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Batch cooking: one large batch, many small meals. Share your ideas!


Marlene
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So as I mentioned I do a lot of batch cooking and that includes mac and cheese.  Well, penne and cheese or sometimes medium pasta shells since I'm not all that fond of macaroni for this dish.   This is made with a mix of cave aged gruyere, and aged white cheddar, onion and garlic and dijon mustard and pinch of cayenne.  The topping is panko and grated parmesan tossed in melted butter.  

penne and cheese.jpg

ready for oven.jpg

done.jpg

cheesy goodness.jpg

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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@Marlene 

 

Im interested in making bulk foods

 

\Ive mostly done this w SV => Frozen packs

 

is you mac and cheese fully cooked , cooled , then frozen ?

 

do you factor in the re-heating and add extra ' water ' so it does not dry out ?

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11 hours ago, rotuts said:

@Marlene 

 

Im interested in making bulk foods

 

\Ive mostly done this w SV => Frozen packs

 

is you mac and cheese fully cooked , cooled , then frozen ?

 

do you factor in the re-heating and add extra ' water ' so it does not dry out ?

Well here is one out of left field

You can actually make individual servings ready to be frozen.

Say for instance you want to make a potato bake.

What I do is take ramekins (small casserole dishes pie tins etc will do). Take parchment paper and screw it up (I just put the method reason in tips & trucs) and line the dishes.

Slice a few cloves of garlic and place at the bottom.

Use a mandolin and cookie cutter (the same size as the ramekin) to slice large potatoes to fill each dish. Any off cuts can be boiled to make mash potatoes which freezes OK.

Add a little cream to each dish top with shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake to your satisfaction in an oven.

Allow to cool. Put in the freezer,dish and all. When frozen, remove using the parchment (don't remove the parchment from the food) and vacuum seal in bags and freeze.

When ready to use take the frozen food parchment and all and put it back in the original dish allow to thaw, heat gently, remove the food from the dish, remove the parchment carefully.

If you use a tallish ramekin the finished product does look pretty impressive when plating.

 

A slight variation is when making meatloaf is to vacuum seal before cooking SV for 1 or 2 hours, then remove vacuum packaging and bake.

The original vacuum packaging compresses the meat nicely and the initial SV solidifies it   and you can remove it from the dish to oven finish but you miss out on any jelly that forms.

You can leave enough room to add gravy to the dish before finish baking.

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12 hours ago, rotuts said:

@Marlene 

 

Im interested in making bulk foods

 

\Ive mostly done this w SV => Frozen packs

 

is you mac and cheese fully cooked , cooled , then frozen ?

 

do you factor in the re-heating and add extra ' water ' so it does not dry out ?

 

I"m sorry, I didn't see this!   The mac and cheese is cooked in the sense the pasta and sauce is cooked, but it is not baked, though the pasta is cooked to less than al dente in this case.    Its then cooled, then I put the containers in the freezer for 24 hours to "harden them" then vacumn seal them.  If you try to vacumn seal right away the container just squishes.  I do add extra liquid usually because freezing will dehydrate stuff somewhat. So for say a spaghetti sauce, I make it "soupier" if that's the right word,then when its thawed and reheated its closer to the consistency it would be if it were cooked fresh.  For something like the mac and cheese, I thaw it first before baking and cover it with foil for the first 30 minutes.  Shepherd's pie, I cook straight from frozen and also cover it for the first 30 minutes or so.   Its not as much of an issue with straight liquids like a soup but for meaty dishes etc yes, I do and more liquid whether it be water or extra tomato sauce or extra broth.   We did a pork butt on the smoker a couple of weekends ago and we froze the leftovers in the same sort of container and added some of the bbq sauce to it. When I make burgers to freeze, I add some water to the mixture before forming the patties.   We're doing a brisket this weekend so will do the same.    

 

 

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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1 hour ago, Bernie said:

Well here is one out of left field

You can actually make individual servings ready to be frozen.

Say for instance you want to make a potato bake.

What I do is take ramekins (small casserole dishes pie tins etc will do). Take parchment paper and screw it up (I just put the method reason in tips & trucs) and line the dishes.

Slice a few cloves of garlic and place at the bottom.

Use a mandolin and cookie cutter (the same size as the ramekin) to slice large potatoes to fill each dish. Any off cuts can be boiled to make mash potatoes which freezes OK.

Add a little cream to each dish top with shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake to your satisfaction in an oven.

Allow to cool. Put in the freezer,dish and all. When frozen, remove using the parchment (don't remove the parchment from the food) and vacuum seal in bags and freeze.

When ready to use take the frozen food parchment and all and put it back in the original dish allow to thaw, heat gently, remove the food from the dish, remove the parchment carefully.

If you use a tallish ramekin the finished product does look pretty impressive when plating.

 

A slight variation is when making meatloaf is to vacuum seal before cooking SV for 1 or 2 hours, then remove vacuum packaging and bake.

The original vacuum packaging compresses the meat nicely and the initial SV solidifies it   and you can remove it from the dish to oven finish but you miss out on any jelly that forms.

You can leave enough room to add gravy to the dish before finish baking.

 

 

Love this for the potato bake. It's going on my list to try, thank you!

Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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On 10/12/2022 at 6:34 PM, Marlene said:

So as I mentioned I do a lot of batch cooking and that includes mac and cheese.  Well, penne and cheese or sometimes medium pasta shells since I'm not all that fond of macaroni for this dish.   This is made with a mix of cave aged gruyere, and aged white cheddar, onion and garlic and dijon mustard and pinch of cayenne.  The topping is panko and grated parmesan tossed in melted butter.  

penne and cheese.jpg

ready for oven.jpg

done.jpg

cheesy goodness.jpg

 

36 minutes ago, Marlene said:

 

I"m sorry, I didn't see this!   The mac and cheese is cooked in the sense the pasta and sauce is cooked, but it is not baked, though the pasta is cooked to less than al dente in this case.    Its then cooled, then I put the containers in the freezer for 24 hours to "harden them" then vacumn seal them.  If you try to vacumn seal right away the container just squishes.  I do add extra liquid usually because freezing will dehydrate stuff somewhat. So for say a spaghetti sauce, I make it "soupier" if that's the right word,then when its thawed and reheated its closer to the consistency it would be if it were cooked fresh.  For something like the mac and cheese, I thaw it first before baking and cover it with foil for the first 30 minutes.  Shepherd's pie, I cook straight from frozen and also cover it for the first 30 minutes or so.   Its not as much of an issue with straight liquids like a soup but for meaty dishes etc yes, I do and more liquid whether it be water or extra tomato sauce or extra broth.   We did a pork butt on the smoker a couple of weekends ago and we froze the leftovers in the same sort of container and added some of the bbq sauce to it. When I make burgers to freeze, I add some water to the mixture before forming the patties.   We're doing a brisket this weekend so will do the same.    

 

 

 

This is great. And exactly how I would imagine the pasta ought be done.

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We're going to do our Sunday dinner on Sat this time and we'll kick it off with putting these on the smoker at about 4 am.  Whole brisket cut in half, rubbed with a chili garlic and a touch of cinnamon mixture.   Its a lot of meat you say?  well yes, yes it is.  We'll serve this on buns with the bbq sauce I make up tomorrow and a roasted bbq potato salad that I'll make up tonight.  The lad who is not a lad anymore, will take some for lunches for a couple of days and the rest we'll portion into single serve containers and freeze and we will split those between the two of us. 

 

 

brisket.jpg

brisket rubbed.jpg

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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4 am sure comes early and it's dark!  By the time the smoker was ready and I'd had a cup of coffee so I could open both eyes, these went on at 5 am.   They aren't quite to the stall yet, but getting close, then we'll wrap them in foil and put them back on till they are 204 or so then into a cooler for an hour.  Got the bbq sauce made (I blend it for a smoother sauce) and the bbq oven roasted potato salad. ( you'd think I'd learn to clean plates and bowls before photographing but um, no apparently not lol )   I've been experimenting with this potato salad for a couple of years and its really become our favourite.  

 

 

not quite to the stall.jpg

sauce.jpg

sauce blended.jpg

potato salad.jpg

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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@Marlene 

 

thank you so much for

 

posting the various stages of your

 

efforts.

 

ay I ask what sort of '' smoker "' you use ?

 

Im very curious of all sorts of types etc.

 

Id very much like to hear more on

 

your Potato Salad .

 

when y0ou might get to ti .

 

many thanks .

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54 minutes ago, rotuts said:

@Marlene 

 

thank you so much for

 

posting the various stages of your

 

efforts.

 

ay I ask what sort of '' smoker "' you use ?

 

Im very curious of all sorts of types etc.

 

Id very much like to hear more on

 

your Potato Salad .

 

when y0ou might get to ti .

 

many thanks .

 

 

:) I'm using a pellet smoker, a traeger timberline 850.  I'm using cherry pellets for this with beer based mop every couple of hours.   I had a green egg and sold it and bought the Traeger 4 years ago and I love it.  It also has a super smoke function so if you want a heavier smoky taste you can use that as well because pellet smokers do not give as much of a smoke flavour as charcoal and wood does.  

 

For the potato salad, I use baby reds, then quarter them, toss them in olive oil salt and pepper,  and roast till they're done and browned.  To the dressing, I not only add 1/4 cup miracle whip (yes I know lol) to the mayonnaise but also BBQ sauce. along with dijon, worchestershire, a pinch   of old bay spice ,   and a  bit of apple cider vinegar.  Both the miracle whip and the bbq sauce give it an extra tang if you will that is not usually present in most potato salads.  To the potatoes when they are done I add chopped green onion, crisp bacon and hard boiled eggs. 

Edited by Marlene (log)
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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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They hit the stall and we wrapped them and put them back on the smoker then I used my wireless probes to monitor to 205 then took them off and stuck them in the cooler for an hour.  We sliced the flat for dinner and left the point in the cooler and when we took that out to package it is was just about pullable.  We kept a couple of the containers aside for leftovers tomorrow, sauced the rest and they will go into the freezer over night and vacuum sealed in the morning.  All in all about a 13 hour smoke and then an hours rest 

 

 

foiled.jpg

into the cooler.jpg

probes.jpg

probes2.jpg

ready for slicing.jpg

sliced.jpg

dinner.jpg

packaging.jpg

sauced.jpg

freezer.jpg

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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9 minutes ago, Marlene said:

We kept a couple of the containers aside for leftovers tomorrow, sauced the rest and they will go into the freezer over night and vacuum sealed in the morning.

 

How will you reheat these particular dinners when the time comes?

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These I will thaw first if they are frozen, then cover with foil and reheat in a low 225 oven for about half an hour maybe 3/4 of an hour, and will warm the buns first too. 

 

(meant to quote you Smithy but managed to mess that up ) 

Edited by Marlene (log)
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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Just now, CookBot said:

 

Not only do the briskets look superb, but that cutting board is gorgeous too.

 

Thank you!   I love it. So much so that my son gave me a smaller version of it for Christmas last year.  

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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57 minutes ago, Marlene said:

They hit the stall and we wrapped them and put them back on the smoker then I used my wireless probes to monitor to 205 then took them off and stuck them in the cooler for an hour.  We sliced the flat for dinner and left the point in the cooler and when we took that out to package it is was just about pullable.  We kept a couple of the containers aside for leftovers tomorrow, sauced the rest and they will go into the freezer over night and vacuum sealed in the morning.  All in all about a 13 hour smoke and then an hours rest 

 

 

foiled.jpg

into the cooler.jpg

probes.jpg

probes2.jpg

ready for slicing.jpg

sliced.jpg

dinner.jpg

packaging.jpg

sauced.jpg

freezer.jpg

WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!

 

Amazingly deliciously looking.  Nice job!!!!

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1 minute ago, Shelby said:

WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!

 

Amazingly deliciously looking.  Nice job!!!!

 

Thank you!   A long day but so worth it :)

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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In our household we make large batches of chili and split pea soup, then freeze them for later use. We'll be hitting the road soon with the contents of those two batch cooks occupying part of the freezer, like the top part of this photo:

 

20161103_080219-600x1067.thumb.jpg.48bc6fe88c3bb27ab01cb47df1c2d8bf.jpg

 

I look forward to more ideas, and demonstrations of how to do it nicely -- that is, with good results at the end. The convenience of being able to decide in the morning what to have at night, and then simply pull it out of the freezer, is very attractive.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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I really got into more batch cooking 5 years ago, and the pandemic ramped that up even more as you never knew what the grocery store would be out of at any given time.  One day you could buy bread but not yeast or flour for example.   Currently I have on hand, spaghetti sauce, beef stew, chili, shepherd's pies, penne and cheese, brisket, pulled pork, small containers of beef gravy (because sometimes a girl just needs fries and gravy!), bacon , brioche buns and chocolate muffins

 

I always make large batches of chicken and turkey stock frozen in 2 cup portions and those are easy to pull out to make up a quick soup.   I'll buy  chicken in bulk from costco and freeze them individually and then can take out say a chicken breast to roast up quickly to add to the chicken stock base for soup.  The hamburger packages there are perfect for spaghetti and shepherd's pie batching. 

 

Over the next couple of weeks, I will need to work on some batch soups as dental surgery is going to require at least a couple of weeks of liquid and soft foods.  Other things I regularly batch make in individual portions are:

 

chicken pot pies (grocery store rotisserie chickens are great for these if you don't happen to have a left over roast chicken hanging about)

Beef pot pies

Cheese souffles

parmesan gnocchi 

pizza dough

bread dough

lasagna (but I really hate making it so don't do it too often)

Burgers I forgot burgers, though my son also makes an excellent burger and quite often he will batch enough for both of us. 

 

I'm thinking I'll get even more inspiration from you guys!

freezer stock.jpg

chicken stock.jpg

Edited by Marlene (log)
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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I make large batches of most of the meals we eat on a regular basis (other than stir fries).  I make a large pressure cooker full of stock, then freeze in portions.  For instance, for pork stock, I  freeze 1/2C portions which are used for one Nyonya curry I make (the curry paste is also made in bulk, then portioned into 100g portions and froze) and some is made into Bak Kut Teh (a soup) then frozen in 3-1/2C portions which is perfect for my wife and me.  I used to freeze the stock in zip lock bags, but here and there some will leak while being defrosted, so I've switched up to 1C and 1Quart plastic containers like you'd get from takeout places.  I do the same thing with chicken stock, but that is frozen into 1C portions and 3-1/2C portions to be used in various recipes and soups respectively.

 

I like to make large batches of pretty much anything that is time consuming and will respond well to it.  So I have several different curry bases in the freezer, portioned to make 1 meal.  Come dinner time, I'll heat some stock or coconut milk or whatever the base is, add the frozen rempah (curry paste) and seasonings and go on from there.

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We make burgers in batches also. I didn't really think about those, although we've just finished making and freezing a batch.

 

One of my problems is knowing how large a container to use for saving things like broth. I'm not very good at making soups, for whatever reason, so if I save a quart of broth in one go I'll probably have some left over from the pilaf I make. Smaller containers work, if I have room. Then there's the problem of labels that stay on. My husband probably has forgotten, but I still remember the time I made pilaf with beautiful, golden, homemade chicken broth, only to discover at dinner time that it was actually Meyer lemon juice!

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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8 hours ago, Smithy said:

In our household we make large batches of chili and split pea soup, then freeze them for later use. We'll be hitting the road soon with the contents of those two batch cooks occupying part of the freezer, like the top part of this photo:

 

20161103_080219-600x1067.thumb.jpg.48bc6fe88c3bb27ab01cb47df1c2d8bf.jpg

 

I look forward to more ideas, and demonstrations of how to do it nicely -- that is, with good results at the end. The convenience of being able to decide in the morning what to have at night, and then simply pull it out of the freezer, is very attractive.

Well instead of storing  chilli and the like in hard plastic containers, vacuum pack them (after they are frozen) and return to the freezer.

Then to thaw/heat them submerge the package in water and bring to the boil to heat. Serve from the vacuum pack. No mess no fuss.

We were into camping traveling for a while and used to do this with chilli, stews, pasta sauce, mashed potatoes and frozen peas & beans (you need to add a little butter and/or mint to the peas as you repackage into meal size portions).

The beauty is that you can have a full meal using just one large saucepan and water. The hot water can be used to wash your plates. You can cook dried pasta in the water with the vacuum packages if needed.

The food does have to be fully cooked though since it is only being reheated.

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3 minutes ago, Smithy said:

We make burgers in batches also. I didn't really think about those, although we've just finished making and freezing a batch.

 

One of my problems is knowing how large a container to use for saving things like broth. I'm not very good at making soups, for whatever reason, so if I save a quart of broth in one go I'll probably have some left over from the pilaf I make. Smaller containers work, if I have room. Then there's the problem of labels that stay on. My husband probably has forgotten, but I still remember the time I made pilaf with beautiful, golden, homemade chicken broth, only to discover at dinner time that it was actually Meyer lemon juice!

Kitchen scales are your friend when "pre packaing portions" as apposed to just storing in bulk. 🙂

Also instead of round containers, use rectangle or square. They make better use of the freezer space

Permanent marker is your friend. You can get them in many colors

Store burgers in stacks with 2 pieces of parchment between so they are easy to separate while still frozen

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24 minutes ago, Bernie said:

Well instead of storing  chilli and the like in hard plastic containers, vacuum pack them (after they are frozen) and return to the freezer.

Then to thaw/heat them submerge the package in water and bring to the boil to heat. Serve from the vacuum pack. No mess no fuss.

We were into camping traveling for a while and used to do this with chilli, stews, pasta sauce, mashed potatoes and frozen peas & beans (you need to add a little butter and/or mint to the peas as you repackage into meal size portions).

The beauty is that you can have a full meal using just one large saucepan and water. The hot water can be used to wash your plates. You can cook dried pasta in the water with the vacuum packages if needed.

The food does have to be fully cooked though since it is only being reheated.

 

Ziplocks are great for freezing liquids and vacuum sealed when frozen. Its how I do my sttocks,  and even better if you are space challenged in your freezer space.   I totally love this for camping  and it makes perfect sense!  Bernardin labels have always stuck for me,  but with ziplocks you can usually write on them then vacuum seal and the writing will still show through

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Marlene

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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