What To Do?

People like leftovers. If they didn’t, why would there be so many websites about them?

Nearly nine years on, my infamous leftover sauerkraut post still pulls in views–as I write this, so far this year, that post has been seen six times more often than anything I’ve written in 2022*.

* Granted, the numbers are somewhat skewed, because most of the readers see new posts on the blog’s home page, so they don’t get counted as views for the individual post. But the point stands: leftover sauerkraut gets looked for hugely more often than anything else on the blog.

And it’s great that so many people are willing to help their fellows repurpose the stuff in those half-empty containers in the back of the fridge. But unused ingredients are one thing; complete dishes are another.

Turkey can go into sandwiches, soup, tacos, and a dozen other things. Extra cheese has roughly ten thousand uses (beer and cheddar soup, anyone?) But what are you going to do with the last of the turkey soup after you’ve had it for three days straight? Freezing it just kicks the decision down the road. And the example of Chopped notwithstanding, most of us aren’t prepared to repurpose a complete main course into something totally new.

We ran into a double dilemma of this sort recently.

The chili was bad enough. As has been noted previously, our chili tends toward a souplike nature. That makes it impractical to do chili burgers (or dogs) or put it on baked potatoes. I suppose we could make ice cream, but (a) there’s significant cognitive dissonance there and (b) we don’t have an ice cream maker.

But the Mac and Cheese? It’s really a monolithic dish, not amenable to breaking down into its components.

When in doubt, go with the classics: “embrace the power of ‘and'”. Pour chili over the mac’n’cheese.

The train of logic went something like this: tomato and pasta is a classic combination; cheddar cheese goes well in chili; and, hey, in Cincinnati they put chili on spaghetti. Okay, maybe that last isn’t a good precedent: can we really trust the judgement of an area that thinks cinnamon is a mandatory spice in chili?

But, we mixed our cinnamon-free, bean-laden chili with our vegetable-free m&c. And it worked. Got two large pots out of the fridge.

Somehow it had escaped both of our notices that chili mac and cheese is a thing. I won’t tell you how long it took us to figure that one out.

So we recreated the wheel.

But this “throw two meals together” notion has possibilities. Clearly we need to experiment further.

Fauxtisserie Chicken and potato soup? Could work.

But rest assured we will not be adding sauerkraut to mac and cheese.

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