Panade from Leftovers

I feel as though history has been made here this week and I gotta admit I’m pretty stoked about it.  This is nothing short of ground-breaking and I think you’re going to be excited about it too. Wanna know why?  Of course you do.  It’s because I think I’ve solved the question of what to do with all of those leftovers cluttering up the fridge!  I realize that on the face of things that doesn’t sound all that earth-shattering, but bear with me, people.  This is HUGE!

I don’t know about you, but we seem to have LOTS of leftovers, and it just isn’t my favorite thing to open the fridge and see 16 different little containers of this and that and rice and pasta and veggies and meatballs and sauce or whatever.  I don’t like to waste food and throwing away perfectly good eats seems wrong on many levels.  And yet.  I rarely get excited about eating these leftovers and so I will admit that our chickens are often well fed. 

Sometimes I will just declare that “tonight is leftover night!” and we will each grab a container or two, heat it up and call it dinner.  As I said, not my favorite meal.  But that shall be no more!  No more leftover nights!  No more keeping leftovers in the back of the fridge until they’re inedible or just tossing them out to the chickens!  No sir! 

Now we have panade!!  Oh man, leftovers never ever tasted this good.  I found this recipe on the Kitchn website (do all of my recipes come from there?), and was of course instantly intrigued, but equally skeptical.

Oh, before I go any further, I better explain what a panade is.  It’s just anything baked with bread.  Or thickened with bread.  It’s very European and as it turns out, a very classy and delicious way to serve leftovers. 

I was particularly excited because I honestly and truly had like 7 containers of leftovers in the fridge and to test the viability of this idea, I wanted to use them all.  Nothing short of a complete clean-out would make this worth the effort.

So a quick inventory showed that I had a container of leftover Mexican meatballs in a chipotle-type sauce, a container of tortellini in marinara sauce, some gnocchi with tomatoes and chicken sausage, some creamy spinach with goat cheese, and a couple containers of leftover Indian food (saag and chana dal).  The recipe calls for 2-4 cups of leftovers and with everything except the Indian food, I had 4 cups.  I decided to save the Indian food for lunch the next day. 

I also had a nice loaf of Tuscan bread that would be perfect, so I cut that up into chunks and toasted it according to the recipe.  Now, the rest of the recipe sounded very French with all of the layering this and that and pouring the chicken broth over it all, but this is still leftover night in my house, and it’s gotta be quick and dirty, so this is what I did.  I got out a giant bowl, dumped everything in (bread chunks, leftovers, cheese and broth), stirred it up real good and dumped it into two baking dishes.  With just the two of us, I knew that if I put it into one baking dish as the recipe suggested, I would be faced with leftovers of our leftovers.  Sigh.  So one was for dinner that night and one was going into the freezer for one night next week.

Then I just popped those two pans into the oven, wondering all the while what chipotle tortellini gnocchi meatball Mexican spinach was going to taste like, but I needn’t have worried.

First of all, what emerged from the oven after baking looked so not like leftovers that I was immediately thrilled.  Secondly, it smelled divine, and thirdly, we absolutely could not believe how delicious it was.  The tops of the bread chunks got a little brown and crisp and the under parts were soft and so delicious and much to my amazement, all those oddly different flavors baked into a lovely cohesive dish and it was all so good, that I’m very happy to report… there were no leftovers!  Here’s the recipe…

Panade from Leftovers

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

As I explained in the blog post, you can use ANY combination of leftovers in this.  Don’t be afraid – clean out the fridge! (I do think that leftover meat and veggies might work best in here, but it's fun to experiment).  If you’d like to make this a little more complicated and fancy, click on the link above for The Kitchn version.  If you only have 2 cups of leftovers, use the smaller amount of bread and cut back on the chicken broth to about 3 ½ cups.  And if you feel your leftovers might benefit from it, you can sauté some onions to mix in with them and add some wilted spinach or other greens if you like. If you're using this recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers and have stuffing on hand, just use that instead of the bread.

What you’ll need…

About 12 to 16 ounces of bread (an unsliced rustic loaf works best)

2-4 cups of leftovers

1 cup of grated cheese (any cheese will do - I used dill Havarti and parmesan)

4 cups of chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Cut the bread into one-inch chunks and place on a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a good sprinkling of salt.  Use your hands to mix it up a bit and then place it in the oven.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the bread is nicely toasted.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  (This can be done a day ahead of time).

To assemble…

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl mix together the leftovers, toasted bread cubes, grated cheese and chicken broth.  Stir well and pat down into the baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes (see note below).  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Note:  if you are making a smaller amount of panade or have split this into 2 smaller baking dishes, you only need to bake it for about 30-35 minutes before removing the foil.

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