Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinners from the Fridge and Freezer -- Day 1

It was while I was trying to cram an accidentally-purchased third bag of peas into my freezer that an idea came to me:

This week, I will not buy any groceries and only cook with what I already have on hand in the fridge or freezer!

Firstly, I'm not really a frozen food person. My freezer is where perfectly good food goes to die. 

But, really, I have loads of prepared food in the freezer, so that alone could/would/should carry me for a month. But rather than just reheat leftovers, I'm going to attempt to bust out my creative skillz with my re-purposed food. Ew, that sounds horrible. Second-hand? Gently-used? I'm going to stop now.

Tonight, I decided to revisit some braised short ribs in tomato sauce that I had leftover from Saturday night. The short ribs, although time-consuming, were dead easy:

  • Brown salted and peppered short ribs in a mixture of olive oil and butter; transfer to plate. 
  • In leftover fat in pan, fry up some mirepoix (diced onion, carrot, celery) until softened. 
  • Deglaze with a 28-oz can of tomatoes (crushed slightly) and 3 cups beef stock. Stir in a small can of tomato paste and minced fresh rosemary.
  • Add ribs and any juices back to pan; bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Thicken with a little beurre maniĆ©*, if needed.
  • Season with salt, pepper and a sploosh of balsamic. Done. 

Sorry there's not photo for that part, but you see... this is an afterthought. Just stay with me.

Originally I'd enjoyed these short ribs over smashed potatoes. Enjoyed is probably an understatement, actually. But after two meals of short ribs and potatoes, I was ready for something new. 

So tonight, as night 1 of Dinners from the Fridge and Freezer (in my best "Pigs in Space" voice), I took the leftover saucy ribs, added a package of frozen spinach and reheated until bubbly. I then tossed this mixture with hot cooked kamut penne. 

Why kamut penne, you ask? Because I had some that had been sitting in my cupboard for about 7 months and in the spirit of "use it up", decided to... well, you know.

Also, there was shaved Parm.

Behold! Kamut penne with short rib sugo, spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano. Sounds all restaurant-y doesn't it?

So good! Seriously! I shocked myself! Exclamation point!

Stay tuned for (hopefully) more fridge and freezer fun. Please note that Wednesday night, I'm having dinner out with a friend and will not be eating from my F&F. Don't judge.

*Beurre maniƩ is a mixture of equal parts softened butter and all-purpose flour that can be added to sauces and stews near the end of the cooking process. Sort of like a roux for forgetful people. Not that I'm forgetful, but I'm just sayin'. Just add a little knob of the mixture to the hot sauce and stir until smooth. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to cook out the raw floury taste and fully thicken the sauce.