Cook and Freeze for Company Meals?
I'm a long time lurker but this is my first post. I'm hoping you'll be able to give me some of your great advice!
We'll have a family from Denmark staying with us for a week next month and will be having most dinners at home. The days are going to be full of activities so I won't have much time to prepare meals. I'd like to prepare and freeze a few things in advance to make things a bit easier so I'm looking for main courses that freeze really well. So far I've got my meatballs in sauce and crawfish etouffee. I'd love to hear what your favorite freezer meals are!
My friend is a chef (!!!!!!!) but they're traveling with young children so kid-friendly recipes would be great! We'll definitely be grilling one night.
Thanks so much!
Please keep the suggestions coming! Our refrigerator went crazy during Hurricane Irene and now it's FREEZING everything. Not exactly the hurricane-related refrigerator problem we were expecting. We won't be getting a new one before next week at the earliest and cooking has become a lot harder what with being unable to refrigerate vegetables, milk, etc. We did chicken stew, green chile braised pork, lasagne, chili - help!
I would recommend a slow cooked pork shoulder. You can make it ahead and freeze it after you have skimmed the fat from it. Add a little moisture to it and it reheats thawed from the fridge better than the original dish. We generally serve it over egg noodles, but the restaurant that gave us the recipe served it over mashed potatoes. I have heard several CH use the Idohean instant potatoes from Costco but I have never tried them. Maybe someone can confirm or you can test them out. Pair with a green salad and you'll have dinner ready before you could find the take out menus.
Slow cooked pork
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Yields: 8 servings
2 lbs boneless Pork Shoulder - cubed if desired
1/8 cup herbs de provence
1/8 cup fennel pollen
Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
1/8 cup EVOO
1/2 cup wine
Season meet with herbs, fennel pollen, S&P in an oven proof roasting pan. Drizzle with EVOO & pour quality wine over meat. Cover with Aluminum and roast @ 350 degrees for 3 hours, basting meat occasionally. Remove foil & continue roasting 1 hour or until meat is tender. Skim off excess fat.
I make lasagne to freeze by lining the baking pan with plastic wrap, then assembling the lasagne, then freezing the whole thing, then removing the frozen lasagne in its plastic wrap, and storing it in the freezer. When it's time to cook it, unwrap the frozen lasagne, butter the baking dish, put the frozen lasagne in, and bake it.
I agree that the slow cooker is ideal for this situation, and you should be able to make a mean pot of chili in it. Get a tried and true chili recipe and make it at least twice first. Chili is about as American as it gets. You could also make the chili ahead, and freeze. And I'd have a few restaurants in mind in case you are too bushed to make dinner for everyone at least one of the nights they are there. I think the etouffee is a wonderful choice to make for visitors. I hope you all have a great time together.
Lasagna thrives as a frozen dish; it only seems to get better. (Thawing in fridge for 24 hrs best for texture and to minimize extra cooking time).
Stews of all kinds take well to being frozen and reheated, though not those with potatoes. How about a nice green chile with pork shoulder/butt? The farmer's markets are full of Anaheim chiles right now where I am...
Stew -- beef stew freezes wonderfully, you might also try Brunswick stew w/ chicken. A hearty pea soup or beef barley soup are great freezers and all you'd need is a salad and some good bread. On the pedestrian side, one of my faves now and again are sloppy joes --- easy, kid friendly and an American classic/blast from the past.
why don't you use a cuban mojo marinade? that would make for terrific eating when the loin is hot and then later for cuban sandwiches! have you ever tried the niman ranch brand pork tenderloin? it'll knock your socks off.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/mojo-marinated-pork-recipe/index.html -- actually pork shoulder is going to be more flavorful and juicy (unless you go for that lovely niman ranch brand -- but it is $$) -- the problem with freezing this pork shoulder is that it''ll take a long time to thaw before you can roast it. do you really need to freeze all ahead? you can just marinate this overnight.
here is a crockpot version. http://www.ehow.com/how_4866446_make-...
so…dust off and try out your crockpot before they come. you'll get inspired!
---one night you can do a soft taco bar! you can make the taco meat ahead and freeze, then warm up, and have all the fixin's there (purchased of the grocery store salad bar for your ultimate convenience) for them to add-in as they desire. that will be really fun, too. and an easy guacamole is the supermarket brand of prepared guac called "wholly guacamole" -- actually more like a thick avocado sauce (but it has nice flavor).
another grilling idea would be lebanese or greek kabobs or indonesian or vietnamese satay. chicken, pork or lamb, as appropriate to the cuisine. i think those all could be marinated/frozen on the skewers (if they're stainless steel…i'm not so sure i'd consider it if the skewers might react or leach from the material other than stainless).
ok, i don't do a lot of freeze-ahead, because i just don't have room; however, that said, when i freeze some leftovers, some do better than others.
i've had success in freezing shrimp creole, chili, lasagne. meat sauce is always a great base, and freezes well. i've also had success with chicken curry -- but not one with potatoes (they turn grainy). i think i've had success with chicken and yellow rice (my fake paella).
don't forget, the SLOW COOKER is your friend. so many things can be done without a lot of prep, and you don't have to be "tending" it all day. one of my favorites i just mentioned over on the chick pea thread -- it is chicken leg quarters, chick peas that have been soaked, chicken broth, diced onion, & shan's chicken curry powder package (½ pkg).
and as always, i recommend using the reynolds slow cooker liners. terrific for zippy cleanup!
also, prep a bunch of peeled and prepped veggies at one time and keep in zip locks, then it makes cooking with them a lot quicker. prep carrots, celery, onions like this. i use frozen chopped mixed bell peppers A LOT! the bell peppers don't do too well cut ahead.
Thanks for the replies! That's a good idea to have a lot of prep stuff pre-done. I need to investigate the crock-pot thing-I rarely use mine except to soak beans and keep things warm at the holidays! I always seem to end up with an amorphous blob of whatever when I try to prepare a meal in my crockpot.
We'll have pasta with the meatballs/sauce. I guess I should have mentioned that I really don't like to freeze rice, beans or potatoes because of the texture issue. We'll probably do steaks on our grill at least one night-they're very impressed with the size (and price!) of quality beef here in the US. They love sitting outside when they visit so we may grill again. Any killer pork or chicken recipes out there? Maybe something I could freeze in a marinade?
I think I'll make a gumbo as well but I'm going to have to watch the seasoning. I'm Cajun and tend to have a heavy hand with the red pepper!
I'm planning on roasting a turkey breast to have on hand for sandwiches. I also have a couple of Groupons for Whole Foods that I'm planning on spending on some nice cheeses.
It's kind of intimidating to cook for the family of a chef!
If you are prepping onions in advance, your cooking will go faster if you freeze the chopped/sliced onion in a baggie. Do not thaw. Pry off the amount you need. Because freezinng ruptures the cell walls, onions cook faster from frozen than freshly-prepped ones do. They will be very soft so not suitable if you want distinct pieces of onion in the finished dish.
Meatloaf freezes well and from other threads it seems that some Europeans have never had it, though they are familiar with meatballs and frikadellen.
I'll bet you wind up eating out more than you think you will, if your busy days run late. Also, the children would enjoy trying some of the foods their American counterparts eat so I hope the adults lower their standards a bit to allow for something like a corn dog or hushpuppies.
ooohhh this is great that they sitting out....if your weather is great (it is just now time to enjoy the grill with out melting from the heat here!) grill as much as possible! Hamburgers, hot dogs, a couple of salads. or chicken, pork and of course the steaks you mentioned!
I always think a ham is good to have on hand...good for so many things ..sandwiches, with or in eggs, biscuits, etc