|When life gives you bacon...
||[Apr. 8th, 2011|03:31 pm]
I can't freaking wait to go home today because tonight I eat leftovers. And those leftovers contain bacon. Multigrain angel hair pasta with a bacon and clam sauce. And you're thinking, that's not going to heat up right...|
Oh, but it will, my little quahogs. (Which aren't little, since a quahog is one of the largest clams in New England. But calling you little cherrystones distracted me with its humor potential. And calling you little littlenecks...well, that's even funnier... but then I wouldn't be able to save you southerners from embarassing yourself the next time you're in New England and you pronounce it kwa-hog, or some other abomination. It's Co-hog. Co-hahg if you want to be precise, but if you were born below the Mason Dixon line I fear you'll slip into a drawl if I let you go there.)
Anyway -- It will heat up just fine if you moisten it with a little more chicken broth, line the bottom of an oiled baking dish just big enough for your serving portion with the leftover asparagus. Fill the rest of the sidh with the pasta. Grate a good snowdrift of good quality parm or other hard cheese over top. Drizzle it with olive oil. And bake to to warm through and get the cheese bubbly.
Like so many things -- relationships, life experiences -- if you expect something that's been sitting the fridge for a couple of days to taste as good as it tasted the first time you ate it, you may be disappointed. There are some things that taste better after they've sat around a while. Meat stews, when it comes to food. Companionable silences in a relationship.
But for most things, if you just take them out and try to heat them back up...well, it's just not going to be as good as the first time. The trick is -- you have to do something a little bit different. Maybe you need to bake it this time. Maybe you need to throw in a little green veg. And really, who or what doesn't benefit from a snowdrift of genuine Parm?
You need to start with a thick, good quality bacon. Niman Ranch, Neuske's, or Nodine's. I'm sure there are other good bacons out there, but the three N's are like a triumvirate of bacony nirvana.
You're going to dice 4 slices. If you're using a good bacon, this won't be too much fat. If you are attempting to substitute a lesser bacon...well, I'm not responsible. It's best that you don't let me find out.
Put it in a hot skillet or saute pan and let it render a little. Chop a shallot (ideally) or smallish onion. Saute it until golden and soft with the bacon. The bacon doesn't need to get crisp, so don't rush it. Squeeze a couple of cloves of garlic in there. Open up a can of clams.
Don't judge. Don't wax rhapsodic about how this meal would be so much better with fresh chopped clams. I don't care. I work 50 hours a week and do volunteer work. If I waited for the stars to align and produce a moment where I could marry the availability of fresh clams with having enough time to deal with them, I'd be sending you the recipe from the rest home. Plus, it's easy to make something magical with wonderful, fresh ingredients. This is not what this recipe is about.
So, open up your clam can. (Plus, if I used fresh clams, I couldn't use the phrase clam can. And there would be clam guts. I come from the guts-free school of cooking. I don't like what I eat to have had a JOB beyond just twitching at the right moment. So, clam bellies and guide dogs are OFF the menu.)
Drain the clam juice into your saute pan to deglaze. (That's when you pour a liquid into a hot pan, and it all bubbles up and gets in your nose, which is fine when it's clam juice, but watch it if you do that with vinegar because that stuff will TAKE your nose hairs. Then you scrape up any browned goodness that's on the bottom of your saute pan to incorporate it into the sauce.). Anyway, so, get on with it. Deglaze. Add a little chicken broth...1/4 cup, maybe? If you have any cherry or other tomatoes, halve or chop them and toss a handful in. If they're big tomatoes, drain off the liquid -- they're supposed to be an accent.
Simmer a bit to reduce the liquid, soften the tomatoes if you're using them. Now turn it down to warm, dump in the clams. Chop maybe two sprigs of parsley. Or chives, depending on what's come up in the garden, or is languishing in the veg drawer. Add enough parm or other hard grating cheese to thicken the sauce slightly while you boil water for the pasta.
Now toss them together. Snowdrift it with more cheese. Asparagus simply cooked makes an awesome side, as do peas.
And you already know what to do with the leftovers, don't you?