adventures in mass cooking

I cook the occasional dinner or lunch around here – sometimes, for values of “cook” that involve the telephone and delivery people – but it’s unusual for me to spend an entire day cooking. This Sunday, however, that’s pretty much exactly what I did.

Motivated by a desire to take my lunch to work much more frequently, but realizing that the morning chaos isn’t going to get better anytime soon, and inspired by a couple three recent threads on ask.metafilter, I decided to whip up a batch of freezer burritos. I based things off this breakfast burrito recipe, but ended up making some substantial changes.

Obviously, I was looking for lunch burritos, not breakfast, so the eggs were right out. (Also, not a big fan of the egg in general…) Also, I knew that if I made 20 of the exact same thing, I was going to get bored before they were all gone – so I decided to mix it up a bit, and make some chicken, some steak, and some plain bean burritos, then freeze them all together (unlabeled). Now lunch is going to be an adventure every day!

First up, I got a medium-sized chicken (about 3.5 pounds) and roasted it, using this recipe (there is a recipe down there, under the rant). For the cavity, I used a quarter of a large white onion and about 6 smallish garlic cloves. Aside from peeling the outer layers off both, I didn’t do any additional prep there. Cooked for a little over an hour, and it turned out great – I think I’ll probably use this recipe again as the actual meal. This time, however, I pulled all the meat off the carcass, doing some random quality control inspection along the way. (TASTY!)

While the chicken was cooking, I started a skirt steak marinating. I was working off this recipe, but I rapidly went pretty far afield. I crushed 4 good sized garlic cloves, and then mixed in 3 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a thin paste. Slathered that on both sides of the steak, and tossed it in the fridge for several hours. Took it out, brushed both sides with olive oil, grilled it for about 3-4 minutes on each side on a very hot skillet, and that was that.

I also whipped up a batch of white rice using a knock-off Chipotle rice recipe that TheWife found. This is really only meh; if and when I do this again, I need to find a better rice recipe (or improve my technique with this one, or something)…

The other component was a bunch of plain canned black beans, rinsed well and drained. Again, if and when I repeat this, I think I’ll take the trouble to start with dry beans and cook them up; it’ll give a bit more control over the spicing and flavor.

Anyway, once all the meat was prepped, actually making the burritos was pretty easy: slap down a spoon or two of beans, a spoon or two of rice, add the meat (or some salsa for the bean variety), add a handful of a shredded cheddar/jack mix, and wrap it up. Once I had a batch rolled, I wrapped each one in plastic wrap, tossed them all in a freezer bag, and slung that into the deep freeze.

I’ll try to report back in a week or two on how this is working out. I’ve also got my eye on a calzone recipe for the next round of mass cooking – maybe some time next month…