For all the time and attention that goes into creating a meal, the leftovers are sadly neglected. We eat them cold straight from the fridge or nuke them on high to a blistering, rubbery mass. We don’t plan for them to taste all that great. But are we selling leftovers short?
Earlier this summer, the staff at Charlotte Today asked me to do a segment on tips for reheating popular foods. I have some favorite tricks that I like to employ when it comes to giving food a second act, but what I learned when I did a little research to prepare for the segment surprised me. Leftovers have been given a bad rap and your microwave, and how you use it, might be the problem.
Take pizza. It should never find its way into a microwave. A toaster oven won’t disappoint, but a skillet with a lid yields the best results. One simply preheats the skillet over medium heat and then you add the pizza slice, crust side down, into the pan. Cover for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bottom is nice and crispy. Reheating pizza in this way requires just a little more effort than the microwave and that first bite, speaks for itself.
If you have more than a couple of slices, try the oven. Place a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Once hot, add the slices to the baking sheet and bake for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese melts. The preheated baking sheet ensures that your crust gets nice and crispy again.
In addition to the pizza tricks, I shared tips for reheating soups and pasta (with and without sauce) in my Charlotte Today segment on Monday. You can check it out by clicking here.
For those of you that are getting strangely defensive as I knock microwaves, don’t panic. You can still use your microwave, just remember some of these tips.
1. If reheating in plastic (I prefer to reheat everything in glass and ceramic dishes), make sure it’s microwave-safe. This is especially important when it comes to take-out containers. They aren’t all created equal and some aren’t safe for use in the microwave.
2. Plastic wrap should never touch food. I prefer to cover food with a paper towel or a piece of wax or parchment paper.
3. Short bursts, followed by a quick stir, are key. Most of us place our soup in a bowl, set the timer for 3 minutes, and walk away to do something else. We come back to a rocking hot bowl and soup with a cold center. Take the time to cook food in 30 second bursts and stir after each cooking segment. Your food will reheat more evenly and the results are far superior.
4. Can’t figure out how to stir your steak? The technique can still be applied to foods that can’t be stirred; simply flip foods after each 30 second increment.
And finally, a public service announcement (sweet husband, are you paying attention?). After 3 or 4 days in the fridge, you need to say goodbye to leftovers and no matter how you choose to reheat them, make sure you heat them to at least 165 F degrees.