When the festive season arrives, you want to be nursing a glass of champagne not nursing a dish in the oven. Creating main dishes that you can stash in your freezer and bring out when you are busy pouring drinks, entertaining and generally being the hostess with the mostest is a great way to take the strain out of festive entertaining and create fuss free suppers.
Coq au Vin Recipe
Coq au vin is a timeless dish that has a good depth of flavour and offers very well suited to freezing.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 medium onions, thickly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g button mushrooms
- 200g smoked lardons or pancetta
- 12 skinless chicken thigh fillets (each cut into 3)
- 400ml red wine
- 300ml good quality chicken stock
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 2 tbsp sundried tomato puree
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 springs of thyme
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 2 tbsp corn flour
Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Fry the lardons, onion, garlic and mushrooms together, for a few minutes, being careful to avoid the onions and garlic browning too much.
Add the chicken, briefly stir over the heat and then pour in the wine, stock, brandy, tomato puree. Add the herbs
Bring the mixture to the boil, then cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender but still holding its shape
Combine the butter and flour to make a smooth paste. Add to the pan and stir until it disappears.
Leave the coq au vin to cool
Pack the coq au vin into good quality freezer bags.
At this stage you may not know who will be eating these portions, so I would suggest that you freeze in batches of two portions, so you can then serve, two, four or six people, depending on the occasion.
Use within two months.
Thaw completely, then reheat in a pan until bubbling, serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables or a hunk of crusty bread for informal suppers.
Salmon & Crab Lasagne Recipe
Makes two dishes (each serving 4)
Sumptuous salmon and sweet, nutty crab makes for a brilliant take of the traditional lasagne. It is a great supper dish for friends because it is so easily reheated once guests arrive
- 600ml whole milk
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 85g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50g plain flour
- 227 ml double cream
- 100g mature cheddar
- 1 large egg beaten
- 300g of crab meat (brown and white)
- 750g leeks, finely sliced
- 400g salmon fillets cubed
- 12 sheets of fresh lasagne pasta
- Freshly ground pepper and salt to season
Over a low heat, add 50g of the butter and flour into a non-stick pan, stir until well combined and bubbling, add the milk gradually and whisk continuously, until thickened and smooth.
Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and season to taste
Measure 450ml of the sauce and beat in half the cheese and egg into it. Once cool stir in the crabmeat to the remaining (original) sauce.
Melt the remaining butter in a very large pan, add the leeks and cook for 8-10 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently.
Lightly grease 2 x 20cm square ovenproof dishes
Trim the fresh pasta sheets to fit, if necessary
Spoon a quarter of the leeks into each dish and spread out, evenly. Top each with a layer of pasta, then cover with crab mixture and top with salmon. Top each with another layer of pasta then more leeks and the final sheets of pasta and top with cheese sauce and the remaining grated cheese.
Wrap the dishes in several layers of cling film, then foil. Use within two months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Heat oven to 180c/ 160 fan/ gas mark 4. Unwrap the lasagnes and make in the preheated oven for 40 minutes serve with salad and garlic bread.
If you want to cook from fresh, then it takes 40 minutes the same.