Monday, March 9, 2009

No One's Leftovers

There are some people out there -- mostly men, I've noticed -- who don't like leftovers. I'm not one of those people. I LOVE leftovers. I love not wasting food, certainly, and I love saving time by nuking something for 2 minutes rather than having to make a meal from scratch. But I actually love the way most leftovers taste, too -- they're usually just as good, if not better, than the original meal.



There are exceptions, of course. Beef, particularly since I like it on the rare side, isn't good reheated. It gets cooked too well and there's a strange after taste that I don't like. Things that used to be crispy, such as fries, tortilla chips, or fried chicken, also aren't very good leftovers. But then you have Chinese food, or other Asian foods, or a tomato-based spaghetti sauce, which almost always taste better after the flavors have had some time to mingle.

But so far I've just talked about leftovers eaten in their pure form: taken from whatever container they happen to be in, then reheated to be eaten just as they are.

There are also the leftovers that get transformed into something different, and if you're lucky, even better than what they were before. Take, for instance, the creamed broccoli I made the other night. On its own, it had been good, but not great. As I mentioned in that post, it was too thin as I hadn't used enough broccoli. Tonight, I wanted to make Alfredo (ironically, one of the foods that doesn't make good leftovers, as reheating it but keeping the sauce from separating is a herculean task) -- the first time since the first failed attempt. However, I didn't have any heavy cream. That's when I thought back to the creamed broccoli. Since it'd been too thin, there was plenty of 'cream' left, and it hadn't been overly seasoned so it could actually work as a base for my Alfredo -- a broccoli Alfredo.

I simplified the recipe greatly from when I first attempted it, taking my cue from other readings I've done on simple Alfredo sauces. And it was, in a word, spectacular. Creamy, rich, and everything I always imagined an Alfredo should be. Unfortunately, I didn't take exact measurements, but it should be simple enough to reproduce.

The meal wasn't an entire success, however. I still had leftover pork loin from the last Friday dinner, and if you remember, I wasn't a fan of the apple-rosemary sauce. I'd recently been talking to a friend about the wonders of McDonald's sweet and sour sauce (he was waxing poetic over it, not me), which is something that Trix is a big fan of as well. We found a copycat recipe for it online. And it got me thinking: maybe this sauce would work better with the pork loin! So I made it, as it's very easy. And I actually like the taste of it better than the McDonald's version (though it remains to be seen whether the two people who love the McD sauce will agree). But... I should have remembered that I just don't like sweet sauces, no matter how hard I try.

Still, the pasta was so great that it didn't matter at all. :D



Broccoli Alfredo
  • 2 servings of dried fettucini noodles
  • 1 serving creamed broccoli
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup hot starchy pasta water
Method
  1. In a medium saucepan, boil water for the pasta. Add enough salt so that it's lightly salted. Do not add additional oil. When it's boiling, add the pasta and cook as directed.
  2. While the water is boiling, melt the butter in a wide saucepan. When it's melted, add the creamed broccoli and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the pasta is nearly done -- the cream sauce should reduce by 1/3 or 1/2. Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn't burn. You probably also have time to grate the cheese.
  3. When the pasta is done, use tongs to transfer it into the bubbling broccoli and butter mixture. You don't have to be too conscientious about the water.
  4. Toss the parmesan onto the pasta, and give everything a good stir. Turn off the heat at this point, as you don't want it to boil again, which will make the sauce separate.
  5. Add the indicated amount of pasta water to the pasta and sauce. Stir briefly. The starchy, salted water will help thicken the sauce and flavor it at the same time.
  6. Use tongs to dish out the pasta. Serve hot and enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Sauce (patterned after McDonald's version)

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup apricot preserves
  • ¼ cup peach preserves
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender EXCEPT for the water. Puree until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the water and stir. Bring this mixture to a boil and allow it to boil for five minutes while stirring often. When it is fully thickened, take the pan off the heat source and let it cool.