Monday, December 28, 2009

Request: Go-To Meals -- Here, here!

I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but I'd like to second the request for go-to meals. We could desperately use ideas around our house these days. I'd also love to get ideas for freezer meals that turn out well; I've had good luck turning a few of the recipes on here into freezer meals (doubling the recipe, freezing half for later) but I'd love pointers, tips, or even just links to your favorites for freezing.

My only contribution in the go-to meals department isn't so much a recipe as a technique I use a lot for chicken and pork chops. For chicken, we use bone-in, skin-on pieces; for pork chops, we usually go with bone-in center cuts. The bones and skin add a lot of flavor.

In a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (don't use EVOO or butter; they'll burn) over medium-high heat until shimmering and just beginning to smoke. Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add meat to skillet skin side down; cook until well browned (you'll know when it's ready because the meat will release easily from the skillet; if it sticks, it isn't finished cooking.) Turn meat over, cover pan with lid, and reduce heat to medium. Cook through. This usually takes no more than 10-15 minutes and can take a lot less, depending on how thick your meat is.

We love this because you can do a lot of things with it: sprinkle on any herb or spice mixture you like with the salt and pepper; top chicken with fresh tomatoes and basil, salsa, just about anything; or deglaze the pan after the meat is done and use the fond to make a quick pan sauce. If I pull a pack or two of meat out of the freezer once a week, I can whip up a couple of last-minute meals when I need them.

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