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Leftovers Ah, leftovers…The Goddess loves leftovers.  I think she’s mentioned that before, you know, twenty or thirty times, at least.  Here, Cuban-Style Pot Roast, Deconstructed is, quite literally, “blown apart” into an entirely new dish.  Leftovers are a gift.  And for those that don’t like to eat leftovers, implying you would be eating exactly what you had originally served, but just reheated…no, no, no…not at all.  Leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving, just like this dish.  It’s re-purposing your original dish; it’s that simple.

Think about it.  It’s Tuesday or Wednesday; you come home later than you planned.  You walk in the door and there are hungry faces staring at you; you’re hungry.  What will you fix for dinner?  Leftovers!!!  That’s what.  A steaming bowl was placed in front of The Spicy Honey in under 20 minutes.  How great is that?  This dish, and dishes like this, is why I don’t understand people who tell me they don’t like or eat leftovers (you all know who you are).  Seriously.  I flat-out don’t understand it.

This sauce can absolutely be made fresh, from scratch, too.  But why would you?  You’ve planned this out carefully, because you’re a planner.  You know you are.  You wanted leftovers, so you made extra, just so you could make this type of dish, which is the perfect example of how leftovers simplify your life, particularly your mid-week dinner prep.  By the way, you could easily put the sauce and chunks of the beef in a freezer bag, toss it into the freezer for one of those days when you’re almost too tired to eat, let alone fix a meal.  There it is, just waiting for you.

Cuban Beef Ragu from LeftoversI say “this type of dish”, because this “sauce” could be served over rice, polenta or a toasted croûte, instead of pasta.  Think “gravy”…which is more or less what most sauces are.  Any sauce could, and should be adapted using chicken, pork, shrimp or whatever you have leftover.  Not enough sauce leftover?  Adding broth, heavy cream and/or wine, to extend the sauce, works great.

The Spicy Honey chose pasta as the vehicle for this sauce, so I put the water on to boil, then I started the sauce…before you put the pasta in the water, your sauce must be ready.  When the water boils, throw in a small handful (about 1/3 cup) of salt, then the pasta.

I wanted to add some extra veggies, so I tossed in some spinach, which was going to be unusable in about 3 days, but today it was still beautiful…I always find spinach heads into the nether-lands of slime, way too quickly.  I intended to add some frozen peas, but alas The Spicy Honey poured me a glass of wine and well, you know how that works with The Goddess.

Cuban Beef Ragu with SpinachAnyway, I stirred in the spinach, then immediately added the pasta.Undercooked Pasta added to Bubbling Hot SauceI don’t know what this pasta is called, but imagine broken-up lasagna noodles, but thinner.  I really liked it, so now I have remember where I bought it, and that will an interesting and probably fruitless endeavour.  But, you can use any type of pasta.

IMPORTANT INFO—This is a KNOWLEDGE ENHANCER.  That’s what we’re going to call any information that is consistently true; something you need to know to make your food better and your life easier.  So, when you intend to serve pasta with a sauce, you are going to undercook the pasta, just slightly; it won’t yet be al dente.  Think a very firm al dente, not something you would want to eat quite yet.  Drain the slightly undercooked pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.  Now, have the sauce bubbling away, toss the almost cooked pasta into the sauce and Pasta Finishing Cooking in the Cuban Beef Ragutoss it around with the sauce.  Let it cook in the sauce, sucking up all the flavors and becoming one with the sauce, just until it reaches that perfectly al dente state.  Immediately remove the pan from the heat, toss in a chunk of butter, if you want.  Butter is a wonderfully flavorful addition, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. About now, I imagine you’re wondering what am I supposed to so with that reserved pasta-cooking water?  It’s there, just in case you need to add a bit more liquid to your pasta and/or to correct the salt level in your sauce.  The starch in the water, gives the sauce a silky quality that is lovely on the tongue.  You won’t probably need more than 2-3 tablespoons, but it’s better to have too much, than none at all!  I did add about 3 tablespoons of the water (make certain you taste the sauce first; you don’t want it to be too salty!) and in the picture below, you can see that the sauce coats the pasta better.Cuban Beef Ragu with PastaNow, into the bowls and on to the table.  See the chunks of beef, chorizo, olives and spinach…YUM…Manga!!!!!

KNOWLEDGE ENHANCER:  This process, of adding under-cooked pasta to a bubbling hot sauce is a given whenever you are fixing pasta with sauce, leftover or otherwise. I cannot stress enough how important is to have your sauce hot and bubbling, before you start to cook the pasta, even though you’re under-cooking your pasta.  You can always lower the heat just to keep the sauce simmering.  Pasta cooks incredibly quickly and you wait for the pasta, it doesn’t wait for you!