Leftovers. Ugh. The word alone immediately underwhelms me. It's the opposite of an exciting meal. But Asheley is big on leftovers, since she absolutely hates wasting perfectly good food. And I can't say that I disagree. It's just so often, boring... unless you are talking about reheating a batch of that Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup or Fire Roasted Chili from the freezer. I love those leftovers.
But then this amazing idea popped in my head. And amazing ideas rarely pop into my head. Just ask Asheley.
I just made these luscious, tender, fall off-the-bone Braised Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Polenta. There were plenty of leftovers, but not quite enough for another full meal. Don't you hate it when that happens? The next day as I stared at the short ribs in the refrigerator, sitting alongside the sautéed swiss chard studded with crispy, salty pancetta, a light bulb went off.
Transforming the braised short ribs and swiss chard into a pasta dish ended up not just being as good as the original, but quite honestly better. It's now Asheley's favorite pasta creation that I make. And I think you will really love it too. Leftovers have never been so exciting!
I love orecchiette. I love how sauce finds its way into the crevices, acting almost like little tiny bowls for whatever sauce clings to it. If you can't find orecchiette in your area, I'm totally with you. Most stores by me don't carry it, so I make sure to stock up whenever it crosses my path.
Feel free to substitute another type of pasta. Rigatoni or shells would probably work equally well.
This didn't hit me until just now, as I'm sitting here writing this post. Asheley and I actually had a pasta course just like this at Mario Batali's Del Posto. He paired orecchiette with a lamb neck ragu and carrots. It was a really great dish that I guess stuck with me more than I thought!
It's amazing how you draw inspiration from food you've previously eaten, sometimes without even realizing it 🙂
There really isn't an exact recipe. Assuming you've already made the braised short ribs and swiss chard and are just using up your leftovers like me, here's what I did:
Take the leftover short ribs and shred the meat into bite size pieces. Reheat the short ribs and its braising liquid, along with the swiss chard, in a large sauté pan over low or medium-low heat. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette 1 minute less that the package directions, so it can finish cooking in the pan with the short ribs. That way the pasta soaks up the flavors of the braising liquid.
I didn't have quite enough braising liquid leftover to adequately coat the pasta, so I added a splash of the pasta water along with the pasta to the sauté pan . A generous sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano cheese and it was dinner time.
If you haven't already made the Braised Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Polenta yet, well that's going to be your first step. Go ahead and make them this weekend while you have the time to sit back and enjoy the aroma of short ribs gently braising in wine permeate your house.
It will make for a really fantastic dinner. I promise 🙂 Here's a look at what's in store for your dinner #1:
Just make sure you don't eat all of the short ribs the first night! You need to save some so you can enjoy this leftover pasta transformation 🙂