With one storm behind us and more to come in the next few months – not to mention the prospect of incoming visitors for the holidays – wouldn’t this be the right time to fill your freezer with more than casseroles and ice bags?
Here’s a heaping helping of make-ahead dishes:
Beef and Guinness Stew
The meat is meltingly tender, the broth has hints of caraway and stout. With parsnips, carrots and turnips in the mix, you won’t miss the usual potatoes.
To make sure you have enough lean meat for the stew, buy a larger piece than you need. For this recipe, we bought a 3.27-pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed it of all visible fat, then cut it into 1-inch cubes. The yield was slightly more than 2 1/2 pounds. Serve with warm brown bread.
Make ahead: Freeze the cooled stew in 1- or 2-serving portions for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator during the day; reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
2 to 2 1/2 pounds cubed boneless chuck (see headnote)
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium-to-large onions, chopped (5 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups no-salt-added beef broth
12 ounces Guinness Stout
1 tablespoon dried currants (may substitute dark raisins)
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
2 or 3 medium carrots (5 ounces total), peeled and roll-cut (1 1/2 cups; see note)
About 3 parsnips (5 or 6 ounces total), peeled and roll-cut into 1/2 -inch thick pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1 (8-ounce) turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Combine the flour, salt and meat in a large resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal and shake to coat evenly.
Heat a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add half the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add half the meat, shaking off any excess flour back into the bag. Cook for several minutes, until the meat is browned on all sides but not cooked through, turning it as needed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cubes to a bowl; repeat with the remaining oil and meat. Discard any excess flour.
Use a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, then add the onions and stir to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until just softened, then clear a spot at the center of the pot and add the tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes, until the tomato paste is fragrant. Stir in the broth and beer.
Return all the meat to the pot, along with the dried currants, caraway seed and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, parsnips and turnip; reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high; once the stew comes to a boil, cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Makes about 10 cups (8 servings).
Note: To produce roll-cut pieces on linear vegetables such as carrots and parsnips, make a cut on the diagonal, then rotate a quarter-turn before you make the next cut.
– Adapted from The New Way to Cook Light (Oxmoor House, 2012)
Pork and Ricotta Meatballs
Even defrosted and reheated, these meatballs are light and full of flavor. Use them atop pasta (with basil leaves and cheese as garnishes) or in long rolls, with a sauce or slaw.
Make ahead: Place the meatballs on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer the meatballs to a freezer-safe resealable plastic food storage bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator during the day, then reheat on a baking sheet (tops brushed with a little olive oil) in a 325-degree oven until thoroughly heated through.
1/2 cup day-old bread, cubed
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds ground pork (20 percent fat)
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 to 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, for garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Combine the bread and milk in a medium bowl, allowing time for the milk to be absorbed. Loosely squeeze the soaked bread, then transfer it to a mixing bowl.
Add the pork, ricotta, garlic, shallot, parsley, lemon zest, the ground coriander and cinnamon and the salt, then use your clean, damp hands to gently combine the mixture and form 12 to 15 meatballs of equal size (about 2 inches wide).
Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.
Heat the oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add half of the meatballs and cook for 2 or 3 minutes per side until evenly browned, turning them as needed and making sure they are cooked through.
Transfer to the wire rack; repeat with the remaining meatballs. (You do not need to add more oil to the skillet.)
At this point, the meatballs can be served with basil and cheese on top. Or they can be thoroughly cooled, then stored according to the make ahead directions, above. Makes 12 to 15 meatballs (4 or 5 servings).
– Adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers, by Michael Symon with Douglas Trattner (Clarkson Potter, 2012)
Spicy Carrot, Tomato, Chorizo and Cilantro Soup
Here’s a soup that is bright and hearty, without being too heavy. Serve with wedges of crusty bread.
Make ahead: Freeze the cooled soup flat, in quart-size freezer-safe resealable plastic food storage bags, for up to 3 months. To reheat, defrost in the refrigerator during the day or place in a large bowl of tepid water, then transfer to a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until heated through.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
8 ounces (2 links) fresh chorizo, casings removed
14 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
14 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into very small chunks
3 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into small chunks
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 quart no-salt-added chicken broth
3 or 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
14 ounces canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime (1 or 2 tablespoons)
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and chorizo, breaking the sausage into pieces as you drop it in. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the carrots, sweet potatoes and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the crushed red pepper flakes (to taste), cumin seed, ground coriander and ground turmeric; cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and the broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
Transfer about four ladlefuls of the soup to a blender. Add half of the cilantro and half of the chickpeas. Remove the center knob of the blender lid to allow steam to escape and hold a clean kitchen towel over the opening. Pureé until smooth, then pour the pureed soup back into the pot, adding the remaining cilantro and chickpeas and half of the lime juice. Stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding the remaining lime juice as needed.
Serve hot, or cool completely and portion into freezer-safe resealable plastic food storage bags. Freeze flat. Makes about 10 cups (8 to 10 servings).
– Adapted from The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook, by Ghillie James (Kyle, 2012)
Tart-sweet with a hint of dill, this side dish would work alongside roasted fish or add color to a holiday table.
Make ahead: The cooled rice can be frozen in a freezer-safe resealable plastic food storage bag for up to 1 month. To reheat, transfer to a microwave-safe bowl; sprinkle with water and cover with plastic wrap. Reheat on low for 20-second intervals until the rice is partially steaming. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
8 ounces fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
A few fronds dill
3 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
Grate the orange peel to yield 1 teaspoon, then cut several thin strips of peel (no pith) and reserve for finishing the dish. Squeeze 3 tablespoons of juice from the orange directly into a large saucepan.
Add the grated zest, cranberries, honey, sugar and a pinch each of salt and pepper to the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until all the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened. Taste, and add sugar as needed; it should be a little tart.
Finely chop the dill to yield 2 teaspoons.
Gently stir in the cooked rice and dill, cooking until just heated through. Garnish with strips of orange peel. Serve hot, or remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, then store according to the make ahead directions, above. Makes about 3 1/2 cups (4 servings).
– Adapted from Whole Grains for a New Generation: Light Dishes, Hearty Meals, Sweet Treats, and Sundry Snacks for the Everyday Cook, by Liana Krissoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012)