Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 3 — Main Dishes

Many of these recipes are mashups, incorporating the spices and flavors I know we like or using ingredients we have on hand.

Betty’s Lancashire Hotpot (Variation)
1-1/2 lbs lean lamb cubes (I use stew meat and cut off excess fat.)
Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2 sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry (I have brandy, which we don’t drink, so I use that)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 bay leaves
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
15 oz (1-3/4 cup) beef stock
Coat lamb cubes with seasoned flour. Sauté onion and garlic until soft and golden. Remove from pan. Deglaze with some extra sherry/brandy. Brown meat in same pan. Layer meat, vegetables, potatoes, and spices in crock pot. Pour stock and sherry/brandy over all. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. 
A comforting winter meal. 

Burrito Pie 
This recipe, from AllRecipes.com, is like a wonderful Tex-Mex lasagna, simple to make and delicious. I halve the recipe and use ground turkey rather than beef.

Chicken Chapli Kebabs
1 lb minced (ground) chicken or turkey
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 ripe, but firm tomato, seeded and chopped
2 green onions (Sometimes I don’t have green onions, so I just use more regular onions.)
Chopped sweet peppers in a variety of colors for added color
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 green chilis, finely chopped (use more or less according to preferred heat level)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tsp black pepper, fine
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp red chili pepper (This means Indian Chili Powder, which is very similar to cayenne pepper. I usually just use cayenne for both these ingredients, i.e, 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground cayenne.)
1/2 tsp Garam Masala spice (A true Indian cook would grind their own version, but I buy it, especially since it’s more widely available than it used to be.)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Dried bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Mix all vegetables, spices and minced chicken, then add egg and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Add enough bread crumbs that the mixture doesn’t fall apart. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan (preferably non-stick or cast iron). Place kebab mix directly into the pan with a spoon in the form of a patty. Cook in batches for 2-3 min on each side until done, taking care not to overcrowd. Remove kebabs from pan and lay on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. 
I took some Indian cookery courses with an amazing cook named Farzana. Everything we made was delicious, but this is the recipe I continue to cook on a regular basis. I’ve added bread crumbs to the recipe because the original recipe tended to fall apart in the pan (although it was still scrumptious). I enlist The Engineer as my sous-chef in the summer, when tomatoes and peppers are in season to make a triple batch. We then freeze what we don’t eat in batches for future meals. I can’t remember what you serve with them because we just scarf them down until we’re too full to eat anything else!

Chorizo Butternut Squash Hash 
So, one summer day, I had some butternut squash and chorizo on hand, and thought, “Hey! There must be some recipe that uses these two items.” There was. It’s delectable. The sweetness of the butternut combined with the spicy chorizo makes for one simple, warming meal. Click through to find it. Note: This recipe uses the chorizo commonly found in the U.S. — a soft, ground sausage, sometimes stuffed into links (and if you buy it in casing, take it out of the casing to use in this recipe). This type of chorizo is different from the hard chorizo sausage we’ve had in Europe, more similar to salami or pepperoni. If you can’t get the soft chorizo, perhaps you can substitute another type of spicy sausage. 

Colombian Black Beans and Rice 
1 can frijoles negros (black beans)
1 large onion or 3-4 green onions, chopped
1 med red pepper (green, if no red), chopped
4-5 tbsp oil (preferred Mazola)
1 tsp garlic or 3 cloves, minced 
1-1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 package Goya seasoning with saffron (Sazon Goy con Azafran)
1 pack of fried bacon (optional)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup water
Sauté’ chopped onions, pepper in oil until cooked. Pour in garlic, cumin, pepper, and Goya package. Stir. Pour in tomato sauce. Stir. Salt to taste. Pour in can of beans and bacon (if using). Stir all together, then pour in uncooked rice and water. Stir and bring to boil. Simmer about 15-20 minutes until water is gone. Open. Stir from bottom to top and continue cooking until rice is soft (approx 20-30 min).
I was a children’s librarian when I got this recipe from the mother of one of my storytime kids. A Colombian native, she kindly shared her method of making beans and rice. It’s been a while since I’ve made it, and I notice the recipe doesn’t mention draining the beans. I think I would do so, though I’m not sure you’re supposed to. If you leave out the bacon, as I always do, it’s a good vegetarian meal.  

Crockpot Lamb Curry
1 lg diced onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 lbs lamb stew meat
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups chicken broth
4 oz baby spinach, chopped (fresh or thawed frozen works)
Cook onion over medium heat, stirring often until translucent. Add a little broth if needed. Add garlic and ginger and sauté another minute. Transfer onion to crock pot and stir in lamb. Add all everything else except spinach. Cover and cook for four hours on high or eight on low. Stir in spinach to wilt it and serve. 
My notes say I added frozen butternut squash to the mix, and I think I left out the spinach. Once it was cooked, I took out the lamb, pureed the what was left into a sauce with my immersion blender, and replaced the lamb. My notes also say, “Yum!so I will likely repeat the same process when I next make it.

Easy Camp (or Home) Meal
1 package sausage, any kind (smoked, kielbasa, chorizo, italian, bratwurst, whatever!)
1 sliced onion
3-4 potatoes chopped
Several chopped carrots
Nonstick spray or oil, and butter
Heavy duty foil or Dutch Oven or oven-safe pan.
Camp method #1: Grease large sheet of foil with spray, oil or butter. Place all ingredients on foil, add a few dollops of butter and wrap tightly. Cover with another sheet of foil and wrap tightly. Put in coals of campfire and cook until it smells good.
Camp method #2: Grease a Dutch Oven with oil or spray. Place all ingredients inside. Dollop with butter, and cook according to Dutch Oven directions (coals on top and underneath). When it starts to smell good, check to see if it’s done.
Home method #1: Use camp method #1, but use oven at 375 F, start checking at 30 min. 
Home method #2: Use camp method #2 with any oven-safe pan with a lid and the oven at 375 F as above. 
We make this every time we go camping and often at home too. Easiest meal ever!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The next installment will be more main dishes. Please feel free to share your recipes (especially if they’re easy) in the comment section.

Thanks to Kate for sharing her pumpkin soup recipe. It sounds delicious and is probably more like the first time I actually ate it, since she lives in Australia, and that’s where I had it.

3 thoughts on “Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter: Part 3 — Main Dishes

  1. I have another one for you, one of my Dutch mother’s favourite winter recipes: Rotkohl met gerookte worst (Red cabbage with smoked sausage).
    A large loop Kielbasa country sausage will do instead of traditional Dutch smoked sausage, cut into thick slices; half a red cabbage, shredded and with the hard stems and ribs removed; one large red apple, chopped into half inch chunks; one large red bell pepper, halved, deseeded and cut into half inch slices; one medium red onion, thinly sliced, or 2 cloves of garlic if you prefer; quite a lot of butter!; a small red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced; half a tsp each of cumin, caraway seeds (or fennel if you don’t like caraway) and cinnamon; 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth.
    Heat the butter in a wide pan with a lid. Sauté the onion till translucent; if using garlic instead, add it later. Throw in the sausage and sauté till it has golden edges. Add the bell pepper and chilli, and the spices and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the apple, cabbage and deglaze with the broth. Stir to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom, turn down the heat and cover. Simmer until the cabbage is tender. At this point Ma used to add a dollop of cream, but then, she was Dutch and loved her dairy products. If there is still a lot of free liquid, I thicken the sauce with 2 tablespoons of milk mixed to a slurry with a tsp cornstarch and stirred through for a minute or two.
    This is good with mashed potato or potato pancakes and apple sauce.

    Liked by 1 person

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