I’m working in the Bon Appetit test kitchen again this week. As such, I need to make some dinners ahead of time so the kids will have healthy food to eat before I come home at night. Kind of funny to think I’m actually cooking all day long yet still struggling with the same issue most families have with what to feed the family!
In general, stews and braises are the best make-ahead dishes since the flavors develop over time and the meat stays tender when stored in a sauce. I picked up my CSA share yesterday and received a gorgeous, bright green bunch of collards. They are delicious and pair so well with any type of pork. Collards can stand up to long cooking times so are great in a stew. They are also fantastic when simply sautéed with some thick cut chopped bacon or pancetta.
I actually used some bacon fat with canola oil to sauté the ribs and veggies for this stew. I keep some handy in the fridge at all times. Don’t judge! My kids are pretty lean and their doctor has advised me to use lots of butter and fats in their food. Besides, didn’t we all read this article in the Times recently? The flavor from the bacon fat pairs so nicely with this stew. Trust me!
In addition to collard greens, we received some spring onions from our CSA, which I used in here as well. You can easily substitute in any other type of onion. We ended up eating the stew for Sunday supper and had plenty leftover for dinner another night. These types of dishes last a good 3-5 days so they are perfect make-ahead meals for busy families!
While we are on the topic, some other great make-ahead meals are listed below:
What recipes have you used as weekday saviors or make-ahead meals for your family?
- 3 lbs boneless country-style ribs, trimmed
- canola oil and bacon fat, for frying (you can use any oil compatible with high heat)
- salt and pepper
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 spring onions sliced (or substitute ½ small onion, chopped)
- 1 large bunch collard greens, bottom stem trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise and then cut into 2" pieces
- 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 packet goya sazon con culantro y achiote (you can find this in the international aisle or spice section of your supermarket)
- ¼ cup bbq sauce (I used Bone Suckin' sauce)
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- 3 cups water, or enough to just cover the ribs)
- additional salt and pepper to taste
- Season ribs with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large dutch oven or sauce pot over medium-high heat and add oil and/or bacon fat to cover the bottom. Once hot, add country ribs, in batches, to brown on all sides. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan during this process.
- Once the ribs are browned, add the pepper, carrots, garlic and onion and toss frequently until starting to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Toss in collards and use the natural liquid that forms to help scrape up the flavor from the bottom of the pan.
- Cook for about one minute before adding the ribs back into the pan with the remaining ingredients. Toss and add water to just cover the ribs.
- Bring to a boil and reduce to simmering. Allow to simmer for 2½ to 3 hours until ribs are very tender and just about to fall apart.
- Taste and season well with salt and pepper. There is no pre-seasoned chicken stock in this stew, just water, so you should be generous with the seasonings at the end.
- Serve immediately or cook and store for 3-5 days until ready to eat.