Risotto with Porcini, Peas and Prosciutto – in Pictures

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I had forgotten I intended to do this. A few months back, I picked up an amazing few fresh porcinis and fresh english peas and made a risotto (the base recipe is here). Here is my result, in pictures.



I forgot to include a picture of cooking the risotto, so sue me.


Even More Over the Top Mac and Cheese

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Well, time to revisit the recipe since a number of people asked for it at a New Year’s Eve party we attended at Domanico Cellars. The original recipe is here, but this is the one I specifically made on NYE

The Software

1/2 lb of elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 lb. good quality bacon, preferably thick cut

1 1/2 tablespoon powdered mustard

3 cups whole milk

1/2 cup onion, minced (about 3/4 of a medium onion)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 large egg (lightly beaten)

12 oz Sharp Cheddar  shredded

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper to taste

The Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Shred the cheese and separate into 2 parts, one containing 1/4 of the cheese and 1 containing 3/4 of the cheese.
  • Cook the bacon, reserving the fat. Mince into 1/4 inch pieces when cooled.
  • Mince the onion. Add to the pan that you cooked the bacon in with 1 tsp of bacon fat and cook over medium heat until browned and slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a 4 qt pan.
  • Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes to al dente and drain.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a 3 qt pan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook until pale blond (about 3 minutes) stirring about every minute.
  • Whisk in onion, paprika and mustard until combined (about 1 minute)
  • Slowly add the milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Slowly add 2 ladles full of the milk mixture to the egg, whisking as you add it. This will temper the egg to keep it from cooking and turning into scrambled eggs. I usually do this in a measuring cup. If there are any lumps (i.e. cooked egg), start over with another egg.
  • Add the egg mixture into the pot and stir a couple of times to combine.
  • Add 3/4 of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the bacon to the pasta and combine.
  • In the pan that you cooked the onions, add one tablespoon of bacon fat over medium high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toss. Cook until they become golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Put pasta and sauce in a 4 qt casserole dish, cover with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in the over for 20 minutes.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes and serve with your favorite hot sauce (or not)

IMPORTANT – don’t fully cook the pasta – it will finish cooking in the oven and it will be completely mushy if you cook it fully on the stove. Also, don’t rinse the pasta after you drain it.

Notes Timing is important on this recipe, so I highly suggest preparing all of your ingredients before you start cooking – it really makes the job much easier when you are not trying to measure something while watching something else. I also highly recommend freezing the cheese for about 10 minutes prior to shredding – it makes it much easier. The shredding can be done in a food processor or using a box grater. Don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese, it really doesn’t taste the same and shredding yourself will take you 2 or 3 minutes extra and it will be worth it. I really like Beecher’s Flagship Cheese in this recipe, but if you aren’t local to Seattle, you probably won’t be able to find it, so just use your favorite cheddar.  I really like Skagit River Ranch’s bacon for this recipe, but any good quality bacon will work. The pasta and sauce can be made in advance and then put in the oven later – just put it in the casserole dish, covered in the fridge and when you are ready to cook it, remove it from the fridge, uncover and let it sit at room temp for 15 minutes while you warm the oven. The leftovers also make really good fried mac and cheese the next day, that is, if there is any left.


Braised Pork Sugo

By Iron Chef Leftovers

One of the nice things about making pasta sauce is that it is a fairly simple process and can be used in a variety of ways. One of the things I tend to do with my tomatoes is to make a really simple sauce and freezing it so that I can use it as a base for a more robust pasta sauce later in the year. One of my favorite sauces is a sugo – a hearty sauce that I love in the cold of winter. It was part of one of my courses at a recent dinner party and it is a nice sauce to feed a crowd.


The Software

3 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium onions, finely sliced (about 2 cups)

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch lengths

3 celery stalks cut into 1 inch lengths

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes (16 oz)

1 1/4 cup chicken stock

1 ¼ cup red wine

1 teaspoon minced garlic

5 cups tomato sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced sage

1 teaspoon minced rosemary

2 teaspoons olive oil


The Recipe

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a dutch oven, heat one teaspoon of olive oil over medium high heat until just smoking. Add 1/3 of the pork and brown on all sides (about 4 minutes per side). Remove from the pot to a plate and reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook for 8 minutes until they start to become translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add celery and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add stock, tomatoes and red wine and increase heat to medium high until liquid comes to a boil. Add the pork and cook until the liquid returns to a boil. Cover and put in the oven. Cook for about 2 hours or until the pork is fork tender. Remove from the oven. Pull the pork from the liquid and set aside to shred. Take the vegetables and add them to a blender. Strain the liquid to remove the fat and then add to the blender with the vegetables. Puree until smooth (you may need to do this in a couple of batches). Add the puree and the pork back to the pot and combine with the tomato sauce, oregano, rosemary and sage. Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes, add salt and pepper as needed and serve over pasta.



This recipe is better if you make it a day ahead of when you want to use it. I use an even split of marsala wine and dry red wine, but just about any red wine will work in this recipe. You can adjust the amount of tomato sauce depending on how much sauce you like. If it is too thick when you serve it, add a bit of pasta water to it to loosen it up. This would also be nice with a bit of red pepper flakes added to the initial braise.

AB’s Quick and Easy Pasta Dough

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Homemade pasta is one of those things that is insanely easy (with the right recipe) and will impress the crap out of your guests if you make it. It also comes in handy because you can make it with a few ingredients you have at home. I have made pasta completely by hand and it is hard work – mixing and kneading the dough and rolling it out. Taste-wise it is outstanding, but time wise, it isn’t worth it. A few years back, Alton Brown came out with a recipe that significantly cuts back on the time – all of the mixing is done in a food processor. It takes about 3 minutes to make the dough with this process, so you could actually make fresh pasta for a Tuesday night dinner rather than a special occasion.


The Software

10 oz. All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon olive oil


The Recipe

In the bowl of the food processor combine the salt and flour and pulse for 2 seconds to combine. In a measuring cup, combine all of the remaining ingredients and beat lightly. Turn on the food processor and slowly stream the liquid into the bowl, until all of the liquid is incorporated or the dough just begins to pull away from the side of the mixer bowl. If you have used all of the liquid, slowly stream in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until dough is ready (It should feel slightly tacky, but not wet or sticky). Remove from the bowl, give it about 10 seconds of kneading to bring it together and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (the longer you refrigerate, the easier it is to work with).



It is hard to describe exactly what the dough should feel like, so you will probably have to experiment a bit with it. Sometimes you need to add a tablespoon or two of additional water, other times you will not end up using all of your liquid, so there is really no exact way to do this. Some fun additions to pasta – a couple of tablespoons of minced spinach or stinging nettles (just make sure you remove as much water as possible), fresh herbs, lemon zest and pepper or hot pepper flakes. Just add them in with the flour salt and pulse to combine.

Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Since it is tomato season and I am currently pulling more tomatoes than I can eat, I needed to do something creative with them that allows me to highlight their sweetness without completely overpowering the flavor. I also wanted something that was easy and I could pull most of the ingredients from the garden or what I usually have on hand. Here is what I came up with:

The Software
8 oz. pasta, preferably farfalle
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 oz. goat cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 basil leaves, chiffonade
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
Salt and pepper


The Recipe
Cook the pasta until al dente, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water when done. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and goat cheese and toss until the pasta is coated and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are warmed through, about 3-4 minutes. If the sauce is too thick at this point, add a bit of the pasta water to thin it out (There shouldn’t be big puddles of it in the pot, you are really just creating enough sauce to coat everything). Check seasonings, remove from heat, add the basil and serve.


The recipe should serve 4 easily but can be easily scaled. I used Sun Gold tomatoes since that is what I had in the garden, but just about any tomato would work – just cut them small enough to be one bite. Some chives would also be a nice finish to this if you don’t have any basil and this could also work with the addition of some hot pepper flakes – just add them in when you put the vermouth in. If you don’t have vermouth, you can use any white wine that you would like.

Toasted Quinoa Hash

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Too bad the Mayans hadn’t actually invented this dish, they might be remembered for something other than they amazing grasp of astronomy and a faulty calendar.

I like quinoa – it is nutty, easy to cook and really healthy for you since it is a whole grain and does not contain gluten. It is also one of the oldest cultivated agricultural products on the planet. I recently served a quinoa hash as a side dish for my End of the World meal. If you need a hearty side dish or something that can be expanded to a meal and cooked in really short time, this is one for you. I got the idea from this recipe from both Modernist Cuisine at Home and Cooks Illustrated, but the recipe is pretty much my version.

The Software
½ cup red (or any type) quinoa
2 teaspoons olive oil
¾ cup stock (chicken of veggie) or water
½ can black beans (preferably low or no sodium)
2 oz. queso fresco

The Recipe
Rinse the quinoa and drain. In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the quinoa and toss to coat with the oil. Sautee the quinoa for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant. If it starts to brown deeply, lower the heat to medium. Add stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the quinoa begins to unfurl, about 15 minutes. Drain the beans and fluff the quinoa with a fork when it is finished. Add the beans to the quinoa, taste (add salt as necessary) and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Plate and sprinkle queso fresco on top. A sprinkle of chopped cilantro would also be nice.

The quinoa can be made in advanced and reheated with the beans prior to serving. This serves as a nice base for chicken, fish, veggies, or pretty much anything that you would want to put with it. Make sure you rinse the quinoa first and drain most of the water before putting it in the oil. Rinsing it removes a naturally occurring chemical on the grain that produces bitter flavors if you make it without washing it first. Quinoa can be found at most supermarkets either in the bulk food section, the rice isle, organic section or the ethnic foods section.

Farro – The Other Brown Grain

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Farro, or emmer as it is also known, is an ancient grain that is popular in Italian cooking and is starting to gain acceptance in the US because of its high nutritional value and diabetic friendly properties. I tend to use is as a substitute for rice and I love its nutty flavor and tend to cook it to an al dente consistency to give it some toothiness. It is a simple grain to cook and it is pretty much like cooking rice.

The Software
½ cup farro
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt

The Recipe
In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the farro and toss in the olive oil until coated. Cook over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Add the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 30-40 minutes. Check the grain after about 25 minutes – you are looking for a consistency that is slightly chewy, but not crunchy. The farro may be cooked before it absorbs all of the liquid. If it is, drain the liquid and season as needed (a little salt and pepper usually are nice, maybe a couple of teaspoons of nice olive oil). This can be served either hot or cold.

You can replace the stock with water if you want – the stock adds flavor, but isn’t necessary. Use farro in place of brown rice as a side dish or put it cold on a salad for a nice, nutty crunch. It is also really good with some slivered almonds and dried cranberries as a side dish – just add those in once the liquid is drained and toss.

Gumbo File

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I love gumbo but it can be really hard to find one with a good balance of flavor and heat in a restaurant. Most of the ones that I have had around Seattle have been too soupy or bland, so I decided to make one recently that was basically a modification of Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats.

The biggest problem with making gumbo is getting the roux dark enough – the roux is the foundation for the flavor of the dish and traditionally it requires at least an hour of cooking on the stovetop with constant stirring. Alton Brown devised a short cut method, which does not reduce the cooking time, but it does reduce the need to stir it constantly by cooking the roux in the oven instead of on the stove top. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it uses file powder instead of okra. I am not a fan of okra, but you need it to thicken the dish. File powder does this.

The Software
* 4 ounces vegetable oil
* 4 ounces all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 pounds raw, unpeeled medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
* 2 quarts water
* 3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (Optional)
* 3/4 cup chicken stock (if not using the chicken in the dish)
* 1 cup diced onion
* 1/2 cup diced celery
* 1/2 cup diced green peppers
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned
* 1 tablespoon file powder

The Recipe

The Roux
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process. The roux will come out dark brown, almost brick red when it is done.

The Stock
While the roux is baking, de-head, peel and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1-quart. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.

If including the chicken – In a separate pot add 2 cups of cold water, a pinch of salt and the chicken. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until very tender. Remove the chicken to a plate to let cool and de-fat the cooking liquid in a fat separator, reserving 3/4 cup. Removed the chicken and shred when it is cool enough to handle.

The Gumbo
Brown the sausage on both sides over medium-high heat and remove to a bowl. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 on each side (don’t worry about cooking them completely, they will finish cooking in the gumbo). Deglaze the pan with the reserved cooking liquid from the chicken or the chicken stock, scraping up the brown bits. Once the brown bits are scrape up, add the liquid to the shrimp stock.

Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth and chicken stock while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp, chicken and sausage and stir to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice to a happy public.

If the gumbo is not thick enough for your liking, you can add additional file powder after serving.

The recipe is really hands off compared to most other ones I have seen. You can eliminate the chicken and chicken stock and replace it with vegetable stock if you are so inclined, but I am not sure if there is a way to make this vegetarian. The heat is pretty tame in this recipe, if you like more heat, increase the cayanne, or just add some hot sauce when serving. Traditionally this is served with rice, but would also work with pasta. You can also add more or less of the meats in it, depending on what your preferences are.

File powder can be found at any good spice shop and most mega marts.

Pasta all’amatriciana

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I like incredibly simple meals. One of the simplest and tastiest is pasta all’amatriciana. It has a whopping 5 ingredients – guanciale (essentially pork jowl bacon), tomatoes, pepper flakes, cheese and pasta (well, technically 6 if you count the pasta water) and takes probably 20 minutes to prepare. The recipe that I used was stolen (with a few modifications) from Jennifer McLagan, James Beard Award winning cookbook author, who pilfered it from another cookbook. The only thing that I really did differently was used cappelini instead of bucatini since Mrs. Iron Chef doesn’t like thick pasta. It worked, but it would have been better with thicker pasta as the thin pasta really does absorb more of the sauce. Either way, this was a pretty killer dish.

Note – I converted the measurements from metric, but I used the metric measures when I made this, so it might be a little off. I also left the metric measurements in there if you are so inclined.

The Software
6 oz (175 g) guanciale – sliced into 1/4 inch lardons
2 cups of diced roma tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano (plus extra for topping the pasta)
16 oz (400 g) pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water

The Recipe
Cook the pasta until al dente (time depends on the type of pasta), reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Cook the guanciale over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. DO NOT DRAIN THE FAT FROM THE PAN. Add the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Add about 1/2 of the pasta water and cook for 2 more minutes. If the sauce is still too thick, add more of the pasta water (it should be slightly watery). Add the pasta and cheese, stir to combine. If the sauce looks too thick, add a bit more pasta water, if not, serve with some grated cheese and ground black pepper.

If you like more heat, add more red pepper. If you can’t find guanciale, use really fatty pancetta or bacon and you may need to add some olive oil to the pan for additional fat. It won’t be as good, but it will work in a pinch. Use your judgment in adding the water – my tomatoes were very dry so I needed more water that I thought I would. You can add less. Canned tomatoes would probably work if you drained them before adding them to the guanciale. I didn’t take a picture of the sauce, but here is what it should look like before you put the pasta in (I am linking rather than posting my pictures because Chef McLagan is a professional and, frankly, hers was much prettier than mine).

Pasta with Asparagus and Bacon

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Spring is, in theory, here and I wanted to make a nice, quick and relatively light dish to use up some first of the season asparagus that I had and I had a hankering for pasta, so I figured that I would do a rift off a classic peas and prosciutto pasta using asparagus and bacon.

The Software
3/4 lb of pasta (rotini or penne are good choices for this)
1 lb asparagus – cut into 1/2 inch pieces, woody parts removed
5 slices bacon
1 tablespoon bacon fat (reserved from cooking the bacon)
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 shot (1 1/2 oz) cognac
1/4 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
2 – 3 oz grated cheese (I used half and half pecorino Romano and parmigiano reggiano)

The Recipe
Bring water to a boil for pasta. Add salt. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain but do not rinse. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Remove bacon fat from pan and reserve 1 tablespoon. Don’t wipe the pan after removing fat. When cooled, dice bacon into small pieces and set aside.

The finished product making good use of the season's bounty.

Raise heat to medium high and add asparagus and sprinkle with salt. Cook until it begins to soften and brown, about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the stalks. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the tablespoon of reserved bacon fat and onions to the pan. Saute the onions for 4-5 minutes until they begin to brown.
Reduce heat to medium and carefully add the stock, wine and cognac. Return heat to medium-high and bring to a boil for 4-5 minutes.
Add pasta and 1/2 of the cream. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add asparagus and cheese. Cook for about 2 minutes until the asparagus heats back up.
Add remaining cream, garlic and bacon and cook for an additional 45 seconds to a minute, stirring constantly.
For more sauce or if the sauce is too thick, add small amounts of the pasta water as necessary.
Taste – add salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve an enjoy

The sauce is meant to coat the pasta rather than drown it, so this doesn’t produce a great deal of sauce, but it has a ton of flavor as the past a will absorb a good deal of the liquid from the pan when it is put in and produce a very thick and creamy sauce. You can use almost any white wine to cook with in this recipe, but I really like the sweetness that vermouth brings to the dish. The bacon is really optional, but hey, everything is better with bacon.

I also happened to notice that Thursday Night Smackdown posted a variation of this recipe recently. I swear I wrote this before I saw TNSD’s version.