Everyday Food (October 2008)
We both grew up in families with huge deep freezes at home, filled with enough food to last a family of four for several years. At one point, Zach's family had not only one but two huge freezers, in addition to two other stand-up refrigerator/freezer units.
It's safe to assume that if were living somewhere with more space, we'd have a deep freeze, too. The thought of what would be in it scares us a bit. With Thanksgiving approaching, we cleaned out our freezer this weekend. These are the current contents of our (relatively small) freezer:
- 3 gallon size bags filled with green & red peppers, 1 gallon size bag of squash, 1 gallon size bag of eggplant, 1 gallon size bag of butternut squash -- We couldn't keep up with the amount of vegetables we were getting from our CSA this summer, so we cut them up and froze them for use this winter.
- 4 jars of blueberry freezer jam -- When we went on a blueberry binge this summer, Zach decided to make freezer jam. Yum.
- 1 gallon-size bag of blueberries -- When Zach got tired of making freezer jam, we decided to just freeze several pints of blueberries. We've only used these in blueberry pancakes so far, but we'll use them for more baking this winter.
- 2 quart-size bags of chicken stock & beef stock -- The beef stock was leftover from a can we bought for a recipe, but we actually made the chicken stock.
- 1 chicken carcass -- We got this tip from The Amateur Gourmet. After roasting chicken, you can save the carcasses in the freezer until you're ready to make stock again, so that you can make one big batch.
- 2 gallon-size bags of frozen pesto (in small servings) -- Between an abundance of basil and garlic scapes, we've got enough pesto to last us a lifetime.
- 3 quart-size bags of tomato sauce -- When we were drowning in tomatoes from the farm, we'd make a quick batch of roasted tomato sauce, and freeze it for later use.
- 1 gallon-size bag of tomato skins -- When we canned tomatoes this summer, we saved the skins, thinking we would use them to flavor soups or stocks. It was a huge bag and we decided to toss it yesterday. Space is too precious.
- 1 unopened box of puff pastry -- It seems like a good thing to keep on hand, but we've had it for almost a year and haven't used it.
- 2 massive bags of store-bought frozen peas -- We love peas (but we're not sure why we have so many on-hand).
- Leftover tomato paste -- This is something Clay saw on a cooking show a long time ago. When you have leftover tomato paste, you can freeze it for later use.
- 1 bag of store-bought frozen shelled edamame -- one of our go-to snacks.
- 1 gallon bag of frozen, breaded okra -- This is leftover from summer 2007, and it makes delicious fried okra.
Why all this freezer talk?
Everyday Food has an excellent recurring column called "Freeze It!" (the exclamation point is ours, not theirs). In October, the subject is Irish Beef and Stout Stew.
Is it worth making and freezing?
We're a little ashamed to admit that it never made it to our freezer (not that there's much room there anyway, obviously). Instead, we made it and liked it so much that we proceeded to eat it for an entire week.
Be forewarned -- this is a heavy stew, filled with chunks of beef and whole, small potatoes. But it's the peas that really make this dish, helping to brighten the richness of the beef, stout and potatoes.
With temperatures dropping, it's just the sort of warm and hearty meal your body is craving. Make a quick batch this week -- and if you can resist eating the whole thing, let us know how it freezes.
Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 3 hours
* 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
* 2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
* 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
* 1 can (14.9 ounces) Irish stout beer
* 10 garlic cloves, sliced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen baby peas, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, toss beef with flour; stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Transfer pot to oven, and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, and season with salt and pepper.
To freeze, divide stew among airtight plastic containers. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator (or place containers under cold running water to release stew) before reheating.