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How to Cook Two Dinners at Once (Without Even Realizing You're Doing It)

Epicurious logo Epicurious 1/3/2019 David Tamarkin
a piece of cake sitting on top of a plate of food © Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell

What if I told you there was a way to cook two dinners at once, and not even really notice you're doing it?

Well, my coworkers and I have told you this. But as I write this, it's January 3rd—the beginning of the fourth edition of COOK90—so it's worth saying it again.

So let's say it together: "nextover." A nextover is something you cook in a big batch with the express intention of eating some of it now, and some of it—in a different form—later.

For example, the cover of our new COOK90 book shows a sweet potato that's been split in two, roasted, and topped with chorizo, mushrooms, and a fistful of cilantro. A great dinner, but what you don't see in the photo is the tray of extra roasted sweet potatoes. On COOK90, you'd never roast just one sweet potato, because it takes the same amount of time to roast one as it does six, or eight, or ten.

No, instead, you roast eight. Four get topped with the chorizo, etc, and the other four are nextover'd a night or two later, when they get turned into a chickpea-sweet potato curry.

You can nextover with so many things. In the book I have nextover recipes that use a big pot of rice, a tray of roasted carrots, a big batch of tomato sauce, a dozen or so chicken thighs, and three pounds of steak.

And just the other day, Anna Stockwell added a new way nextover-ready recipes to the site: slow-cooker chipotle-orange pulled pork.

Slow-Cooker Chipotle-Orange Pork Tacos

many different types of food on a table: You can serve this warmly spiced, slow-cooked pork in its entirety for a crowd, or treat it as a "nextover" and turn the extra servings into a brand-new dinner later in the week. See recipe. © Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell You can serve this warmly spiced, slow-cooked pork in its entirety for a crowd, or treat it as a "nextover" and turn the extra servings into a brand-new dinner later in the week. See recipe.

"In terms of being transformable, a slow-cooked pork shoulder is the best," Anna told me. Her slow cooker pork is rubbed with orange zest, oregano, brown sugar, garlic, and chili powder and turned into tacos. But just because the pork leans Mexican in flavor doesn't mean you have to find a Mexican way to nextover it.

a group of different types of food on a table: Prepping the pork to be stir-fried. © Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell Prepping the pork to be stir-fried.

"You shouldn't feel limited by the flavor profile of your first dinner," Anna says. This pork shoulder could go into an Italian ragú, for example. Or into an American-style pulled-pork barbecue sandwich.

"In fact, it was hard for me to decide what the nextover for this pulled pork should be, because I had so many different ideas," Anna says.

Eventually she settled on a stir-fry. She adds a healthy amount of ginger and soy sauce to the pork and tosses it in a hot skillet with green beans, napa cabbage, and garlic. "But you can use any kind of cabbage," Anna says. "Or bok choy, kale, or sliced bell peppers."

"Nextover" Chile-Orange Pork Stir-Fry

a pan of food on a table: Leftover Chipotle-Orange Pork gets fried to an irresistible crisp in this quick, gingery green bean and cabbage stir-fry. See recipe. © Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell Leftover Chipotle-Orange Pork gets fried to an irresistible crisp in this quick, gingery green bean and cabbage stir-fry. See recipe.

In other words, you have options. And that's what's nice—crucial, really—about nextovers, whether it's pulled pork, baked chicken, white beans, or lemony lentils—they're blank slates, ready to go into an entirely different direction than the dinner you originally cooked with the same ingredients. Because if they couldn't easily be made into an entirely new dinner, they wouldn't be nextovers. They'd be leftovers. And what's the fun in that?

Related video: 50 people try to cube a potato

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