We've been saying we were going to do it for a couple of years now, and we finally did it. My husband and I bought a chest freezer. What on earth (you might ask) would possess a young couple living in a cramped New York apartment and expecting their first child to make such an outlandish purchase? After all, it's enough of a challenge to figure out where to store all of the baby gear without adding another large appliance to the mix.
Well, I've got news. The chest freezers of old, those massive, hulking objects reminiscent of Victorian-era steamer trunks, have been joined by a younger, sleeker breed. It was this stainless steel beauty that caught our eye last week and convinced us to finally take the plunge. It's nestled into a back corner of our dining room, where we plan to throw a tablecloth over it and add a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit to complete the disguise.
Over the past 10 days or so, I've been cooking up meals to fill our new freezer. It seems I'm not alone in this endeavor, so I thought I'd share a list of some of the recipes I've already made or am planning to make to tide us over when all my husband and I have time to focus on is changing diapers and stealing a few precious moments of sleep wherever we can. Whether you're expecting or just looking to stock your own freezer with great meals that reheat beautifully, this list should be helpful. And please feel free to make more suggestions -- I've still got a week! -- Merrill
- Check out more soup and stew recipes on Food52.
- Browse wintry main dishes with which to stock your freezer.
- Got a question in the kitchen? The Food52 Hotline is here to help!
My mother has lots of signature dishes, but one of my favorites is also one of her simplest: she calls it chicken "stoup," because it's a hearty chicken soup with more meat and veggies than broth ("Stew" plus "soup" equals "stoup" -- get it?). Over the years, I've adopted it as a staple, perfect for when the weather starts to turn chilly. My stoup has evolved to be somewhat different from my mother's -- for example, I never include potatoes, and I go pretty heavy on the lemon juice, dill and black pepper at the end. I do believe it's worth the effort of buying chicken on the bone and cooking it right in the soup before taking it off the bone in order to create a really rich, reinforced broth. Sometimes I add a little pasta -- fusilli, farfalle -- right at the end (I cook it separately in plenty of salted water, until just al dente), but that's up to you. - Merrill Get the recipe Photo: Sarah Shatz
The most famous tomato sauce on the internet, from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. If you're making this in the winter, use good-quality canned tomatoes. - Genius Recipes Get the recipe Photo: William Brinson
I've been making the same basic butternut squash soup for years, adding twists and tweaks as I see fit, and it never fails to satisfy me when a chill enters the air. It's smooth and creamy, the way I think squash soup should be, and it's the perfect thing to whip up over the weekend to have in your fridge all week long. This version relies on sherry for depth and a little intrigue -- if you don't have sherry on hand, you can skip it, or just substitute with brandy (Madeira would be nice) if you have some lying around. - Merrill Get the recipe Photo: James Ransom
This dish was inspired by a recipe from Fine Cooking for chili con carne. We'd been eating a lot of beef recently, so I decided to try the chili with pork shoulder instead. Then, I thought I might reduce the liquid a little and get rid of the cannellini beans, so I'd end up with more of a thick stew than a soup. Maybe I should stuff the pork into corn tortillas, instead of serving it in bowls? And while I was at it, I might as well sub in aargersi's addictive, multi-purpose pickled onions for the plain old red onion, right? With these and a few other modifications, some delicious pork tacos were born -- all thanks to the fine folks at Fine Cooking. - Merrill Get the recipe Photo: Sarah Shatz
This is shepherd's pie meets moussaka -- a lamb ragout spiced with cinnamon, oregano, sumac and mint is blended with penne and feta and then topped with a cayenne-scented bechamel. After baking in the oven -- we turned up the heat to 450 degrees for the final 10 minutes -- it emerges crisp on the perimeter with a thick toasted bechamel cap. A few tips: remember to salt the pasta water and you should undercook the pasta because it will continue cooking in the later baking stage. And when you add the tomato paste to the lamb, let it toast a bit before adding the water. - Amanda & Merrill Get the recipe Photo: Sarah Shatz
The beauty of this soup is that it manages to be soul-warming but not overly heavy. The broth is light, and aromatic with wine and marjoram, and you feel like you've won the lottery each time you come across a piece of garlicky sausage. AntoniaJames has you simmer the lentils and veggies until they're just cooked through, so that they retain a bit of a bite and the soup, while filling, seems fresh rather than leaden. A sprinkle of red wine vinegar adds a bright hit of acidity. - Amanda & Merrill Get the recipe Photo: Sarah Shatz
Thanks to La452, we were reminded that the old-school russet makes an excellent mashed potato -- it's fluffy, soft and just loves to soak up butter. La452 adds sour cream and buttermilk, which give the potatoes a stroke of tanginess. And he boils the potatoes with peppercorns and garlic and leaves them in, so the mash is dotted with the soft black orbs. They're like little firebombs so if you don't like bursts of heat, crush them as you mash the potatoes. - Amanda & Merrill Get the recipe Photo: Sarah Shatz
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