Brooks Bites: You Shouldn’t Have Leftovers, But You Do – St Paddy’s Edition

by Tom Brooks, Elmhurst Funion Food and Dining Editor

ELMHURST – Now that St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, it’s time to tackle one of the greatest challenges for a suburban chef:  what to do with all those leftovers.  I’m talking about the mountains of boiled potatoes, stewed cabbage, and overcooked carrots in the refrigerator following St Patrick’s Day.

We all love a good New England Boil this time of year – and each of the six grocery stores in town does a fantastic job of shoving the loss-leader pickled brisket in our faces for at least three weeks before Drunken Leprechaun Day – but we inevitably over-prepare.   And although most of us will never forget Aunt Eileen finishing off that bottle of Jameson and the table dance that followed, none of us remembered the excessive volume of food prepared for Paddy’s Day last year and of course piled it on once more for 2019.

So, what do we do with all the corned beef and trimmings taking up valuable real estate in the fridge?  Besides waiting until the middle of April and throwing it all away, there are other options.  And I’m going to share some of them with you.

Starting with the corned beef, as the solution is the easiest.  You eat it.

Seriously, how do you have leftover corned beef?  I suppose it’s possible that everyone passed out before it was finished, but then you toss a fried egg on it in the morning and keep shoveling it in.  There should never be any corned beef left by the end of lunch on the 18th.  If there is, you don’t food correctly and you should probably stop reading.  But don’t stop reading, because there are advertisements below and I don’t get paid unless you see them all.

Potatoes are also pretty easy to utilize.  As a fairly flavorless, colorless, and shapeless entity, cooked potatoes can be snuck into just about anywhere.  Making soup?  Toss a handful of boiled spuds into the blender to thicken things up.  Whipping up some banana-coconut smoothies?  Same deal.  Ran out of mayonnaise?  Spread some smashed taters on that ham and Swiss and keep rocking out the lunch prep.  Crack in the wall from where someone hit their head when Clog Dancing went awry?  Mashed potatoes will spackle that almost as well as cream of wheat.

Dealing with cabbage can get tricky.  Mostly because cabbage is kinda gross.  But it’s the only thing our starving ancestors had, so now it’s traditional, and there’s 13 cubic feet of it taking up beer storage space in the refrigerator.

You can always to go the Thanksgiving route and just make cabbage versions of everything like I would for the week and a half worth of turkey remnants:  cabbage soup, cabbage stew, cabbage marmalade, cabbage coffee-creamer, cabbage contact solution…

But there are some international solutions to an excess of cabbage as well.  Many cultures around the world utilize various fermentation methods to extend the lifespan and viability of cabbage.

Take Korean cooking for example.  Season that leftover cabbage with salt and hot peppers, stuff it into a bamboo vessel, and bury it in the back yard.  That wicker basket full of outdated seed catalogs in your living room should work well enough.  After a period of time, the Koreans unearth the bamboo vessel, which by now has fermented into Kimchi (a spicy and tangy condiment that can add depth and flavor to most any savory dish).

Don’t do that though.  Just leave it in the ground.  The smell should dissipate by summer and you can forget about that disastrous culinary experimentation and just buy sauerkraut in a can like a normal suburbanite.

All that’s left now are those mushy carrots the recipe said to add to the giant kettle you boiled the beef in.  Um, yeah.  Throw those away. Those aren’t meant to be eaten.  They just flavor the water.   I don’t know why people put those on the table.  You boiled a vegetable for FOUR HOURS; there is no longer any redeemable nutritional or epicurean value in them.  Why would you serve them?

I hope everyone had a Happy St Patrick’s Day, and remember:  Craic is good times, Crack kills.

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