During my last cooking class, a student asked if I had a way to categorize what was in my freezer; my frozen smile gave me away--the answer: not exactly. I do try to label everything that goes in,and vacuum seal it whenever I can---either in vacuum sealed bags or Fresh Vac containers to keep the items fresh. Freezer burn is your enemy; that's when moisture gets trapped with the food, causing it to burn at the low temperature in the freezer.
Imagine my surprise yesterday to see this article about what was in a French Chef's girlfriends' freezer. I could go on about that, and this story but my point today is that your freezer should hold a wealth of food that is available for you to put together a meal on a moments' notice. So, without further ado, here are a few things I think should be in your freezer at all times along with ideas for using each one.
quick sautes, stir fries, or chicken burgers
great for using as a bed for sauteed chicken, or shrimp, or used as a stuffing
quick veg or soup; pair with chicken or shrimp
frozen peeled and deveined shrimp
pasta dishes, sauteed with garlic and served over mashed potatoes, or stirred into soups
Bombay Sapphire gin
Simple cobblers, layered with cake and cream for trifle, parfaits with ice cream
If you don't have it in your freezer, trust me you will need it--great for sandwiches, or to serve alongside a savory dish with a nice sauce to dip into.
Chicken and beef stock
If you make your own, these can be used for soups, and sauces
Italian pine nuts
garnish pastas,make pesto when basil is plentiful
Home made marinara sauce
quick pasta dinners; throw in what's in the fridge--chicken, sausage, leftover roast beef, sauteed mushrooms, a can of Italian tuna, or use it to sauce boring sauteed chicken breasts
Here's a simple marinara sauce to keep in your fridge or freezer
Makes about 6 cups
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion, such as Vidalia
Three 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (or more) sugar
In a 4 to 5-quart saucepan, heat the oil and saute the garlic and onion for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, crushing them in your hand as they go into the pot. Stir in the salt, pepper, and sugar, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning adding additional salt, or sugar if needed.
This sauce is a great jumping off point to make any of your favorite tomato based pasta sauces. Add cream and vodka and hot pepper for Penne a la Vodka. Saute guanciale and hot peppers with the onion and make buccatini l'amatrice.