love your leftovers with rachel's unpatented universal infinitely adaptable stew!

infinitely adaptable:
chicken, bacon and paprika stew
The problem with leftovers is not just in the name - reminiscent of dregs, scraps and dregs - the idea that you are scraping the bottom of the food barrel. One of the other problems is that sinking feeling of having met the food once before, like an unwelcome guest at a party.

Some of this is a problem of our own making - we just cook too much and waste more. But maybe if we came up with a new name for leftovers, it would make it easier to swallow. I
haven't really thought this through yet - "secondary deliciousness" and "tomorrow's yummyiness" are frankly clunky and twee, but you can see where I am going with this. The word leftover just sounds so dreary, that it is not surprising so many people are filled with gloom at the thought.

But I realised that I have a sort of universal and totally adaptable stew which just about all my leftovers go into and it is utterly delicious. It starts with a base of onions and garlic, tomatoes, fresh thyme, smoked paprika and red wine. It is infinitely adaptable - with chorizo, mushrooms and a dab of sour cream, or with chorizo and peppers. In this case it was just a matter of a few rashers of finely chopped bacon, leftover roast chicken and the whole thing came together in a matter of minutes.

On a cold wet day, and my unpatented universal infinitely adaptable stew was the perfect comfort food tossed into my favourite spaghetti pasta. 

Skill level: Easy

2 tbsp olive oil
1 x red onion, chopped
2-3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 x pancetta slices, finely chopped (or smoked streaky bacon)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 x bay leaf
1 x fresh thyme sprig
8 x baby plum tomatoes
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooked pasta
fresh basil leaves, torn (to serve)


  1. Gently fry the onions in a little olive oil until softened. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, before adding the bacon. Cook the bacon on a medium heat for about 2 minutes, to allow some of the fat into the onion-garlic mixture.
  3. Add the smoked paprika and stir to ensure that it is mixed in, before adding the chopped tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes before adding the stock, fresh thyme and the bay leaf. Simmer for 20 minutes, before adding a large splash of red wine. Cook until the stew has reduced down a little.
  4. Check the seasoning and serve tossed with pasta.


  • This is delicious with rice, hunks of sour dough bread, and a baked or mashed potato.
  • Stir through a little cream for an even more indulgent sauce.

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