Once the table has been cleared and the dishwasher stacked, I collect the bones, tear off the remaining meat, and consider tomorrow’s dinner. I cherish the leftovers of Sunday lunch. The roasted bones, golden jelly and roasting juices left behind are as useful as the meat itself. It is easiest to separate everything while it is still slightly warm, before they end up in the fridge. Every bit will go towards a soup or an impromptu pasta sauce.
What the cooked bones lack in marrow content, they make up for with the sweet caramelised notes they pick up in the oven. A straightforward, no-frills blueprint for using up the remains of the day can be to make a stew with stock, celery, shallots and carrots, then stir in cooked beans and lastly some of the cold roast meat. You can freshen the dark juices with a spoonful of yogurt, mint leaves, sumac and orange zest. It is, I think, crucial to add the meat only at the end of cooking. It needs simply to warm.
Chicken needs treating particularly thoughtfully as it really doesn’t appreciate a second cooking. Rather than any attempt at a soup, I use the roasted meat in plump, juicy pieces in a salad. During the first fizz of spring I toss cold chicken with asparagus and a basil dressing or with young leeks that I have brushed with oil, grilled and tossed with lemon and young fennel. If the weather is less than clement, as it can be in early spring, I make a golden broth with the bones then add not just tiny pasta, such as orzo, but fistfuls of chopped mint and parsley, grated lemon zest and tiny cooked broad beans and peas, then ladle the result, steaming and fragrant, over thick slices of grilled bread.
Asparagus and chicken with basil dressing
I try to take the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before I use it in a salad. The dressing is best made at the last minute, in order to keep the basil green and fragrant.
roast chicken 350g
For the dressing
garlic 3 cloves
olive oil 8 tbsp
pine kernels 4 tbsp
lemon juice of half
Put a deep pan of water in to boil. Tear the roast chicken into large pieces and put them in a mixing bowl. Trim the asparagus, discarding any of the less than tender ends, then cut into short lengths, about 3 or 4 per stalk.
As the water comes to the boil, salt lightly then add the asparagus and let it cook for 6 or 7 minutes, until the spears are tender to the bite. Drain carefully and place on kitchen paper.
Make the dressing by putting the basil leaves and their stems into a blender or food processor. Pull leaves from the parsley and add them to the basil, then do the same with the mint.
Peel the garlic and slice it finely. Warm a couple of tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and cook over a gentle heat, until the garlic is pale gold and fragrant. Add the pine kernels and, watching carefully, let them brown lightly, then remove from the heat.
Put the asparagus into the bowl with the chicken. Add the garlic, pine kernels and their oil to the herbs in the blender then process to a rough paste, pouring in the remaining olive oil as you go. Lastly add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Pour the herb dressing in with the chicken and asparagus and fold the ingredients gently together. Transfer to a dish and serve.
Lamb with za’atar and yogurt
Make a good, deeply flavoured liquor with stock, aromatics and the bones from the roast, then add carrots, cooked dried beans and the large pieces of roast lamb you have torn from the bones. Freshen with yogurt and mint. To turn this into a quick supper, you could use canned beans instead of dried.
dried black-eyed beans 150g
dried flageolet beans 150g
celery 2 ribs
shallots 16, small
carrots 8, small
olive oil 3 tbsp
za’atar 2 tbsp
roast lamb 500g of leftovers
chicken stock 1 litre
mint leaves a handful
Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Put them in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil and keep them boiling for 10 minutes, then lower to a simmer and let them cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are almost tender. When they are ready, drain and set aside.
Roughly chop the celery. Peel the shallots. Scrub the carrots. Warm the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based casserole over a moderate heat then add the celery and shallots and cook until the shallots are pale gold. Sprinkle in the za’atar and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
Tear the roast lamb from the bone, setting the meat aside and putting the bones in with the vegetables. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for half an hour, add the carrots then continue for a further 30 minutes until you have dark broth.
Stir in the cooked and drained beans and the roast lamb and continue cooking for 20 minutes until thoroughly hot. Check the seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls, serve with yogurt, mint and a sprinkle of sumac at the table.
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