Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mushroom pasta (with liver and onions)

Around here, we love liver and onions. Love.

We also like leftovers a lot. Obviously, leftovers are good for me because I can make a really quick meal. But they're also a great way to make a completely different meal with less fuss than starting completely from scratch. A roast might come back as a cold sandwich. Or even a stew. Or fajitas. Or a soup.

Sometimes a main dish is re-worked to become an appetizer or a side dish. And sometimes the second-day meal is something we look forward to the most.

Unfortunately, leftover liver and onions aren't the easiest things do deal with. Overcooked liver isn't a good thing - it gets tough - and if you've cooked the liver once, reheating can be risky.

I've made liver pate with cooked liver, and that's fine. But there's only so much pate I want to eat.

So, what can be made from a slightly larger amount of liver and onions? When it's not enough for a full meal, but too much for a nibble?

A little brainstorming led me to pasta. Some time ago, I made a pasta dish that included chicken livers and onions, so I figured I could make my liver and onions work in a similar recipe.

Here's how I made it

It was pretty simple. I cooked some mushroom pasta until nicely al dente and cut the liver into bite-size pieces and set that aside on the counter while I did everything else. I wanted it to come up to

I lobbed a lump of butter into a skillet and cooked it until it started to brown. I added the cooked pasta along with some of the cooking water, which made sort of a sauce. I added salt, pepper, and some ground sage. I added a splash or two of white wine.

I tossed that around to coat the pasta, and then added the liver and onions and gave it one more stir and toss before I served it. The point was to get the liver warmed up without letting it cook any further.

If I was going to do this again, I'd start with some fresh mushrooms and saute those in the butter to add an extra flavor and texture to the dish. A bit of sour cream or creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce would be interesting, too.

Obviously, if you don't like liver to begin with, this won't be your thing. But then again, if you don't like liver, you're never going to have any leftover liver and onions, are you?

I've made similar dishes using leftover steak or roast beef, letting it cook just long enough to take the chill off, without cooking any further.

So tell me, what's YOUR most creative use for leftovers?