My days are getting longer at work, and then with afternoon errands, it’s been so stressful worrying about finding time for healthy weekday cooking. So, I took a tip from Rachael Ray’s new show, Week in a Day and decided that I would try cooking a bunch recipes on the weekend, making it easier to put together meals during busier days during the week. Plus, I need to fill our new chest freezer with some goodies!
So, today I set the oven on 300° and started cooking:
St Louis Style Pork Ribs
I rubbed some Arizona Dreaming seasoning from Penzey’s Spices on a rack of St Louis style pork ribs and slow cooked them on a roasting pan with rack. Thankfully, I applied a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom of the pan so clean up was a breeze!
They cooked for about 4 hours (300°), and then I raised the oven temp to about 375° to crisp them for a few minutes. Delicious and so easy.
Chuck Beef Roast
Next, I sliced all the outer fat off of a small one pound chuck beef roast (looked like a steak) and cut it into two pieces. In one of my smaller 2 quart cast iron covered pots, I browned each piece separately, then deglazed the bottom of the pan with a little bit of Merlot wine. I added both pieces of beef back into the pot, and covered with large chunks of onion, then poured some additional wine over the top. I let it slow cook (300°) for about 4 hours. I didn’t peek inside the pot, I just kept it covered and left it alone.
We ended up having it for our dinner tonight, and it was scrumptious. Tender and flavorful. Chuck rocks I tell you!!! It’s one of the best cuts of beef, it’s cheap and the flavor is outstanding! And so simple! I didn’t even have to add one smidgen of salt, pepper, spice or herb to the pot, and it develops into lusciousness. Just take the time to brown the meat first, deglaze, then add wine!
On the stove, I browned 8 chicken drumsticks (two batches of 4 drums each) with some olive oil in my 4 quart cast iron pot. The chicken was reserved on a plate, while I started sauteing chopped onion, carrot, and some leftover purple cabbage. I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the new bottle of three acre kitchen Balsamic Marinade I just bought from Whole Foods, so I poured a couple of tablespoons in, and deglazed the pan; it bubbled and reduced very quickly. Then I deglazed again with some Merlot wine, then added the chicken back into the pot, and poured more wine.
I placed the covered pot into the oven (300°) and cooked for hmm, I think it was about 2 hours or so. The chicken was falling off the bone, and I tasted a couple of tiny bits, and it was delicious. I completely cooled the chicken, vegetables, and sauce in a separate bowl, and then transferred into a large freezer bag to freeze for a later date.
Ground Beef and Leek Chili
On the stovetop, I browned a 1/3 pound of grass fed beef in my other 2 quart cast iron pot (I love my 2 quart pots, and I highly recommend this size for smaller 2-3 person families), then added in a couple of chopped leeks. Cooked down for a few minutes, then added poblano peppers (frozen from summer veggies), cranberry beans (also frozen from summer), fresh parsley, a carton of Pomi strained tomatoes and lots of spices and herbs.
That was also put into the oven along side the 4 qt pot with drumsticks, 2 quart pot with beef. The roaster with the ribs was on the bottom oven rack. It all just fit! Phew!
It cooked for about 1.5 hours or so, and then I cooled the chili completely; I transferred most of it into a quart sized freezer bag to freeze for a later date. I kept a portion in the fridge, enough for tomorrow’s lunch for either my husband or myself.
Transitional Whole Wheat Bread
I started my soaker and biga for a loaf of bread yesterday, following the transitional wheat bread recipe from Peter Reinhart. I removed the biga from the fridge this morning, and once all the pots were in the oven, it was perfect timing to start creating the final dough.
By the time the chili and chicken drumsticks were done baking, my dough had risen, was proofed and was ready to be baked, so I temporarily increased the oven temp to 350° and the loaf went into the oven.
40 minutes later, it was baked and I lowered the temp back down to 300° for the beef and pork ribs to finish.
I was thrilled to find some local organic red and green leaf lettuce at Whole Foods at a bargain price of only 1.29/lb. I picked up 3 heads! The total cost was about $2.50, which equaled to one small head of green leaf from California.
I washed, spun dried, and bagged all of it, so now I have enough lettuce for a few dinner and lunch salads for the week.
Once everything was done cooking, I poured a cup of jasmine brown rice with 2 cups of water into one of the 2 qt cast iron pots, and in an hour or so, we were ready to eat tonight’s meal.
I think it’ll get even easier next time. I will be able to coordinate a little better, multi-tasking a bit more. But I feel so accomplished knowing that a big portion of the cooking for this week is done!
There is a portion of beef left over along with 2 servings of brown rice, so I have a plan to either make tomato beef sauce (with rice or pasta) or possibly some beef stew with rice, leeks and kale. I think I’ll probably go for the soup.
As for the rest of the week, we have pork ribs, chicken (enough for at least two meals), and chili. I have some beets in the fridge, and they will roast nicely with potatoes and/or a butternut squash. I think we’ll be good to go!