You can still have a delicious home-cooked meal on busy weeknights. How? Stock your freezer with these make-ahead meals and reheat when needed one.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep 20 mins / Cook 1³⁄4 hours / Serves 8.
1/3 cup ghee or vegetable oil.
16 (3 kg) chicken drumsticks.
4 onions, roughly chopped.
8-cm piece fresh ginger, grated.
6 garlic cloves, sliced.
2 red capsicums, seeded, chopped.
½ cup tikka masala paste.
1 tbsp tomato paste.
2 x 400 g cans diced tomatoes.
¼ cup water.
250 g natural yoghurt.
2 tbsps mango chutney Toasted silvered almonds, coriander leaves, basmati rice, to serve.
1. In a large, heavy-based flameproof casserole, heat half ghee on high. Cook chicken in two batches 4 to 5 mins each, turning, until golden brown. Remove from pan.
2. In the same pan, heat remaining ghee on low. Saute onions 15 to 20 mins until very soft and lightly golden.
3. Increase heat to medium. Stir in ginger and garlic, cook 2 mins. Add capsicum and pastes. Saute a further 5 mins.
4. Return chicken to pan with tomatoes and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, covered, 40 to 45 mins, stirring occasionally until chicken is very tender. Remove lid and simmer a further 10 to 15 mins until sauce thickens slightly. Transfer half curry to a bowl. Cool in fridge, freeze.
5. Stir in yoghurt and chutney through remaining curry. Simmer 2 to 3 mins to heat through. Serve sprinkled with almonds and coriander. Accompany with basmati rice.
Prep 25 mins / Cook 1 hour 30 mins + Cooling / Serves 8.
¼ cup olive oil.
1 kg beef mince.
2 onions, chopped.
3 carrots, chopped.
3 celery stalks, chopped.
¼ cup plain flour.
2 tbsps tomato paste.
4 garlic cloves, crushed.
1 cup red wine.
2 cups beef stock.
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce.
4 thyme sprigs.
2 bay leaves.
8 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed.
3 cups mashed potato.
½ cup cheddar, grated Vegetables of choice, to serve.
1. In a large frying pan, heat half oil on high. Brown mince in two batches for 4 to 5 mins each, breaking up lumps. Remove from pan.
2. In the same pan, heat remaining oil on low. Cook onion, carrot and celery 15 to 20 mins, stirring often, until tender and golden. Mix in flour, tomato paste and garlic and cook 2 mins.
3. Increase heat to high. Return beef to pan. Pour in wine and cook, stirring to deglaze. Stir in stock, sauce and herbs. Simmer 30 mins. Discard thyme stalks and bay leaves. Cool.
4. Preheat oven to hot, 200 C. Lightly grease 16 x ¾ cup muffin pan recesses. Press in pastry, trim to fit. Bake blind 10 to 12 mins. Remove paper and filling.
5. Spoon mince into cases. Top each with mash. Sprinkle cheese over.
6. Bake 20 to 25 mins. Serve half with vegetables. Freeze remaining.
time to mins for
Pork & Chive Steamed Dumplings
Prep 25 mins / Cook 5 mins / Serves 8
1 tbsp peanut oil.
50 g shiitake mushrooms, chopped.
2 garlic cloves, crushed.
4-cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, grated.
2 cups Chinese cabbage or wombok, shredded.
2 tbsps chopped garlic chives 500 g pork mince.
1/3 cup hoisin sauce.
¼ cup soy sauce.
1 egg, beaten.
3 tsps rice-wine vinegar.
40 g gow gee wrappers.
Dipping sauce, steamed greens and toasted sesame seeds, to serve.
1. In a large frying pan, heat half oil on high. Saute mushrooms, garlic and ginger, 2 to 3 mins, until tender. Mix in cabbage and chives, stirring 1 min. Transfer to bowl.
2. Add mince, sauces, egg and vinegar to cabbage mixture. Mix well.
3. Working with 5 wrappers at a time, place on a clean, dry work surface. Spoon 1 heaped tsp of mixture on each wrapper. Brush edges with a little water and fold over to enclose filling, pleating edges to seal. Freeze half uncooked dumplings.
4. Line a steamer basket with baking paper, piercing a few holes to allow steam to escape. Steam dumplings in four batches over a wok of rapidly simmering water, 8 to 10 mins each, until tender and cooked through.
5. Sprinkle with seeds. Serve with dipping sauce and greens.
Italian Sausage & Capsicum Soup
Prep 10 mins / Cook 35 mins / Serves 8
1 kg Italian pork sausages.
1 tbsp olive oil.
1 red onion, diced.
3 capsicums, red, yellow and green, seeded, chopped.
1 baby fennel bulb, halved, sliced 4 garlic cloves, crushed.
1/3 cup tomato paste Pinch of cayenne pepper.
2 litres chicken stock.
2 x 400 g cans diced tomatoes 1 cup risoni.
½ cup basil leaves, plus extra to serve Grated parmesan, to serve.
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil on high. Cook sausages 4 to 5 mins, turning, until browned. Remove from pan, slice into rounds.
2. In the same pan, saute onion 3 to 4 mins until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Add capsicum, fennel and garlic, and cook 8 to 10 mins until softened and golden.
3. Stir in tomato paste and cayenne. Cook 1 min. Add stock, tomatoes and risoni. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 mins.
4. Return sausages to pan with basil. Simmer 4 to 5 mins. Cool and freeze half soup. Serve remaining soup topped with parmesan and extra basil leaves.
PHOTOS ROB SHAW / BAUERSYNDICATION.COM.AU.