How to Make 3 Delicious Dinners Out of 1 Pork Roast
With a big family at home, making a hearty dinner — and doing it quickly — is one of my biggest tasks of the day. It’s also relentless. That’s why I love cooking one big meal early in the week and transforming the leftovers into two more dinners, each with totally different flavors. It’s fast and efficient, and guess what: There’s even less food wasted, which is good for the planet and my budget, too.
That leads to another important point: In order to stretch your pork roast as far as possible, focus on adding sides. No matter if you opt for fresh or frozen, this is the time to load up on vegetables. Add starches like bread, rice and potatoes, and not only will you be consuming less meat, but you’ll also be buying less meat — a win all around.
Dinner #1: Giada De Laurentiis’ Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast (pictured above)
This is some of the juiciest, most flavorful pork you’ll ever have, thanks to those layers of salty, smoky pancetta perched on top, gently working their way into the roast. But it’s also due to the mixture of wine and chicken broth in the roasting pan, which gently flavors the pork too. I also learned this trick during a cooking class I took when I lived in Italy. It works every time.
Sides: Since the oven’s hot anyway, pair your pork with roasted veggies like Ina Garten’s easy asparagus and a loaf of crusty bread to sop up all those heavenly juices.
With the pork already cooked, all you need to do is shred it. Then, using about two-thirds of your remaining leftovers (reserve the last cup or so for Dinner #3), simply add your favorite barbecue sauce; you can make this one from Ree Drummond, or pour a sauce straight from a jar, because we’ll never tell. Warm it up, then pile your BBQ pork on buns with a few pickles on the side.
Sides: I love The Pioneer Woman’s Colorful Coleslaw as a side here, plus corn on the cob. But if time doesn’t permit? I always turn to fresh fruit. Watermelon, cherries or fresh peaches make an instant summery side that no kid will turn down.
With that last bit of shredded pork, all you need are tortillas, cheese and a few Granny Smith apples. Trust me, it’s an amazing combination. Slice your apples thin, thin, thin; then pile on the cheese, sprinkle your pork on top and you’re essentially making quesadillas — with a fresh twist.
Sides: One of my favorite ways to produce sides in a hurry revolves around one simple but irresistible ingredient: dip. Grab baby carrots, slice some cucumbers, throw in a few crackers if you must, but by all means offer a few different salad dressings and hummus. Let the kids mix and match. For small kids, I’ve found that a round of "Which combo is best?" gets even reluctant veggie eaters involved. Round out the meal with other fridge favorites like pickles, olives or sliced cheese.
Charity Curley Mathews lives with her husband and four small kids on a mini-farm in the making in North Carolina. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post, InStyle and more, as well as the founder of Foodlets.com, where she posts easy-to-follow, kid-tested recipes full of fresh ingredients plus tried-and-true advice about teaching kids to love good food. Mostly.