Leftover Osso Buco Pasta

As much as we would like to believe that we live in a universe where we create a new dish for every meal, at some point we have to deal with leftovers. Whether it’s a busy work-week-night when there is simply no time to get yourself elbow deep in prep work, or a lazy Sunday when you want a respite from any sort of activity that entails getting out of bed, time will find you poking at a motley assortment of containers in the fridge thinking, “What am I ever going to do with you?”

The resurrection, and transformation, of leftovers has been a subject of many a blog post. In fact, there is even an event made to celebrate leftovers' many incarnations. I’m all for it. I love the victorious feeling I get when I have triumphed over a sad batch of leftovers and given them a new lease on life, given us a great meal, and avoided waste, all in one fell swoop.

Although I think experience has made me pretty adept in cooking small portions (first for one, then now for two), there are some dishes that just don’t lend themselves to being reduced too much. Substantial, slow cooking stews are a prime example, producing tons of leftovers from my little table-for-two. But how do you re-do a stew?

This is one of my favorite ways with leftovers. The type of dish for which I would purposely generate leftovers. A little background: Osso Buco is one of my mother’s specialties, that I now make too. When we make it though (Italian purists please do not flog us!), it comes out more like a stew than a braise. Reason being that my brother (who is one of the best people in the world to feed**…hence the inexplicable manner in which we all cook to suit his taste) loves to have extra sauce for his rice. If we get a little overzealous with the sauce/liquid, then we are inevitably left with a surplus.

So here is what I like to do: I take all the leftover Osso Buco, stick it in a ziplock bag, and toss it in the freezer. Then one day, when I am just too tired or busy to cook, I unearth it from its frozen depths, thaw it out and heat it. I then prepare some pasta noodles (preferably a really hefty type, like pappardelle…one of my favorites! If you can find the curly type even better. This is a hearty sauce and does well with an equally hearty noodle). I toss the two together and top with some freshly shaved parmesan.

Depending on what your leftovers were like, you may still have chunks of meat in it. Shred this roughly and include in your sauce. This pasta is redolent with the aromatics of the Osso Buco. It has the backbone of the beef drippings, and the essence of the marrow. Lots of oomph here!

(**My brother has the appetite of a warrior, the gastronomic adventurousness of an explorer, and the words and thoughts of a poet. I am blessed to have him as a brother and a taste tester.)