My Top 3 Do-Ahead Dinners

May 11, 2012

in Entrees,Recipes

We’ve been super busy lately, traveling, reading, exploring and visiting friends and cousins.

Reaching for Shells

We’ve been to Boston, where we dipped our fingers in the new shark and ray touch-tank at the New England Aquarium; gazed awestruck at the modern Alex Katz prints and ancient gemstone jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts; and got thoroughly inspired by the mechanical sculpture of Arthur Ganson at the MIT Museum.

We’ve been picking strawberries (for sorbet) and house-sitting the baby chicks from Stella’s UNC science class.

We’ve tried to get in some stargazing, but the weather hasn’t complied…maybe it will for the Venus Transit on June 5.

With all this busyness, I’ve needed to rely on easy make-ahead meals for dinners (and leftovers for lunch on the go). Below are my top three picks. Some are simpler than others, but all of them come together fairly easily with a little planning early in the day.

With summer nearly upon us, I hope you’ll take some time to get out of the office or house and enjoy something special: reading at the beach, visiting the Carolina Raptor Center and making a pilgrimage to Lexington BBQ are all on my list. What’s on yours?

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

What can I say about carnitas that hasn’t been said before? It’s salty, savory, slightly crispy, but mostly tender. Delicious with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash, homemade guacamole and salsa, and fresh corn tortillas. Carnitas aren’t spicy, so they’re perfect for young and old alike. And since they’re made in a slow cooker, your active kitchen time is under 30 minutes.

Asian-Spiced Braised Beef Short Ribs

Asian-Spiced Braised Short Ribs

Braised beef short ribs need to be browned, which takes about 20 minutes. After that, they go in a pot in the oven for 3 hours, largely attended. It’s true, you need to take the time to prep the aromatics and spices, but it’s well worth it. These ribs fill the house with a beguiling aroma of star anise and sherry, and they won’t disappoint at the table. Serve these with steamed rice, mashed sweet potatoes or sauteed chard or kale.

Kumquat Cherry Grilled Chicken

Kumquat Cherry Grilled Chicken

This sauce calls for homemade kumquat marmalade, but you can easily substitute apricot jam for the sake of ease. Doing so makes the sauce comes together quickly. By marinating the chicken overnight and grilling it first thing in the morning, you can pack this in the fridge to eat later in the day, either cold, at room temp or heated up. It’s light and flavorful, and pairs well with any salad, slaw or grilled vegetables.

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