In the real world it’s economically better to cook in bulk and save food for later meals. Not to mention the fact that no one wants to spend an hour or more in the kitchen every single night of the week making meals. There aren’t enough hours in the day in this fast paced world. Unfortunately leftovers get a bad rap sometimes. If a meal isn’t stored right or reheated properly it won’t taste nearly as good as it did when it was freshly cooked. Here’s how to ensure that your last meal’s leftovers stay tasty for your family for days to come.
Store Leftovers Carefully
Being able to enjoy leftovers all starts by ensuring you store the leftover food from a meal the right way. There actually is a right and wrong way to store leftover food. Improper food storage can be a hazard to your health. Start by allowing the cooked meal, meat included, to cool off for an hour or so before you start storing it. You don’t want to allow meat to sit out for more than two hours though. This is when meat enters the danger zone. The meat danger zone is when meat sits at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and when harmful bacteria can start to latch onto meat and multiply. That’s why it’s also helpful to separate large portions into smaller, shallow storage containers with airtight lids. It allows the food to cool off more quickly. Then make sure to put the smaller containers of food into the refrigerator to cool off further below the danger zone.
If you are storing meat, make sure to include some of the leftover juices or broth with it to ensure reheating doesn’t dry it out completely.
Related Read: 4 Cozy Crockpot Recipes to Try This Fall
Reheat Leftovers Properly
When it comes time to enjoy your wonderful leftovers,make sure you’re reheating them the right way. If you’re reheating chicken and worried about retaining moisture, sprinkle on some leftover juice or some water droplets and cover food when reheating in the microwave. Also, position the meat around the outside of the container or dish, if possible, if you are reheating other items with your meat. This will ensure more even heating, since foods located on the dish’s outside tend to heat faster and meat takes longer to heat than vegetables or pasta. The moist heat that is created in a covered container will help destroy harmful bacteria and will ensure uniform cooking. Microwaves can cook unevenly and leave “cold spots” where harmful bacteria can survive. Always allow a stand time to complete the cooking and before checking with a food thermometer. A good rule of thumb for safety reasons is to ensure that meat reaches 165° F.
If you’re reheating steak, the microwave is not your best bet. Instead, try to butterfly a thicker cut of steak and heat it up in a saute pan over medium-high heat. This raises the temperature more quickly, and brings the internal temperature up without fully cooking it through.
If you’re willing to take a little extra time to reheat your steak for optimal results, here’s a great video from America’s Test Kitchen on how to do it.
Come on down to McGonigle’s Market on Ward Parkway at 79th Street for the best meat in Kansas City. It’s always fresh, which means it will stay fresh for longer if you’re a fan of leftovers.