Batch cooking ideas

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Hi KKF,

What are your favourite batch foods and recipes?

It is winter in the antipodes so we have had the usual suspects on high rotation: soup, stews and curries! It is easy to make these last for a week. We'd like to inject some more variety!

Feel free to cross post links to recipes, images or other favourites you have found on the web.

Thanks community!

[Edit: a discussion on preparation and technique is also welcome!]
 
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Bolognese. I make 16-17 quarts and freeze it for 4-6 month.

I should probably cook larger batches and put them in the freezer!

About a month ago I made a big pot of ragu. That was about 8-10 adult portions worth. The sauce keeps in the fridge and boiling up the pasta only takes a few minutes.

Been thinking about larger batch lasagne....
 

Michi

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Anything that will freeze well and is solid. Lasagne, pasta sauce, goulash, any kind of soup, mac and cheese, curry, you name it :)

Quite often, I package up a whole meal into largish Chinese food containers (capacity is nominally one litre, I think) and add rice and cooked veggies that freeze well (potato, carrots, etc). That way, I can pull out a whole meal and just go for it. If I'm feeling fancy, I can still add salad or another side serving of some kind.

I typically also have some bread or Brezen in the freezer because I usually can't eat all of what I make when bake before it gets stale. And I keep other things in there that I can turn into a meal quickly and easily. Steaks, sausages, and minced meat come to mind. Plus the usual collection of chicken and beef stock.

Freezers are useful things! :)
 
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That way, I can pull out a whole meal and just go for it. If I'm feeling fancy
Wouldn't know it by your posts on Whats cooking?!!

Yeah we freeze bread as well. Great for accompanying batch soup! We dont often do steaks. We view them as a treat and get really nice cuts to eat fresh... but sausages are great for freezing and throwing in a stew.

🤔 😃

I know that is another stew... but I haven't followed a goulash recipe before. That might be my next stew on the roster.
 
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Speaking of freezing meals....

Pasties are a good one... make your favourite filling and wrap them up in puff pastry:

DSC01711.jpg


Freeze them for easy meals later in the week. Goes nicely with baked beans or a simple salad.
 

Michi

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Wouldn't know it by your posts on Whats cooking?!!
Thanks! I like to cook. But not when I get home after work on a weeknight and I'm tired, and not when I'm under time pressure. For me, cooking is like a meditation. Spending quality time with myself and my ingredients.

So I'm not shy about pulling something out of the freezer. And a lot of what I cook is way too much to eat in one sitting anyway, so it's two birds with one stone.
I know that is another stew... but I haven't followed a goulash recipe before. That might be my next stew on the roster.
The problem with goulash is that there are as many authentic original recipes as you care to count.

The real deal has to have some caraway seed in it, and the beef/pork need to be cooked until very tender. Not quite to the fall-apart stage, but close. And the sauce needs to be thick and silky. If you have soupy goulash, it's all wrong.
You can find a whole treatise on it here: Gulasch. It's in German, but Google Translate might be of assistance. Towards the end are a few recipes. "Rindsgulasch" is the one for the most traditional version.
 

Michi

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Speaking of freezing meals....

Pasties is a good one... make your favourite filling and wrap them up in puff pastry:
Nice one! I also freeze various kinds of pies (English pork pie, Australian meat pie, etc.) Another thing that works well is Pizza Rustica. Very easy to reheat in the oven.
 
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Thanks! I like to cook. But not when I get home after work on a weeknight and I'm tired, and not when I'm under time pressure. For me, cooking is like a meditation. Spending quality time with myself and my ingredients.

That's beautiful! I know exactly what you mean. Thats why I started this thread!!

Me and my better half alternate weeks cooking.... during the week we slide into autopilot. We eat healthily and well but it would be nice to inject some new and efficient ideas into our routine.



Maybe I should put a little more planning into the goulash! Hehe.... I am very guilty of looking at several recipes, getting the 'vibe' of a dish... and then improvising my own version based on what we might like. Nothing wrong with the approach but it doesn't lend itself to authenticity!


I also freeze various kinds of pies (English pork pie, Australian meat pie, etc.)

Shepards pie is another good one. That can usually stretch us to three nights. Similarly; moussaka... havent made that since last winter.... making the bechamel can be fun.


Pizza Rustica
Huh! Thats interesting... Seem like a crispier pide. Could have a bit of fun with the fillings in those...
 

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Any kind of quiche or savory pie always becomes a multiday meal for me. It's just a matter of stacking enough heavy stuff in it. :D Once made a quiche with half a kilo of tallegio in it... tasted great but it was like filling yourself with cement.
 

WildBoar

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In the summer we make/ freeze a couple dozen batches of pesto, so we can eat it over the winter. You may be able to score large batches of basil at a restaurant store even though it is winter where you are at.

Lasagna is another that we do. But we mix up what we make; we made some a while back that had ground lamb and Morocco-ish spices. We've also gone with Greek flavor profile using ground lamb.

Braise a case of oxtails and shred/ freeze for quick meat sauces.

Make a few dozen meatballs and freeze in batches of 6-12.

Make pasta-based casseroles and freeze batches.
 
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Does anybody do "geometric series" meals (@ian 🧐)??

By which I mean... If I cook a big batch of stew... as I portion nightly quantities from the mother batch, I occasionally add cans of crushed tomatoes... or beans... or more veggies to extend the life of the mother batch.

Depends what the meal is... are there any other tips like that?
 
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Not really. It's a big fat Easter pie:

Huh! Interesting. The first link I clicked on had a more snacky variant. The quiche variant does look very hearty. Would go nice with a fast salad like you have done!

Once made a quiche with half a kilo of tallegio in it... tasted great but it was like filling yourself with cement.

🤣

I find thickening stocks with corn/flour can do that as well. The meals can be deceptively heavy...
 
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Michi

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Depends what the meal is... are there any other tips like that?
Friends of mine in California serve me "special chicken" each time I visit them. It's basically braised chicken pieces in a super-tasty sauce. That sauce consists of whatever goes into the sauce when you cook the chicken. Stock, wine, spices, etc. Because there is a lot of sauce, what is left over goes back into the "mother sauce" after the meal for next time.

My friends think that some small proportion of that sauce is probably well over ten years old. Works a bit like a solera for fortified wines :)
 

chefwp

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Bolognese. I make 16-17 quarts and freeze it for 4-6 month.
15lbs of short ribs when they are on sale. I braise them, defat and freeze.

Those 2 are my main.
I like this because you can do different things with it, pasta bolognese, lasagna, bolognese bites (crudite with toasted bagette rounds, topped with bolognese and shards of reggiano, a great finger food!)
 
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We're much like @Michi noted above.

Some of my favorites to freeze are chili, spaghetti sauce, rice dishes like Spanish rice, sausage and rice, etc. and I almost always have a frittata portioned out in the freezer. Although not ideal, you can zap a couple frozen frittata wedges in the microwave and have something to eat pretty quickly.
 

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Stuff I've done in batches / pre-prepped in the past:
-meatloaf / meatballs / meatsticks... you can take minced meat in any direction with what herbs and spices you add, whether you add onion, garlic or cheese, etc. Can also make it in any shape you find convenient. Just take out of freezer the day before.
-Sauces you throw on your steak (whether a mushroom sauce, cream sauce, basically anything that starts with stock) can be reused / dilluted to make risotto or rice dishes... or soup.
-some salads (the ones without leafy greens) also offer some flexibility, where you can use them as a fresh salad on one day and as a stuffing for grilled bellpepper or zucchini the next.
-In general if you have a nice non-salad stuffing mix you can still use it in multiple ways; might be worth preprepping several different ones in batches, and then you can whip up a nice meal in no time. Might even work straight from the freezer but I never tested that.
-I've sometimes made a nice 'fancified rice'; rice with finely chopped aromatics and cooked in stock (often with some soy / fish / oyster sauce), and you can then reuse this for multiple dishes over different days; make curry on one day, make fried rice the next, etc.
 

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I always have a stock of steam buns/egg rolls/dumplings in my freezer. You can make a bunch at one time and pull a few out when you want a snack or an easy side with dinner. I also like to make a bunch of curry house style base and freeze it. It's not really a full meal but whenever you want to use it you just defrost it and pop it into a pot and make curry with significantly less effort.
 

chefwp

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I don't tend to freeze a lot of 'final products,' most of my freezer space is taken up with 'building blocks,' like sausages, shrimp, stocks, bacon, ribs, various raw meats and etc. The exception is soups, I always at least double it up when I make borscht or Senegalese peanut soup to name a couple. The reason I don't freeze a ton of finished meals is twofold, 1- both the wife and I work from home now, so leftovers are always good for a few lunches, 2- I don't like the way the freezer changes the texture of some things, particularly rice, it can get really mushy after thawing turning a delicious jambalaya to a gross pasty dish. freezing can also break creamy dishes upon thaw and reheat.
For leftovers, I love the challenge of converting them into completely different dishes. Roast chicken on Sunday becomes many different things like chicken salad during the week. I never try to reheat fish the way I served it, it is almost always converted into a cold salad if there is any left over. Quesadillas can be filled with many leftovers. My favorite thing for leftover beefsteak or roast is to make nam tok, the Thai salad is a flavor bomb, I can say I sometimes enjoy that more than the original meal!

Here is my recipe for nam tok:

Nam Tok​

  • beef, about 1 lb, cooked as you desire, slice thinly against the grain when cool and cut into bite sized pieces (this is my go-to recipe for leftover beefsteak!)
  • juice of 2-3 limes and a healthy dose of fish sauce (2 Tbs-ish) and a bit of sugar or honey, let sweet stuff dissolve.
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced long-ways, so you have small thin strips (red onion would work too)
  • spiciness (I deseeded and de-ribbed a large jalapeno and sliced it thinly, if you like spicier, leave the ribs and seeds or go for those thin thai chilis or whatever you desire, could even be chili pepper flakes)
  • 1/3 cup each cilantro and mint leaves, just tear roughly into ¼ to ½ inch pieces
  • Optional tomato, I sometimes like to add strips of tomato petals, cut away the outer tomato of some small tomatoes like campari, reserve the juice, seeds and innards for another use, cut into bitesized pieces. About 4 or five golf-ball sized or slightly bigger maters.
  • Toasted processed jasmine rice to sprinkle on top (optional, toast to deep hazelnut color either in a dry pan or in the oven, process into small ‘crumbs’, I sometimes skip this unless I'm preparing a lot for a crowd)
mix it all up!
 

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Pasta dough freezes well and salsas, especially cooked ones does well in the freezer too. That's all I can think of that haven't been mentioned already..
 

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I like to freeze stuff that can become other stuff--this way, I'm not stuck defrosting the same meal many times. In the cold weather, I like simple braises--beef chuck braised in stock+aromatics is a favorite. This makes a good add for many different things--tacos, chili, bbq sandwiches, red wine sauced, etc. etc.
 
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I don't like the way the freezer changes the texture of some things

Great point... I cook texture to what I want to eat... even if I know I might freeze a meal. As a result some soft veggies turn to mush once they go through the freeze-thaw cycle. I should be more mindful to cook ingredients al dente (or even firmer) before freezing...
 

cooktocut

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I haven't found anything that doesn't do well frozen and reheated, if I'm being honest. The only exception would be curry, that after about a year the flavors are not nearly as bright, but certainly still delicious and edible, so I wouldn't even call it an exception. If it lasts 6 months in the freezer without any noticeable difference, I call that a win. I think the main difference is I vacuum seal everything. I use a chamber vac, and I will cool everything overnight first before sealing it and freezing it the following day so that I get every bit of oxygen out without any (or minimal) boiling. Stocks and soups and such will get divided into individual bags while still hot, then folded over and refrigerated in a giant sheet pan so as to lower the overall thermal mass. During the week, pretty much every single meal I eat is from a sous vide-warmed vacuum bag. This isn't to say that some things aren't better fresh... pie crusts, crunchy top of a finished casserole... mostly textural stuff though. I'm running low on everything, so I'm due for a frenzied weekend of cooking any day now. Here's a list of everything I had in the last batch, just to give an idea.

BBQ pork shoulder
BBQ brisket
BBQ beef cheeks
pastrami
chili
african peanut soup
bolognese
green, red, and yellow curry
shepherds pie
kalpudding
beef bourguignon
quiche
salmon chowder

I know I'm missing a few things, but that's most of it. So even a whole week of only eating out of my freezer, I am more than satisfied. The 4 proteins at the beginning allow me a little bit of creativity if the urge arises.
 
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