So it’s been a rough couple weeks for cooking, as we’re right in the middle of the holiday season. As you may recall, from Adventures in Ham, I foolishly succumbed to the impulse to buy a twenty pound fresh ham just before embarking on a multi-day restaurant and party binge that has kept me out of the kitchen every night but one since the fateful purchase.
So what do you do with 14 pounds of leftover roast pork? Well, for starters, you freeze it if you’re not going to use it right away. I cut it all off the bone after resting, into four large chunks, vacuum sealed them, and froze them all. In the interest of full disclosure, the meat, while cooked to a safe temperature (145F) at the bone in the 4 hours I roasted it at 350F, was not cooked to an optimal doneness throughout. Fresh ham comprises both the lean “white meat” of the pig, and the fattier, far more delicious, “dark meat.” The white meat was properly cooked through, but the dark meat needs to be cooked longer, at lower temps, to be fall off the bone delicious. If I had the chance, I’d roast it at 200F for 24 hours. Not a weeknight project, but one for another time.
But anyway, on to the recycling part. Re-roasting the pork, at least the white meat, held little promise. It already was cooked optimally – juicy and still slightly pink – and a second roasting to heat through would dry it out. I could reheat it sous vide, but that seemed like a lot of effort. The solution? Pasta sauce.
Recently, a reader wrote asking for a recipe that would ease her back into the kitchen. I provided a master recipe for tomato sauce, with variations. Here’s another one: using the leftover sauce in the freezer with the leftover pork to make a quick pasta sauce. In the twenty minutes it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you can put this together and give it time to simmer. And the beauty part? You’ll never guess that you’ve recycled two earlier recipes.
20 minute pork ragù
1 lb leftover roast pork, from preceding recipe or any other roast pork recipe, diced 1/4″ to 1/2″ depending on your preference
1 small fennel bulb, small dice (1/4″)
1 small onion, small dice (1/4″)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 c basic red sauce, from master recipe
crushed red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
1 lb dry pasta
grated Pecorino or another grana cheese
Place a saucepot over medium heat and, when hot, add a little olive oil. Sweat the fennel and onion until soft and tender; add the fennel seeds and sauté a minute until fragrant. Add the red sauce, the pepper flakes to taste, the bay leaf, and the diced pork; bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, although salt may not be necessary as both the pork and the master red sauce have been seasoned previously.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Drain and return to the pot; sauce and toss. Serve with grated cheese, if desired. Twenty minutes!