My wife’s birthday happens to always fall on Memorial Day weekend, which means every year we return from visiting her family with a cornucopia of grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, corn, watermelon, potato salad — you name it. The leftovers are very welcome, but I always seem to run out of buns, onions, pickles and all the other fixins by leftover hot dog number three.
So, besides just raw doggin’ them straight from the fridge like a little gremlin, what can you do with leftover grilled goodies like hot dogs, burgers, corn and watermelon?
According to grill master and professional chef Jim Mumford, a lot, actually. “Leftover burgers and dogs scream stuffed roasted squash, which are a magnet for anything and everything in your fridge,” he tells me. “In fact, most Eastern European squash recipes call for meats very similar to burgers and hot dogs — chop fine, and enjoy the smoky flavors from the grill as a welcome surprise.”
To that end, the smoky flavors and grill char lend leftover hot dogs and hamburgers to a wide variety of carb-based dishes. There’s no shortage of hot dog spaghetti, hot dog mac n’ cheese and frank-n-beans recipes found online, but you could also throw leftover grilled hot dogs and burgers in with veggies and hash browns, fried rice or roasted potatoes. Wrap them in a tortilla with cheese, and you’ve got hot dog/hamburger taquitos. Hell, you could even try your hand at authentic Italian pizza by topping it with chopped up hot dogs.
Meanwhile, Mumford says, “Leftover corn is a culinary godsend. Corn on the cob just seems to be sweeter, and the cork milk from the shaving adds a sweet and savory note that I adore.” Translation: Once you shave the corn off the cob, you open yourself up to an infinite amount of new recipes.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with elotes either. Just slather your corn on the cob with mayonnaise, chili powder, fresh lime juice, Cotija cheese and cilantro. Do the same on de-cobbed corn, and you’ve got esquites. “Mix grilled corn with arugula and pesto pasta,” Mumford says, “and you’ll be sitting in front of the best pasta salad you’ve ever had in your life.”
Growing up surrounded by corn fields, I’m no stranger to corn-centric recipes myself. A few of my mom’s go-to moves are throwing grilled corn into cornbread and making corn soup, corn chowder, grilled chicken and corn tortilla soup or avocado corn salad. And, if you’ve got leftover watermelon on your hands, she’s got a corn salsa that can kill two birds with one stone. Though she’s always very clear to credit the recipe to her neighbor Jean, try my mom’s way and just throw your leftover grilled corn and watermelon into a bowl with cilantro, jalapeño, black beans, red onion and a squeeze of lime juice.
And finally, if that sounds like a lot of work and ingredients for leftover watermelon, Mumford’s got you covered. “Just keep it simple,” he says. “Remove seeds, blend until liquid, add ice and vodka.”