As the father of a voracious 7-year-old boy — and as a father who packs said voracious boy's school lunch every day — I've become a pro at these dinner-lunch combos. Any day that I can cook once and feed my kid twice is a very good day. The trick, however, is to make sure the lunches made from leftovers are fresh and don't, well, taste like leftovers.
But this doesn't require a lot of work. A bit of imagination will take you far when it comes to reworking leftovers.
This recipe for grilled hoisin pork tenderloin is one of my favourites for this. The dinner itself is simple and wonderful and can be prepped the morning before. At dinner, I just toss the marinated tenderloin on the grill along with a few vegetables and it's good to go.
The next day, I turn the leftover pork into barbecue pulled pork, which can be eaten on a bun or in a whole-wheat wrap. It also can be served warm or cold; my son loves it both ways. When I'm pressed for time, I spoon the cold pulled pork onto the bread, wrap it and toss it in his lunch box. When I have more time, I pack the bread separately, heat the pork and pack it in a thermos. He actually enjoys assembling the sandwich himself.
And this can be done with grilled chicken leftovers, too. Just follow the simple directions below.
GRILLED HOISIN PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CUMIN ONIONS
The pork should marinate for at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better. I like to start it in the morning so it's ready to go at dinner. You even could do it the night before. This recipe makes enough for 4 dinners, plus leftovers. It also makes 5 onions, assuming 4 for dinner and another to be used with the leftovers.
Start to finish: 30 minutes, plus marinating
Servings: 4 dinners, plus 2 lunches
9.4-ounce jar hoisin sauce
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2-pounds pork tenderloins
5 large yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
In a large zip-close plastic bag, combine the hoisin, wine, soy sauce, garlic and hot sauce. Seal the bag and gently shake to mix well. Add the pork tenderloins, then close the bag and gently turn to ensure the meat is well coated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Trim the ends from the onions, then peel off the outer layer of skin. Place the onions in a second large zip-close plastic bag; add the olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and the cumin seeds. Seal the bag, then gently shake to coat evenly. Refrigerate until ready to grill the meat.
When ready to cook, heat one side of the grill to medium-high, the other side to low.
Using an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs, oil the grill grates. Add the whole onions to the cooler side of the grill. Grill, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn the onions, then add the pork to the cooler side of the grill. Grill the pork for 6 minutes per side. Remove the onions when they are very tender and the meat when it is nicely seared on the outside and reaches 145 F at the centre.
Transfer the pork and onions to a platter and let the meat rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the pork and serve with an onion.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 6 servings) (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 400 calories; 90 calories from fat (23 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 100 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 36 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1410 mg sodium.
LEFTOVER MAKEOVER: BARBECUE PULLED PORK SANDWICH
The next morning, place any leftover pork in a large bowl. Use 2 forks to tear and pull apart the pork into thin strands. Any leftover onions can be finely chopped, then added to the bowl. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bottled barbecue sauce and mix well. If you like it spicy, a splash of hot sauce also could be added.
For a cold sandwich, the pulled pork can spooned onto bread and packed in a lunch box (with a cooler pack). For a hot sandwich, microwave the pulled pork for 1 to 2 minutes, or until hot, then pack in a preheated thermos with bread packed separately.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.