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That’s RaGOO. Got it. May 3, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, Food, random stuff.
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When we put one of our new all-time favorite pork dishes on this week’s schedule, it reminded me that we usually have some left over.

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Now, I, for one, am not above taking a hunk of roasted pork, shoving it on a roll and calling it lunch (or breakfast) (or even both) until it’s gone.  And, of course, neither is Peeps.

But still, it just kind of seems like, when you commit to a big old hunk of roasted beast like that, you really should get more than one “official” meal from it, know what I’m saying?

Especially when you’re only two (or, as is the case right now, three) people.

PhotobucketThe last time we slow-roasted a pork shoulder, besides enjoying an absolutely fantastic dinner, we stashed several lunches in the freezer (the same as dinner, only in a miniature, lunch-sized, form), slapped together a soup (roasted pork and white bean – half of which also got stashed in the freezer) and, with the remainder, tried Fine Cooking’s recommendation for leftovers – Pork Ragout and Soft Polenta.

PhotobucketI’d like to make a somewhat embarrassing confession here.  I first saw the word “ragout” in print, and for the longest time, in my mind, I pronounced it “rag-out.”  Kind of a Karate Kid sort of thing – rag in, rag out. . . picturing Daniel-san hand-washing laundry after waxing Mr. Miyagi’s car.  Because, you know, RAGÚ is jarred sauce, right?  Right?

So anyway, we had a bit of pork left over, and we’ve got loads of corn-meal in the house, so this was a natural.

We find that plain old cornmeal – the stuff you use for muffins – works just fine for polenta.  Yeah, I guess you could get all fancy and buy imported hand-picked, free-range, organic, certified Angus water-wheel-ground cornmeal grits polenta, but just know that you don’t have to, that’s all.

PhotobucketOften when we’re cooking together, Peeps will be in charge of one part of the meal, and I’ll take another – and the dog gets bonus points when we both have to step over him.  This time he (Peeps, not the dog) made the polenta while I dealt with the sauce.

This is actually a classic combination – a bunch of celery, carrots and onions (aka mirepoix), all diced small – I wouldn’t go any bigger than 1/4 inch – any bigger, and the carrots and celery still have a bit of a crunch.  Which, I guess is okay if you like that sort of thing.  (So yeah, the dicing can be a little tedious, but honestly?  If that’s the hardest thing you do all day, you’ve got it pretty good.  I am just saying, that’s all.)

PhotobucketWe saute the diced veggies along with a pinch of salt and another pinch of red pepper flakes, 10 minutes or so (a little longer if your dice is too big like mine was).

Then the fun part – a couple of cloves of minced garlic (actually, I guess that should read “a couple of cloves of garlic, minced,” shouldn’t it?) and a pint each of diced tomatoes and chicken stock.

The original recipe called for “3 canned tomatoes, drained and cut into medium,” and 3 cups of broth, but really, what am I going to do with the rest of a quart of tomatoes?  A pint of diced tomatoes (hey, look, the dicing is done for me!), undrained and less broth, and the volume of liquid was about the same, so let’s not be silly here.

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While Peeps was slowly stirring the polenta (he’s got far more patience for that than I do), I shredded up about a pound of the leftover cooked pork, added that to the saucy mixture, and brought the whole thing to boil.

After that, I reduced the heat and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes or so, to give the liquid a chance to reduce and develop a little more concentrated flavor, and also to finish cooking the carrots.

Peeps finished the polenta by stirring in 1/4 cup of grated romano cheese, a tablespoon of butter, and plenty of black pepper – the mixture thickens as it sits, so once the sauce was reduced to our satisfaction (i.e., we were tired of waiting for it), we spooned polenta into bowls then topped with a hearty scoop of sauce and a hefty sprinkle of cheese.

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And it was delicious – we might even do it again!  (Here‘s the original recipe again.)

What creative ways do you like to use leftovers?

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