HOME > Chowhound > Kosher >


Best frozen lunch main course last day of a 3-day chag

What solutions are there for making a main course ahead, freezing it, and thawing it on the second day to eat on the third day (Shabbat) of a a three day chag? I mean what would freeze well, reheat gracefully, be "dry" enough to reheat on a blech, and taste wonderful?

My motivation is the desire to do some of the cooking ahead and to put some of the food in the freezer to free up refrigerator space eruv chag and on the first day, when space is at a premium.

I'm thinking, perhaps meatloaf?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This doesn't answer your question precisely, but I'm just wondering why you wouldn't freeze a non-dry recipe, thaw it on Friday, and put it up on the belch before shabbat. It could just be that I tend towards wetter recipes over dry ones, so I don't have many (or even any) dry ones to recommend.

    Here's what I plan to make for Sukkot, perhaps for the shabbat meals. I don't plan to freeze it, but I don't see why you couldn't.

    Barbecue Pulled Chicken (adapted from a recipe in Eating Well Feb-March 2006)
    8 servings

    8-ounce can tomato sauce
    4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
    3 tablespoons cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (make sure it's a type without fish, for use in the meat recipe)
    2 teaspoons dry mustard
    1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 -- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1 onion, chopped or vertically sliced
    1 clove garlic, minced

    1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a pot until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
    2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, probably about 2 hours.
    3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce and stir well.

    7 Replies
    1. re: queenscook

      Queenscook, the answer is that while many people do reheat things like chicken in sauce on Shabbos, others of us only place things on a blech that are yavesh, i.e., fully cooked before Shabbat and that, while they may be moist, are not swimming in juiced. Like a kugel.

      From a culinary perspective, I was seeking advice because freezing then rewarming on a blech is a cruel way to treat good food, and I was looking for experienced cooks who would share experience on which "yavesh" main dishes survive such treatment best.

      Thanks for that pulled chicken recipe, it sounds yummy and I'm eager to try it. Life is simply better since Ashkenazim discovered things like chile peppers.

      1. re: AdinaA

        I used to use a Kadera blech (it's filled with water) basically a steam table. Food never dried out on it.

        1. re: berel

          What made you stop using the kadera?

          1. re: AdinaA

            too much work to set up and remove. Scooping out the water until it was light enough to carry to the sink was a drag

          2. re: berel

            I still use a kadera blech. I agree that it is a minimal pain to get rid of the water after shabbos, but the advantages outweigh that. You don't have to do the "hold on to the pot" thing, nor even keep in mind that you plan to return it to the blech. (Particularly good when I use my 12 quart stockpot for soup.) Also, after a while we were able to better judge how much water to put in so that there wouldn't be as much left over in it after shabbos. I was never successful with a regular blech; things would burn or not get hot enough, which is never a problem with the kadera blech. The scoop out is just part of shabbos clean-up now, and I'll never go back!! (Even got one for Pesach, even though it's only used two days a year, at most.)

          3. re: AdinaA

            You've missed my point entirely. I, too, am strict about not putting anything wet on a belch on Shabbos. My husband has pointed out that even kugels which seem to be pretty dry, may be too wet to put up, as are the baked sweet potatoes we always have on Shabbos (they exude lots of moisture, so now we leave them up all shabbos). However, my suggestion was to make the wet dish, freeze it until Friday morning, let it thaw, heat it up late Friday afternoon WHILE IT'S STILL YOM TOV (and for which you have made the eruv tavshilin), and put it on the belch you will be setting up BEFORE Shabbos.

            I won't be doing this exactly, since I will have enough room in my fridge for the pulled chicken and/or meatballs in sauce for shabbos, and won't be freezing or thawing anything, but otherwise this is my plan for Sukkos.

            1. re: queenscook

              I apologize. I did misunderstand. I have had good luck with things like tomatoes overnight in a crock pot, where the temperature can be controlled. But have not done anything this ambitious in overnight cooking in years, by ambitious I mean the complex sweet-savory, sour melding in the sauce, and the need to keep it from cooling to the point of becoming a bacteria culture, without heating it so that the liquids boil off or it becomes burnt-tasting.

              But, since you have had success with this, I will try it. Just I won't try it the first time for a lunch when I'm expecting a couple of dozen guests.

        2. A roast will freeze well and can be served sliced at room temp (we make deli sandwiches with it on Shabbos lunch) or reheated above a hot side. Side dishes usually do not freeze well so we leave it on the blech overnight. Alternatively, we serve grilled chicken caesar salad (we don't freeze it, though). Or make an extra roast chicken, freeze it and then cut it up on Shabbos morning for a low-fat curried chicken salad . Again, reheated main dishes on Shabbos are not usually good, in my opinion.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cappucino

            I do a veal shoulder roast. I separate it from the gravy. You can slice the meat, wrap it tightly in foil, and freeze. Freeze the gravy in a separate container. Defrost it, and warm the foil wrapped package on the blech, far away from the flame, so it doesn't get too warm, or dry out. Let the defrosted container of gravy sit out to get to room temperature, and serve with the meat.
            This can be done with any kind of a roast.

          2. There's always the Israeli standby - chicken schnitzel - which freezes well, and defrosts and heats up quickly. I use breadcrumbs made from leftover homemade challah to jazz it up a little.
            Taking off on your meatloaf idea, what about a Pinwheel Meat Roll, a la "Haimishe Kitchen"? It's basically a layer of seasoned ground beef topped with a layer of mashed potatoes rolled up, frozen just till stiff enough to cut easily, sliced and broiled? You can then freeze the individual slices until Shabbos morning. It's a patcherei, but fun. I made it just once, for Shabbos Succos, and all the kids present loved it.
            Both of these dishes are useful in that you can defrost the amount you'll need, adjusting for last -minute guests, overloaded appetites, etc.

              1. I have the following already in my freezer for yom tov/Shabbos
                1.stuffed cabbage
                2.Italian meatballs and sauce
                3. shnitzel
                4 pre-sliced roast beef, corned beef , turkey breast and pastrami
                5.Duck sauce/ketchup chicken

                1. Do deli meats, salads like egg salad and cucumber salad, chopped liver with good rye bread. I like a green salad with chopped leftover chicken for shabbos lunch.

                  1. I'd be very very careful about defrosting and then warming anything, especially meat overnight on a blech. If the temperature is not high enough, you may be creating a petri dish where bacteria can grow. Much better to have cold or room temperature food, or keep a crock pot or oven on for the entire period from Wednesday until Saturday night so you can get the food hot enough to prevent bacteria, or to have food that isn't hot than to risk some really nasty food poisoning.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: lburrell

                      But you can defrost it and then bring it up to a high enough temperature on the stovetop or in the oven on erev shabbat, before you set up the belch. That's why you make the eruv tavshilin.

                      1. re: queenscook

                        meatloaf on the blech?

                        I am still voting for (and will be doing) cholent.

                        For Sukkot...prior to the Yom Tov I carve out a pumpkin and then serve (not cook) the cholent in the pumpkin.

                        1. re: vallevin

                          Vallevin, Do you leave the crock pot plugged in an turned on for three days? With the crockery pot out or in (albeit empty until Friday)?

                          1. re: AdinaA

                            My preference is a burner with a huge pot of hot water and an oven that has controls that allow it to be turned down when not heating, preventing heating, rather than turning down the heated coils. If I used a crock pot, I keep it filled with water and the empty the water before putting in the food. I make sure what I put in it is hot. It's another big risk to heat stuff from room temperature to warm in a crock pot.

                              1. re: vallevin

                                Thanks. That would work, and I had not thought of it. I already ordered the meat fot Sukkot, but for Simchat Torah I am definitely going to use your approach and start the cholent season with something spectacular. I usualy do it on Shabbat Sukkot, but, I really hadn't thought that you could leave a heating element like a crock pot plugged in but unused for two days.

                                1. re: AdinaA

                                  If you leave it plugged in I would suggest leaving water in the insert until you're ready to prep your cholent. Another approach(if you/your rabbi approves) is to leave a timer plugged in and turn on/plug in the crock pot while the timer is off on Friday, then the timer will turn on and it will work as usual.

                          2. re: queenscook

                            Thanks, queenscook, right on as usual. Exactly my point. that's what leaving on the oven, crock pot or burner is for, and of course the eruv Tavshilin. [which I didn't want to try to spell, so left it out of my post. :) ] However, I was concerned that no other posts mentioned this problem and the original seemed to assume there was no need to get the food hotter than simply defrosted.

                        2. After the tzom here, sitting down for a few minutes before I get to work on the next chag ... There seems to be some confusion. I believe the OP was asking for "dry" dishes that could be briefly reheated on a blech on Shabbat morning, not left overnight. A dvar yavesh is a food that was completely cooked before Shabbat and is in a dry state (eg, challah, schnitzel, most kugels).

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: almond tree

                            Dry or not, there can still be a bacteria problem with defrosted food being heated on a blech. There's bound to be a certain amount of moisture present in defrosted food. Quite enough, possibly to permit bacteria to grow. Kugel with egg would be a particularly dangerous choice. They use eggs to grow bacteria for medical research and vaccines.

                            1. re: lburrell

                              if food is frozen immediately, defrosted in the refrigerator and on a blech a couple of hours I doubt there's much time for bacterial growth

                              1. re: lburrell


                                I have never had a problem with food taken from the refrigerator on Shabbat morning and set on the blech to warm for lunch.

                                Where I have had a problem is with soups and stews left on an old-fashioned stove-top blech overnight. If the heat is too high they cook to the point of not tasting good, if too low they can indeed incubate bacteria, so you have to get it just right. And getting the temperature just right can be hard to do.

                                That is why crockpots are such a blessing. They let you put the food in on Friday and have it come out just right on Saturday. It's not your grandmother's cholent anymore because the just-right temperature control produces complex dishes that really taste good.

                              2. re: almond tree

                                Almond tree, yes, that is exactly what I was asking.

                                From a culinary perspective, I was seeking advice because freezing then rewarming on a blech is a cruel way to treat good food, and I was looking for experienced cooks who would share experience on which "yavesh" main dishes survive such treatment best.

                                1. re: AdinaA

                                  At the end of the day, I think most people do not in fact defrost frozen food to be warmed on the blech for Shabbos. Most of us whip up a pot of cholent/stew and serve other cold/room temperature sides like schnitzel and cold cuts, chicken salads. This is the reason. I think the freeze in advance thing is best used on Yom Tov when you can get the stuff piping hot. They Yavesh issue is a concern which adds itself to the pot. Not everyone knows that you are not permitted to heat up a dish that will have a wet sauce. I once had a neighbor who was obsessed with figuring out a way to warm up her meatballs without the sauce and finally had to "let it go." Have I killed enough time before I have to go out and shop for the Succos food supplies I forgot and need in order to cook and bake today? Yeesh. I love these holidays but the 3-day thing is a trip and it's two years in a row now. :) Hope all have a sweet, happy Succos.

                                  1. re: cappucino

                                    Have fun. I also love this chag, but I have a big sukkah in a city where many people have no sukkah except the one at shul, so I do six meals for about 30 people each meal for three days. It takes considerable planning, plus butchers, bakers and candlemakers who deliver to the door.

                                    1. re: AdinaA

                                      Aah, but you will have the merit of having a large contingent of Ushpizin (guests) at your Sukkah which is part of the spirit of the holiday. May you have the strength to pull it off and the plastic tablecloth supply to pull it off with greater ease. I remember the year we ran out of plastic tablecloths...oy....

                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                        We're pretty much in the same situation. Same number of meals, not quite so many people and no one who delivers!! I'm vegan, my husband is a major carnivore and where we live a lot of people have various food "issues." So these 6 meals are a real challenge. A lot of planning. I find that making a lot of rice, quinoa and pasta and storing in (a very stuffed refrigerator) along with buying a lot of vegetables is a major help. Canned grape leaves and artichokes and a few other staples in the pantry also. Biggest advantage is that we live in Berkeley, a veritable Gan Eden this time of year.
                                        And like you, Adina, I find planning is key. May we all have a joyous Sukkot and many blessings the coming year.

                                        1. re: lburrell

                                          Plus, in Berkeley the skies will be clear. so you don't need to imagine how to set up the house so that you can shift the meal indoors if the heavens open. It has occurred to me that this holiday was designed for life in a land where the skies are always clear for this chag. Not in a place like New York or London, where it may rain, or Canada, where it might even snow or get so cold that the soup will freeze.


                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                            Ah, would that the clear skies were true. Unfortunately, this year, our rainy season began early. Usually September and early October are warm and dry. Not this year. Huge cloud bursts and storm last Thursday and more predicted for this week. La Nina brings long cold rainy seasons. Last year's paused only briefly in September. Started up again last week. After seven years of drought we are now being blessed, for the second year in a row, with both the "early rain" and the "late rain."
                                            An opportunity to adjust, adapt (including being ready to move inside) and be joyful, even when wet. :)

                                2. I decided ot go with this Baked Lebanese kibbe from the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/din...

                                  Roasts are good, but Sukkot it the one week a year when I cave and use paper and plastic. I hate to confront with the need to cut beef with plastic cutlery.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                    If you make a cholent on friday yom tov for shabbos, you should probably put it up in the morning so it is fully cooked by shabbos. I believe it is a Machlokes, so aylor.

                                    1. re: israelbound

                                      My cholent usually does not take all day to get cooked enough by Shabbos. I believe it is required to be 3/4 cooked, but either way, if you heat it on a higher flame with enough water, it should take only a couple of hours at most. The issue is watching it.

                                      1. re: israelbound

                                        Just to throw in my 2 agorot's worth yet again - I have had good results with freezing precooked cholent (beans, barley, onions and spices, with or without meat according to guests, but NOT including potatoes), boiling it up before Shabbos, then putting it onto plata.