As I’ve mentioned before, I wage a continuous battle against food waste. Now more than ever, with my new goal to Simplify, and with it endeavor for more meaning and less cost, this battle becomes even more important. Waste not, want not, as has often been said. And so true that. Less waste means more savings, extra cash to spend on a much loved pleasure, less junk clogging our landfills and waterways…and it can also mean a delicious treat if you know your way around leftovers!
One of my mom’s favorite ways to give new life to leftovers was to turn them into croquetas (also known as croquettes). Everything from leftover mince to smoked milkfish (yes, that’s tinapang bangus!) would find their way into my mom’s croquetas. As children, we loved these little breaded logs of soft potatoes and tasty bits of meat. We couldn’t care less if they were leftovers. They were delicious and that’s all our young minds needed to know.
Just as you can’t predict what and how much leftovers you will find yourself with on any given day, I don’t have an exact recipe for these croquetas (just as I don’t have one for this cottage pie). Simply put, this is what I do: I take whatever leftovers I have, whether it’s fish, mince, pork chops, longanisa (a local sausage) leftover from breakfast, or even vegetables (roasted vegetables would be awesome in this), and I shred/chop it to smallish bits. Then, depending on how much meat/veggies I have I take a couple, or more, potatoes and boil until soft, then mash. For these croquetas pictured I actually used leftover mashed potatoes (extra points for more leftovers used!). I then season the mixture with salt and pepper. You can add any other seasoning you’d like — have you got some extra herbs lying around that need using? Chop them up and add them in! Add cumin and chili for a Mexican flavor, or soy sauce, sesame oil, and cilantro for something more oriental. Some cheese would also be delicious if this fits the combination of flavors you’ve got going so far (think chorizo, smoked paprika, and cheese…MMM!). Then add an egg and mix well. I just eyeball the mixture to see whether I add one or two eggs…but mostly one egg is good enough, leftovers usually not being all that much to begin with. I add all the seasoning before the egg so I can taste it before I add the raw egg. Now, shape your croquetas into logs or patties or balls (or anything your heart desires) and coat each in breadcrumbs. I personally prefer patties as I feel they cook better (and quicker) that way. Shallow fry in hot oil until golden on all sides.
You can serve this with a salad and it makes a wonderful meal. It’s also great tucked into a bun for a picnic or a packed lunch. You can serve them with a dipping sauce of your choice – some garlic yogurt, sriracha, or even that old staple…ketchup!
Now that I have a child of my own, I often think of what food traditions and values I’d like to pass on to her. Definitely my love for real, home cooked meals. My respect for food and where it comes from and who brings it to us. My wariness of junk food. An appreciation for true quality…which does not necessarily equate to what is more expensive. My love for vegetables. The belief that something lovingly crafted in your own kitchen will always be better than something bought in a store. Dark chocolate over candy bars. Eating with your hands…ok, this she is already loving 🙂
Part of these things that I’d like to impart on little C is the avoidance of food waste. And that means no fussing about eating leftovers! For my part, I’ll promise to make them as tempting as possible 🙂