Next Season - Fall - Time for Home Cooking
Summer is a memory and we are well into fall now. While some people are sad about this, I (Wine) love this time of year. The outdoor chores wane and that means a more relaxed evening, which I like since I cook dinner every night.
My preferred cooking is on the stove or oven which is good for fall through spring. I like to braise instead of crockpot; it is so simple and the oven can warm the kitchen as it cooks. Braises can be roasts, short ribs, or stews. They cook slowly and without effort making your evening meal prep easier, but it does require preparation in the morning.
The braise is similar for each dish: brown meat in Dutch oven (enameled cast iron is my choice), remove meat, add onions and garlic, deglaze pan with wine or broth, add meat back. Now the way to change up the recipe is with the broth type (beef, chicken, or vegetable), the type of veggies added, adding or not adding canned diced tomatoes, and obviously the spices.
Then the way you serve it changes it up. Fresh spinach added just before serving adds a nice color to an otherwise dull looking dish. A dollop of sour cream will soften a recipe. Serve braises over pasta, mashed potatoes, rice, or nothing at all. The varieties are endless.
Cast iron skillet cooking is the way I cook chops, steak, and wings. This type of cooking is quick and delicious. It is also a great way to make and serve dinner for friends as well. I have friends in the kitchen as I cook these; it is my form of grilling. I also use the skillet in the oven for wings and nachos.
Roasting is a go-to when I have more time to be in the kitchen. Roasts typically take about ninety minutes (unless it's a turkey) which is enough time to prepare sides while a roast is in the oven. I'll serve roasts for friends because much can be done ahead leaving just the slicing and plating to be done at the time of serving.
Often I will make a sauce or gravy with roasts. My go to for pork roast is wine, mustard, and cream sauce. I deglaze the roasting pan with wine, add Dijon mustard, and stir. If it a bit thick, I will add a little broth. Fresh cream is stirred in until warm.
Other dishes for dinner are either baked or sautéed. While I, Wine, loves pasta; Whiskey is not a huge pasta fan. He tolerates it. Hence all of the meat, meat, meat in the other dishes. Shown below is mac and cheese, pizzas, sautéed chicken, quiche, and more.
Looking at all of the cooking I do, I'm a bit exhausted. However, I enjoy it. Cooking is a creative endeavor. Especially when I have to create a dish using what I have on hand. Working from home makes it easier to cook decent dinners. No commuting, and catching time between chores and work assignments provide the ability to tackle food prep.
No fancy cooking equipment is needed. An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is a must. The one I use for braises is the 4.5 quart Le Creuset. It is the perfect size for four servings. My two most used cast iron skillet sizes are 10" and 12". I am fortunate to have vintage skillets that I found from antique shops. They are great because they are very smooth. New pre-seasoned skillets are great too. Lodge offers a wide variety and they are made in the USA.
Most importantly, cooking can be enjoyable and not a chore. If you like to learn you can expand your cooking skills. Here are links to get you going.
If you want to learn how to braise go here.
Steak in a cast iron skillet go here.
Cast iron cooking go here.
Best Mac & Cheese for adults go here.
Thanks for reading. Happy cooking!