by Sarah ▪ 17 Dec, 2020
The point of batch cooking is to make extra portions now that you can defrost for fuss-free dinners later. But it’s not always as simple as using a calculator to work out multiples: cooking is sometimes more like alchemy, a world of magic and mystery! A good rule of thumb is to build up spices and seasoning gradually – twice the amount of pepper, whether black or cayenne – is likely to be too much, even if everything else is doubled. Taste as you go – it’s a perk of the chef! Over-seasoning is to be avoided, as you can’t easily correct it later on. You can add spices later – but it’s best to ‘bloom’ them first. Do this by heating a little oil and then adding the spices, stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. This avoids the throat-catching sensation raw spices can give to a dish.
If you’re batch baking, you also need to be careful. We recommend making individual batches, but not washing the bowls in between. If that’s too much faff, find a recipe for larger quantities from the off!
One of the joys of batch cooking is being able to make the most of cheaper cuts of meat. Shoulders, thighs and ground meat benefit from the slow cooking that many batch recipes require, rather than drying out as dearer cuts may do (yes, chicken breasts, we’re looking at you!). Not only that, they freeze better too. It’s a win-win for flavour and your wallet.
When it comes to vegetables, our top tip is to very slightly undercook them the first time round (unless you’re eating a portion immediately). This avoids overly mushy textures when you reheat the meals later.
• Add to an oven-proof dish and top with buttery mashed potato for a warming cottage pie. Add cheese for extra indulgence, or swap for sweet potato to get an extra portion of your five a day
• Cook up some spaghetti or tagliatelle and mix in the sauce with a spoonful of crème fraiche for a quick and easy pasta dinner. Top with torn basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Alternatively, use penne or fusilli instead, mix the sauce through thoroughly, with 50ml water and two spoonfuls of crème fraiche, top with grated cheese and put it all in the oven to bake for 20 minutes for a creamy pasta bake.
• Stir through some kidney beans and add a some chilli powder (remembering to ‘bloom’ it first) for a Mexican night. Serve over tortilla chips with sour cream, cheese and guacamole for a takeaway dinner, or with rice, salad and sliced avocado for a classic chilli.