Freezer Food: For When Life is a Dick

Sometimes, life kicks you in the balls.

And when life has punched you in the stomach and you are picking your teeth up off the floor, my recommendation is: mix your metaphors and make some food.

What I mean is this: sometimes you’ve got to make a meal when someone has just had a baby. Or because someone has died. (Not for the dead person…for the alive people…. you know.) Or you need to cook when someone is in the hospital or if someone is just plain going through a hard time. A freezer meal. Something that can defrost easily and reheat well.

Cause let’s be honest. Life can be cruel and you need your teeth for teethin’, your stomach for eatin’ and your balls for ballin’.

Parker’s Beef Stew from Barefoot Contessa via Food Network 

via FoodNetwork.com

via FoodNetwork.com

  • 2 ½ pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • ½ pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in half
  • 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups or chicken stock or broth
  • 1 large or 2 small branch fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas

Note: You will need to plan ahead for this recipe. Beef needs to marinate overnight. So get your shit together, please!

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight. 

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you’ll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes via Martha Stewart 

via marthastewart.com

via marthastewart.com

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving

COOK’S NOTE

To Freeze: Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.

To Bake From Frozen: Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Note: Watch this. It didn’t seem to bake through the center from frozen like…ever.

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