Recipes that turn time-consuming food prep into short bursts of effort over several days
January 19, 2010 11:12 AM   Subscribe

A friend just shared her recipe for "Friday Chili," which requires 5-10 minutes per day, starting Monday, to yield a steaming pot of chili for dinner Friday night. I love this idea. Can anyone else share incremental recipes that spread out the effort of preparing a meal over several days? Bonus points if they're vegetarian friendly.

Here's my friend's recipe, as an example:

On Monday after work, put one cup each dry chili and kidney beans in the Crockpot. Cover with water. Leave Crockpot off.

On Tuesday after work, drain the beans. Add 14oz crushed tomato and 14oz diced tomato. Add water to an inch below the top (in smaller pots). Put on high for an hour, then low overnight.

On Wednesday after work, brown an onion with some garlic and hot peppers in a sauce pan. Put them in the Crockpot with 1/2c frozen corn, 4T Chili powder, some cumin, and 1T sugar.

On Thursday after work, decide if you want meat. If yes, brown one lb sausage and one lb burger in a pan, drain and stir in. If no, dump in one bag Morningstar Farms griller bits. Adjust seasoning (too hot? not enough?). Turn it to high for three hours, then low overnight.

On Friday morning after work, add a little water if it's low. Stir. Leave on low all day.

Friday after work: EAT!
posted by croutonsupafreak to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
I had a roommate who used to bake Amish Friendship Bread which takes tens days from start to finish.
posted by The Straightener at 11:24 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

that method reminds me of making croissants:

make the dough day one, and on subsequent days fold it repeatedly with more butter to "grow" the layers

You can also "brew" some sourdough starter and bake sourdough day by day
posted by kenbennedy at 11:33 AM on January 19, 2010

I remember that, in the book "a year in Provence", someone cooks fox in red wine for several days. Not vegetarian friendly though, and maybe not good...
posted by Namlit at 11:49 AM on January 19, 2010

This is totally not vegetarian friendly, but I do something like this with chicken once a month or so. This is for a family of four (two adults, two kids).

Buy a couple of roasting chickens, roast 'em for dinner Saturday night. Bake 6 or 8 potatoes with them. Have chicken and taters Sat night.

Sunday: take the rest of the easy-to-obtain meat off the birds and do something yummy with it (enchiladas, chicken pie). Meanwhile simmer the carcasses in water all day to make stock; shuck the rest of the meat off the bones Sunday night, keep in fridge.

Monday or Tuesday: carmelize some onions, brown some carrots and garlic, toss 'em all and the uneatened baked potates in the broth. Add spinach/kale/white wine/canned tomatoes/mushrooms/whatever else sounds good and make soup.
posted by Sublimity at 11:50 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Making your own bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts is absurdly easy. Less than 10 minutes of work a day, and you get a fresh supply of green veggies after a few days to a week. It's especially nice in places with a cold/dark winter, because they'll grow well regardless of the season.

Hippie groceries (and Whole Foods, and increasing numbers of mainstream groceries) will sell seeds for sprouting. Just follow the directions on the package, but the gist of it is:
  1. Put the seeds in a jar on Day 1, add cool water to cover them, and put a piece of cheesecloth (or a clean dish towel, or whatever) over the mouth of the jar. Set it in a cool dark spot.
  2. Drain out the water again on Day 2.
  3. Every morning starting on on Day 3, rinse the seeds in cool water and drain them again.
  4. When the sprouts look tasty, eat them.

posted by nebulawindphone at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I recently discovered a slow-cooker recipe for caramelized onions, which you can translate into French onion soup very easily:

Dice up a mess of onions. (Let's say a "mess" is enough to fill your slow cooker pot about 3/4 full--I think mine's the three-quart model. Naturally, you can scale this recipe, although it plays extremely fast and loose with the quantities, when it bothers with them at all.) Throw in a stick of butter and put the lid on. Turn it up to high for a couple of hours, or enough to melt the butter and cook it down a bit, then turn it down to low for 10-20 hours. Stir it up every so often throughout the process. You'll be left with about a quarter of the volume you started with of rich, brown caramelized onions.

To turn that into French onion soup, add some stock (or stock concentrate and water or wine) and boil it for a while, adding spices to taste. I used Better than Bouillon beef stock concentrate and some cheap sherry I got at Trader Joe's, cut with some extra water because it was way too strong to start with.

It's not a multi-day thing, but it's really easy.
posted by tellumo at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2010 [12 favorites]

It's sure not vegetarian, but sauerbraten made with the traditional method takes several days to marinate for fullest flavor. Here's my mother's recipe:

The key to this recipe is to allow the roast to marinate for the full 3 days.


1 cup dry red wine
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 Tablespoon juniper berries, coarsely crushed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons Sauerbraten Spice
4 pounds boneless beef roast, preferably bottom round

3 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups onions, diced
2 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/4 cups celery, diced
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup gingersnap cookies, crumbled

Serves / Yields: 6-8 servings

Preparation Instructions:

Combine all marinade ingredients, except the roast itself, in 2-3 quart saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the beef in a deep, non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl or pot just large enough to hold it. Pour marinade over beef. The marinade should be at least halfway up the sides of the roast. If necessary add more wine. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning the meat in the marinade at least twice each day.

Remove meat from marinade and pat completely dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve and reserve the liquid. Discard spices and onions.

In heavy, 5-quart dutch oven, heat the butter until bubbling stops. Add the meat and brown on all sides, turning frequently, so that it browns evenly without burning. Transfer to platter and set aside.

For roasting, add the onions, carrots, and celery to the same pan you cooked the meat in. Cook over moderate heat until soft and light brown (5-8 minutes). Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes longer or until the flour begins to color. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved marinade and 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil over high heat. Return the meat to the pot, cover tightly, and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Alternatively, bake in 350 degree oven for 2 hours.

Transfer the roast to a heated platter and cover with foil to keep warm while sauce is made.

Pour the liquid left in the pot into a large measuring cup and skim fat from surface. You will need at least 2 1/2 cups for the sauce. If additional liquid is needed, add some of the reserved marinade.

Combine the liquid and the gingersnap crumbs in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently for approx. 10 minutes, allowing the cookie crumbs to dissolve completely and thicken the sauce to the desired consistency. Depending upon the amount of liquid, you may need to add additional cookie crumbs.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard with wooden spoon to force as much of the vegetables and crumbs through as possible. Return the sauce to the pan, adjust seasoning and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

Slice the roast, pour some sauce over slices on platter and pass remaining sauce separately.
Traditionally, sauerbraten is served with dumplings, boiled potatoes, spaetzle, and red cabbage.

Don't hesitate to adjust the amount of gingersnap cookies to give the sauce your preferred consistency. The flavorful gingersnap cookies are used as the thickener, not flour, so you don't run the risk of having a pasty sauce.
posted by webhund at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

A traditional thought about most long-and-slow ways to cook cabbage is that the result tastes better on the second day, (including Sauerkraut; especially if it is completely overflowing with smoked sausages, Kassler ribs and Bacon-in-a-piece). This is certainly the case with red cabbage and chestnuts. You assemble these on day one. Then, admittedly, you can't stand not to try a bit. The warm-ups on day 2, however, are heaven.
posted by Namlit at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2010

You can also follow nebulawindphone's sprout recipe with plain old brown lentils from the grocery store!
posted by Westringia F. at 2:11 PM on January 19, 2010

With Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, you make up the dough on one day and stick it in the fridge. Any time over the next week or two you lop off a chunk of the dough and make it into some bread. The flavor develops more the longer it's in the fridge....
posted by wyzewoman at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does no-knead bread qualify?
posted by chairface at 2:37 PM on January 19, 2010

Once you have the chili made, save some of the leftovers. The next night, make some baked potatoes with dinner, planning on leftovers. The next night, grill lots of sweet onion, red bell pepper, yellow summer squash and zucchini and have some on a sandwich, maybe with some hummus.

Combine 1 part chili with 1 part diced baked potato and one part grilled veggies. Make burritos. At any time you could have frozen and thawed the chili or veggies (the veggies will get mushy but it won't matter.) You can also freeze the burritos. I like to brush the burritos with a little oil and bake them at 375 for 12-15 minutes or so to toast the tortillas.
posted by zinfandel at 6:52 PM on January 19, 2010

Any sort of bean dish will work just about the same way.

Deep fried macaroni and cheese has a pretty awesome midway point; the macaroni and cheese.
posted by talldean at 6:08 AM on January 30, 2010

oops, did you, Dear croutonsupafreak mean in the last line... "Friday before work..." ?
posted by AlanKinNA at 10:45 AM on October 25, 2010

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