By Chef Selwyn Richards
Some nights we have a lot more time to cook than others. When you do have extra time, try to cook an extra batch of food, stick it in the freezer and then just grab a meal that’s ready to be heated and served, out of the freezer.
This works wonders on the days when we’re really busy, and leading up to the holidays, this happens more often than not. Here’s a list of things you can either cook in batches, or cook while you’re working on that day’s regular dinner, and then freeze for later.
* Lasagna — anything from regular meat versions to vegetarian ones. Just assemble and freeze, then bake as usual, straight from the freezer (See this week’s recipe, Manicotti My Way, for a great freezer pasta dish).
* Soups or Stews — Almost any type of soup or stew freezes well. Cook these in double batches and freeze one. The only exception I’m aware of, is chicken and dumplings. The dumplings just don’t turn out well when they are frozen. Some soups, with chunks of potatoes, can also get mushy, so test a small batch first.
* Chili — You can make any type of chili. Just double your favorite recipe, remove one half before you serve it, and freeze it. When you’re ready to eat your frozen leftovers, let the chili defrost in the fridge throughout the day, before heating, otherwise add the frozen chili to a pot with a bit of warm water and slowly heat it up.
* Casseroles — Almost any casserole freezes well. Keep a few of these in the freezer to eat for dinner or to take to potlucks or a sick friend or family member.
Take some time this week, or over the weekend, to stock your freezer with a few ready-to-heat-and-serve meals. You’ll appreciate these convenient meals after a long day. Plus they taste much better, and are healthier and cheaper than the stuff you buy in the freezer section of your grocery store.
Chef Selwyn’s Cooking Tip:
Rules For Freezing Meat
When freezing red meat or poultry, wrap it very tightly or seal it in a plastic bag to prevent air spoilage or freezer burn. Be sure not to pile pieces on top of each other, but do pack meat as flat as possible so it freezes quickly, which will ensure its texture is not spoiled. Meat should be completely thawed in the refrigerator before cooking. Never thaw poultry at room temperature or you risk salmonella contamination
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: email@example.com or by phone — (905) 619-1059.