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Would you use week-old cooked pork loin for a bolognese sauce?

I cooked a large pork loin in the oven, kept it in the fridge five days while we ate leftovers, then froze what was left. On Saturday i took it out and thawed it (in the fridge), intending to use some for sandwiches with our soup Saturday night. But I forgot about it, and as I am about to throw it out, I am wondering if it would be pushing it too far to chop it up and make bolognese sauce. It still looks, smells, and tastes fine. Thoughts?

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  1. When in doubt, throw it out!
    five days in the fridge, then frozen, thawed and it sat again? no, I would just toss it and chalk it up to lesson learned.

    1. I'd say if it smells and tastes fine, it is fine - but I wouldn't try to make a bolognese out of it! For bolognese you need ground, raw meat to velvet while cooking in milk. You couldn't get that with pre-cooked meat.

      1 Reply
      1. Three days in the fridge after cooking is pretty much my rule of thumb - then I freeze it.. When it defrosts, I use it up right away. But, if you do decide to reinvent it, leftover pork roast makes great fried rice.

        1. Sam probably would've, but I certainly wouldn't.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pikawicca

            I was just "introduced" to Sam this morning - and here he is again. I feel fortunate to have shared a bit of his life thru everyone so I can continue on with you all in your references.

          2. "It still looks, smells, and tastes fine. Thoughts?"

            Use it.

            That said, whether you "can" use it is a separate question from whether you "should" use it.

            Yes to the former, a definite maybe to the latter.

            1. It passed all the tests that matter so I'd eat it.

              1. eat it no reason to throw it out if it passes sensory tests. could refreeze if need be. not appropriate for bolognese, though.

                16 Replies
                1. re: jen kalb

                  Well, I know most bolognese doesn't call for cooked meat, but I do often add bits of leftover coooked meat--ribs or roasts, sausage-- to my usual ingredients (ground veal & pork and pancetta) to no ill effect. In this case, I would be augmenting the sauce with probably 3/4 lb. chopped cooked pork.
                  What I was really wondering is if simmering the cooked bits in an acidic sauce for a few hours might extend the pork's life with no harm to anyone eating it. But maybe I am pushing it too far (I usually keep most things I cook in the fridge--and eat them--for up to a week, which was the "rule" my mother always applied.)

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    not really a good indicator... My step-son is a chef and has has the save-serve or serve safe classes and he has give me the same advice

                    pathogenic bacteria can build up to dangerous levels and the food can still look, smell and taste completely OK

                    This is especially true when the food is refrigerated, because some processes are more cold-tolerant than others

                    From the USDA website
                    Pathogenic bacteria cause illness. They grow rapidly in the "Danger Zone" – the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F – and do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could be dangerous to eat, but smell and look just fine. E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella are examples of pathogenic bacteria.

                    what I my husband who is a scientist will confirm is that bacteria do grow RAPIDLY in this temperature zone, but they also DO GROW in refrigeration.

                    1. re: cgarner

                      That's why I toss any cooked and unused meat on the third day. If it's been cooked, thawed, then frozen again, I'd toss anything I hadn't used right away immediately.

                      1. re: mcf

                        If you want to do that, or you are feeding someone who is immuno-compromised thats fine, but its wasteful and unnecessary to throw properly refrigerated (that is, not in the danger zone) cooked meat that rapidly.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I guess we have different ideas about where the danger zone begins. I think it's 2-3 days after cooking. If something's been thawed, cooked, frozen, defrosted, cooked, refrigerated for a week after that, I won't eat it. Odds are you can eat it with no problems, but there are enough severe food pathogens these days that you don't have to be immune compromised to get and they grow readily while in refrigeration.

                          1. re: mcf

                            the danger zone in the post above yours is a temperature range at which bacteria proliferate rapidly, not a number of days. I agree with another poster that we are not going to change minds here e either way.. However overly careful practices regarding avoiding exposure to bacteria etc can make us more prone to problems not less since our systems dont develop useful resistance.
                            Im going to step out of the discussion now.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              I don't think we develop useful resistance to the superbugs that are endemic to livestock feedlots, though. :-( I'm not overly careful, I'm just cognizant .

                              We each decide what our own risk tolerances are, I'm not saying everyone should adopt mine, but since I and my family almost never catch infections, stomach or otherwise, that go around our communities, I'm guessing it's no harm, no foul immunity wise.

                              1. re: mcf

                                And since I eat and drink everything, all over the world, practically no matter how old and never "catch" anything, well, what conclusions can we draw from that? Oh, right, I always forget that salmonella-infected Peter Pan peanut butter back in 2007. I was a tad under the weather with that one :(

                          2. re: jen kalb

                            These are fruitless conversations, IMO. I've never seen a single person change their mind on this subject. Never. I live in a "magic house" and would appall some with what I eat. Others don't. No one changes their mind. Never :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              You're right, c oliver, I'd probably fall over if I read that somebodywrote "well that makes sense, I'm changing my mind about that".

                              I'd eat it, though, if it was cooked the very last time for a fairly long time. Then i'd toss whatever was left of that.

                        2. re: cgarner

                          Cooking would kill off the bacteria. The real concern here is that there might be bacteria whose growth produces toxic byproducts. Botulism is one example--it isn't the bacteria that is the problem.

                          The only common thing I know of off hand that is dangerous to eat even when reheated if it is more than a day or two old is rice. At a week old, it potentially has enough toxins to make someone puke for the better part of a night.

                          1. re: SteveG

                            Well, I guess you'll keep doing what you do, and I'll keep doing what I do, and hope we'll both be fine ever after. :-)

                            1. re: SteveG

                              I guess I'm safe. I don't like leftover rice. I don't think I've ever eaten any.

                              The Danger Zone, food safety-wise, is either between 40-145 degrees or 45-140. I can never quite remember, so I stick with 40/145. If you are Danger Zone observant, you don't eat anything that has been kept at this temperature range for two hours or more.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                I could hardly eat anything if I adhered to this rule.

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  The top shelf of the door of my fridge is 40, everything else, depending how low and rearmost, is high to low thirties. I never leave stuff out to cool for any appreciable time before refrigerating, my husband always wants to. Beyond, that, I'm conscientious, but I don't take the temp or worry to that extent, I just cook to a safe temp, store at safe temps, and toss stuff before other folks might.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    most people are aware enough of food safety issues that they're not going to make their families sick. You don't debone a chicken and then cut up your salad veggies on the same cutting board, at least not before you've washed it in hot soapy water, right?

                                    I couldn't tell you at what rate pathogenic bacteria grow in refrigeration, and I'm not about to start swiping food with swabs and looking under a microscope before we eat... but I can tell you that we don't keep food in the fridge more than two, three days tops. with a kid in the restaurant biz and a husband who is a scientist, they get sceevie like that so food that sits gets tossed.

                                    I am quite mindful of food waste, so portion control is key. If four of us are eating dinner, it's four chicken breast halves (for example) because my daughter and I will eat half a breast half each and the "men" will eat the rest... if I do have leftovers they're eaten for lunch the next day.

                                    (can't we all just get along? nobody wants to intentionally get their family sick, right?)

                            2. Why would you add it to a bolognese sauce? They are typically cooked for a long period of time with meat. Pork loin doesn't do well with long cooking time because the lack of fat, plus you have already cooked it.

                              Please don't do this, you will just waste ingredients. If you do decide to reuse it, and you want to do a spaghetti sauce, make a fresh sauce out of tomatoes garlic/shallots and toss the chopped up pork loin in right before service just to heat it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Cooked pork loin in bolognese? Probably not a good idea.

                                1. Thanks, all. I was obviously unclear in my original post (and the wording of my question), which I didn't mean as a question about bolognese so much as about week-old pork loin. I know how to make bolognese and know cooked pork loin wouldn't be the starting point, but, yes, I often add small amounts of leftover (cooked) pork or beef, if I happen to have it, to the big pot of more traditional ingredients, so as not to waste it. It doesn't seem to detract from the result, always seems to disappear in the mix.
                                  But I ended up chucking the rest of the pork loin since I realized I didn't have time for bolognese today and wasn't sure when I might get around to it. And, as many posters noted, that pork was getting a little long in [for] the tooth!

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    Sorry you got scared off; personally, I would have used it and added it to my sauce toward the end of cooking.

                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                      Probably the safer option. Foodborne illness just isn't fun, no matter how mild it is.

                                      I was more disturbed about the pork in bolognese than I was about the safety.

                                      I think I would have chopped it and heated in a bottle of barbecue sauce (or a batch of same, homemade), then put it on a hamburger bun. Maybe not gourmet, but not pork in bolognese, either.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Not pork in bolognese? Why not? Many bolognese sauces include pork--ground or minced, as well as prosciutto or pancetta, even minced pork loin. I've eaten them in Bologna and environs. My basic recipe comes from an Italian--it includes coarse ground pork (shoulder) and veal and pancetta. And most Italian cookbooks acknowledge the pork variations/ inclusion in bolognese sauces.

                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          ground fresh pork, I'm all over. I use it on occasion for the deeper flavor in bolognese and lasagna (and meatloaf, and Chicago-style pizza, etc., etc., etc.)

                                          I can absolutely see prosciutto and pancetta, and while it's a stretch, I can even get my head around minced *fresh* pork loin.

                                          But chopped, leftover roasted pork? Sorry, but bleh.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Totally agree. The first Bolognese I made was all ground pork shoulder. But not what OP described.

                                          2. re: nomadchowwoman


                                            Any chance some of us on the board could get your recipe for this Bolognese? I have been looking for one for quite sometime now.

                                            1. re: Barbarella

                                              Absolutely. I'll dig it up and type it up later today.

                                              1. re: Barbarella

                                                Here it is, Barbarella. I hope it works for you.

                                                The recipe, which was given to me by the (now long) ex-wife of a friend, makes a lot--enough ragu for two large dishes of lasagne (which is what the recipe was for and why the cream factors into the construction of the lasagne rather than the sauce). I usually make a dish of lasagne and freeze the rest of the ragu for later use. But it halves easily, and like most recipes of this type, responds very well to tweaking of all kinds.


                                                RAGU BOLOGNESE

                                                1/3 c. olive oil
                                                ¾ c. diced carrots
                                                ½ c. chopped onion
                                                ¾ lb. pancetta, finely chopped (I often use less)
                                                ¾ lb. coarsely ground veal (shoulder)
                                                1 ½ lb. coarsely ground pork (shoulder or butt)
                                                4 – 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes, chopped &drained, juice reserved
                                                1 c. veal, chicken, or beef broth (optional)
                                                1 ½ - 2 c. cream (or milk) *
                                                Salt, freshly ground pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg to taste

                                                In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over med. low. Add carrots; sauté 2-3 minutes. Add onions; sauté until soft, 6-8 minutes. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add pork and veal; cook, without browning, about 12-15 minutes. Add tomatoes, about 2 c. of juice from cans, and 1 c. stock. (If not using stock, use about 3 c. tomato juice.) Bring to boil. [It is at this point that I add small amounts of leftover cooked meat if I have some—crumbled Italian sausage, beef or pork ribs, chopped roast pork or beef of whatever type, large bones—anything that doesn’t carry flavors/seasonings that would clash/interfere with the flavors of your ragu.] Lower heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 ½ to 3 hours until ragu reaches desired thickness—should be thick and meaty. Season to taste w/salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

                                                *About cream: if you want cream, add it (or milk) by ¼ cupfuls during the last hour of cooking. The sauce comes from a lasagna recipe, which goes on to have you mix the cream with copious amounts of grated parmigiano cheese to make a paste, which is layered (spooned over the ragu, béchamel-like) between sheets of pasta. This is what I usually do. (I freeze the remaining ragu, without cream, for later use. When I thaw it to use as sauce for pasta, sometimes I add cream when I reheat it, and sometimes I don’t. Either way, it is delicious.)

                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                  that looks absolutely delicious. (but I'll still stick to the fresh ground meat for this one)

                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                    This sounds fantastic and exactly how I'd like to keep the house warm and cozy this coming weekend, thanks.
                                                    I only wish I had some leftover meat to add!

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                      BTW--another thread just reminded me of lamb: i gave this recipe to a friend who doesn't eat veal, and she used lamb instead of veal. I think she added some fresh thyme, maybe a little rosemary, and served it over orecchiette. It was delicious, slightly different in flavor, of course, but delicious. (And I once added couple of leftover small cooked lamb ribs to the simmer. So lamb definitely works in the mix, in whatever incarnation.)

                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        Lamb is nice in ragu - so is venison. LOVE venison.

                                                      2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        Thanks so much for the recipe. Cannot wait to try it!!!

                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                    I like to use pork in Bolognese. Usually I do a pound (or two) each of ground pork and beef. Sometimes turkey, but only the 7% fat kind.

                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                    Well, we did have those for lunch one day (and pork sandwiches on another). I knew I was going to have to disguise it were I to serve it again (and despite the doubts, it does disguise pretty well in a thick bolognese ragu). At any rate, noone's missing it . . . ;-)

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                      I'm pretty sure the posters who were freaking out are not familiar with what an excellent cook you are. I'd have eaten it. ;-)

                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                          Me too. I'm forever using meat that's been around longer than the recommended. If it doesn't smell, feel, or look funny, and hasn't been unrefrigerated for an extended period, we're going to eat it. Pork loin is particularly good cubed and cooked with a lot of sautéed onions to which some turmeric has been added, a couple of tb of paprika, water and vinegar over (as sour as you like it) to cover, simmer, add a dash of fish sauce and/or soy sauce, then a couple of tb (or more) of hot mango pickle. Burmese pork curry.
                                                          Not that that has anything to do with ragu - but I'd use it there too, in small dice, not ground - cooked meat gets a bit oogly ground.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            That sounds delicious--once upon a time, I had a Burmese cookbook, from which I never cooked a single thing, assuming stupidly that the cuisine was pretty much the same as Indian. Then a year or so ago, I saw a television show on Burmese (or Myanmar-an?) food and really wished I paid more attention to that cookbook. But I am making note of your recipe for the next time I have leftover pork, week-old or not. Thanks.

                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                              It really is. It's supposed to be called Mango Pickle Pork, I remembered (has a nice ring to it) - had it in a restaurant here and found it in my one Burmese cookbook, probably the same one as you used to have, it goes back at least to the 80s.

                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                PS this just may be dinner tonight, from some of my kajillion-hour roast pork shoulder meat.

                                                  2. Not a strictly Bolognese reply (although on the subject, I always add a little toasted fennel seed, pulverized), but a little left over pork loin I had the other night got sliced and had chopped green chilis and avocado layered between the slices, making a sort of loaf, which I heated quickly and onto which I squeezed a little lemon...awfully simple but very tasty. Back on Bolognese, it may not be a true Bolognese, but I gave used a lot of different things in a "Bolognese-like" sauce, even low fat sour cream! They may not have been nearly as incredible as real Bolognese, but they beat the heck out of anything you can get in a bottle and use up the leftovers. So, assuming no safety issues (and I take no position on the how many days to keep before tossing debate), I'd vote to try it.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                                      How about adding the pork toward the end to a choucroute-style dish, with maybe a smoked pork product there form the start, in a slow cooked sauerkraut, bay, juniper, onion, and riesling base? With nice steamed parsleyed potatoes and good mustard.

                                                      1. re: bob96

                                                        Throw some paprika in there, the cubed pork, caraway, sour cream, hello improvised Szekely gulyacs.

                                                    2. Would I use pork loin for a bolognese? no...too lean
                                                      Would I eat cooked pork loin for five days? nope...too long. I have a 3 day max

                                                      Was this one pork loin. I have never seen one so large that it would last 5 days.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        Hi j!

                                                        Of course, YOU wouldn't eat that :) Goes without saying. I think you may be talking about pork TENDERloin rather than loin?

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          of course i was not going to change the spots on this leopard. but i think they are the same thing.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Here's a photo of the loin roast that I'm thinking OP cooked.


                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Yup, that's it--looks about the right size, too--BIG. It definitely wasn't a tenderloin.

                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                thanks ladies. internet works pretty good at 37k feet

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  I'm SO jealous. Our international carrier of choice, Continental, doesn't offer it on their entire fleet. And now they're going to charge for food on domestic flights. Woe is us.

                                                      2. This thread got me to thinking and the other night I had some leftover roast pork loin and some pasta. I diced the meat about 3/8" cubes. Sweated some minced onions, threw in a diced red bell pepper (not roasted), a sprinkling of grated nutmeg, toasted fennel, and ground pepper, a good glug of white vermouth and bound it all with a little store brand pasta sauce. Almost a hash consistency. Not a bad way to use up leftover roast that was almost but not quite ready to pitch.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                                          I've done a million combinations of that sort of thing. I jokingly call it "Melange." But I do it when I have not enough meat to make a meal from without doing something like that. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb. Anything.