoy a variety of textures.
What ingredients holds rissoles together?
The fatter the meat, the better it will hold together. Make sure though that it’s nice clean fat, not any horrible gristle or rind.
Next gluing agent is egg, but don’t add more than necessary or the mix will be too fluid to shape.
Parmesan is a fantastic cement for all kinds of meatballs and it works well here too. Plus bread, soaked in water then squeezed out. Frankly, no idea why but handling bread that way is the best for the purpose.
Fry or bake?
Even with the fat, the egg and the cheese added to the mix, rissoles tend to crack and crumble so the best way of cooking them is to briskly shallow fry them. The meat is cooked, after all.
If you want to bake or air fry them, make sure the mix is very cohesive, they are shaped tightly and chilled thoroughly before cooking.
More recipes for using leftover meat
Moroccan lamb pastillas are shaped like cigars with leftover lamb wrapped in filo pastry. Inspired by Jamie Oliver's recipe, these lamb pastillas are served with a yoghurt harissa dip.
Stuffed peppers with rice and leftover cooked chicken meat. Stuffed peppers bake for 40 – 50 minutes and the recipe needs only a small amount of meat.
Greek lamb, spinach and feta filo pastry pie, using leftover roast lamb, is better than the original roast. A spanakopita bulked out with shredded roast lamb, this pie can be lunch, dinner, snack or a party dish.
More mince recipes
Crispy pork mince, kidney beans and Romaine lettuce salad with mixed toasted seeds. Caramelised pork crumbs are the next best thing since crispy bacon!
Baked yellow courgettes stuffed with minced lamb and tomatoes, topped with grated cheese. Large yellow courgettes are much easier to fill with stuffing.
Meatball casserole with tomato sauce, Italian style. The recipe is easily scaled up to feed a crowd, the meatball casserole can be served over pasta, rice or with crusty bread. Hearty meatball casserole with zucchini and peppers.