I don’t care what that stupid groundhog saw; the days are getting longer. If you squint and gaze into the proverbial distance you can sort of make out Spring, even though it’s still kind of blurry. You can see it a bit more clearly if you stand on top of a groundhog. But before we get there, we have to deal with the rest of winter, which ain’t quite over yet. And what a winter it’s been.
During these last chilly weeks, the loveliest gift of all is to walk into your home on any given night and know that there is a dinner ready to be heated and eaten. And not just any dinner. Something comforting. Something substantial. A dish that acknowledges the callous weather we’ve been having—the slush, the slippery roads, the ice-crusted windshields, the delayed mass transit, the snow days.
Braises, stews, chilies, and casseroles are what we all want, made ahead, ready to be popped into the oven and reheated. And the best news is that not only CAN these dishes be made ahead, they are BETTER when they are.
Who's smarter than you? No one.
Here are six of them.
1) Monday Night Brisket: Leftovers also turn into the most comforting beef barley soup ever.
2) Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Gratin: Whoever still thinks vegetarian food can't be deeply satisying should try this casserole.
3) Turkey or Chicken Chili: A friend of mine recently told me she served this on top of baked Macaroni and Cheese. I don't think you could get more comfort-foodish than that. I hope they had a salad, too.
4) Meyer Lemon Carnitas: A big piece of pork is braised, then sautéed, becoming one of the most delicious things on the planet.
5) Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Tops: Slow cooked lamb that falls apart into the sauce, seasoned with rosemary, tomatoes, garlic, and red wine.
6) Cider Beef Stew: The beef becomes incredibly tender and deeply flavorful when slow simmered in cider, leeks, onions, and thyme.