One base, several meals?
November 6, 2017 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Recently used a recipe where you could make one creamy chicken base and use it for several different recipes (pasta bake/pie/something with spuds). Minced beef and tomatoes is another common one. What other bases could I make a load of and then make several different things out of, depending on whim?
posted by threetwentytwo to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Pork shoulder, slow cooked and shredded or chopped: BBQ sandwiches, tacos (regular or Korean-style), asian rice bowl, mix into a basic tomato sauce for a pasta or polenta ragu...
posted by General Malaise at 12:35 PM on November 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm not sure if this is the same thing or not, but we will regularly roast or slow cook a pork shoulder, which can be eaten as a pork roast with potatoes & carrots (make a gravy with the pan drippings), shredded with BBQ sauce for pulled pork sandwiches, spiced and broiled with lime juice to make carnitas (serve on corn tortillas with cilantro and diced onion), rolled into tortillas and baked in sauce/topped with cheese for enchiladas. Could also be used to make a pozole stew or added to chili.
posted by terilou at 12:36 PM on November 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

We do a lot of multi-meals with a big batch of flavoured brown rice mixed with some legume.

Latin American rice and black/red beans: fill tacos, fry into arepas, use as a grain bowl base

Indian curries: serve on rice, roll up in a roti

Middle Eastern rice and black lentils: grain bowl, roti filling

posted by Beardman at 12:45 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

not to nth pork shoulder, but i just did this for my week of meals because it was on sale at the grocery store. last night's dinner was this with rice and veg and a few different sauces (chimichurri, pan sauce, green chile). tonight'll be baked acorn squash stuffed with pork, leftover rice, and sauteed apples/onions/kale. there will be tacos, and the rest i'll freeze for pulled pork sandwiches, nachos, emergency fried rice, and tourtiere filling. the leftover chimichurri will grace some chicken thighs on tuesday night, to complete the circle.

roast chicken will also serve this function well: i throw one in a skillet, stuff it with lemon/thyme/garlic, drizzle with olive oil/salt/pepper, roast at 450F for ten minutes, then drop it to 350F til it's done. pan gravy, mashed potatoes and veg on the side. then the rest of the chicken is repurposed: tossed with pasta and cherry tomatoes sauteed in olive oil; chicken curry; chicken fried rice; chicken soup (from the carcass); enchiladas.

the makhani base from this recipe is great and can be scaled up for other delights -- you can make a huge batch to freeze, then cook almost anything in it/add almost anything to it and serve it over rice and it's delicious.
posted by halation at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I sort-of do a thing that's one step back from the creamy chicken base you mentioned. On the weekend we buy a rotisserie chicken; we eat the meat and then use the rest to make a stock for the rest of the week. Sometimes we make that into a pot of soup or pasta sauce that keeps getting modified throughout the week with whatever's on hand:

Chicken stock = basic unit.
+ veggies (sauteed onion, carrots, potatoes, frozen/fresh spinach, etc), mushrooms, salt and pepper = a basic, clean soup base
+ meat or beans or lentils = heartier soup
+ soy sauce, vinegar, or a bit of wine = a more flavorful, richer soup
+ tomatoes = a...tomatoier soup
+ spices or herbs, like curry powder = a...transformed soup
+ cream or coconut milk or butter = a thicker, heartier soup
- moisture and + bbq sauce = tangy, sweet sauce

The basic idea is to start out with the simpler, less flavored stages and then add flavors to make something really different as in the case for flavors like bbq or curry.
You can start out with a chunkier mix to use, for instance, as a pasta sauce.
Then thicken (add cheese, eggs, flour, etc) to use as a filling in a pie or phyllo wrap.
To convert to soup or stew, add more stock and additional ingredients or flavorings.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 1:02 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Our leftover rotisserie chicken usually goes into enchiladas, which I just do layered-style instead of in tidy rolls, to save time. This could also be true of shredded beef or pork.
posted by padraigin at 3:13 PM on November 6, 2017

I make ground beef with taco flavorings for tacos, and also use it as the base for shepherd's pie with a corn/creamed corn layer, topped with mashed potatoes and any leftover cheese from tacos.

Meatloaf and meatballs are basically the same stuff, just a different form factor.

Chili can be eaten as is, served on top of pasta or baked potato, used in nachos, used in wraps with rice, beans, etc., also good with scrambled eggs.
posted by theora55 at 3:28 PM on November 6, 2017

Japanese curry works in the same way. You can eat it on rice or with bread, thin it out to make it a soup for udon or put it in a pie. I bet you could make a killer poutine out of it too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:20 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mark Bittman's cookbooks have a lot of ideas for "variations on a theme" like this.
posted by potrzebie at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2017

The other day there were pork jowls on sale (1/2 price!!) and I bought some and slow cooked them with apples and onions and some sherry and chicken broth. They were delicious but we didn't eat them up, and then I made a pasta-sauce out of them by adding tomato passata and a bit of chili and oregano. It was amazing! It was like how you remember spaghetti-o's, not how they actually taste, if that gives you an idea.
The same slow-cooked pork jowls would have made a great pie-filling or ravioli-filling, and the tomato-enhanced version could have become part of a great lasagna or parmigiana.
posted by mumimor at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2017

Pesto is useful. You can have it with pasta, stir it through leftover chicken with a little cream for a fricassee, put it on a baked potato, toss it through roasted vegetables, smear over a piece of grilled salmon or a steak, stir it through warmed beans to have with crusty Italian bread...

Nigel Slater uses a sauce made from cream and mustard for bloody everything. Chicken, pork chops, sausages and mash, pasta (with sausage and fresh basil). It's pretty much cream or creme fraiche and whatever mustard you like (Dijon or wholegrain) to taste, maybe with some garlic, seasoned. A little white wine wouldn't hurt. You could make a big batch then pair it with whatever.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:49 PM on November 7, 2017

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