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Family meal help

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello:

I'm a relatively new pantry cook, and my job includes cooking the family meal. I think I'm actually luckier than most when it comes to this task because a) I actually really like doing it, always did even throughout culinary school, and b) our operation is large enough and run in such a way as to include fresh ingredients specifically for family meal, wonder of wonders.

As in, one day the sous chef asked me what I'd like ordered (!) for family meal. I said a bit uncertainly "More chicken?". And lo and behold, the next day there were some whole freerange birds for me to cut up and cook.

Anyway... yeah, I know I have it easier than most but I'd still like to hear about your ideas of what to quickly make with proteins that have already been cooked, especially roasted pork loin, big hunks of roasted lamb and flank steak.

Sad as it sounds, I struggle with utilizing the cooked protein leftovers, in part because I kind of missed out on the American childhood growing up food experience. You know, things like sloppy joe and hot dish, that kind of thing. Yeah, boo hoo lame-assed me, right? :D No seriously, coming from a Chinese family where we also had a local butcher shop and fresh produce all the time, I have no palate for that kind of American food, so consequently I have a hard time cooking it correctly.

Things I have made: variations on roasted chicken thighs and legs using different spice rubs, blanched or sauted veggies, different rice pilafs, Thai and Indian inspired curries, tempura, basically Asian things. One time I got a half package fresh pork butt, and I seared that with five spice powder and some green onions, then braised in soy sauce, mirin, lots of minced ginger, star anise and brown sugar. Asian inspired again!

People love it of course, but I'm being pressured to come up with things less elaborate and in a faster time. I understand why, and I would like to do this. I am just hoping I can without sacrificing the food itself to memories of institutional school lunch or pasta with cream of blat.

So, good ideas for non-school lunch family meal which are fast? Especially those which make use of leftover cooked proteins?

Thank you. :D
post #2 of 12
Make fried rice on the flatop! :)

Gravy gravy gravy!

Pot pie (more gravy) :)

Mole with flank steak, tortillas, fresh salsa. (that's Mexican gravy)

Shepherd's pie. (English gravy)

Even more gravy, smoked hamhock gravy with bechamel is pretty good. (use ham stock)
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
:lol: Gravy!

I think you're right though, as far as gravy gravy gravy is concerned. People really love gravy, and as a bonus, it hides all manner of sin!

I always forget about fried rice because I associate it with using up leftover rice, which we never have at the restaurant. The thought of cooking up a fresh batch of rice just to make fried rice is weird to me, but I should just get over that and do it, hehe.

Got a quickie recipe for mole? The only one I know is the old 'n' slow all day method!

Also, for pot pie, can I really just make a pie crust, line a full hotel pan with it, then pour in the cubed leftovers with veg and gravy gravy gravy :lol:, plop another sheet of pie crust on top, crimp around the edges to seal, and bake until done? Would that work?

Thank you. :D

Today's family meal: tempura made from halibut scraps, carrots, cauliflower and red pepper. Rice with seaweed and sesame seasoning sprinkled over the top. "Tempura dipping sauce" of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, minced ginger. Salad provided by the other pantry worker.
post #4 of 12
You don't have to make mole, just make a dry chile sauce. Remove seeds from chiles, lots of chiles, saute but don't burn. Saute garlic, onion, herbs, other spices like cumin, coriander. Put in blender with chiles. Add to pan, saute around for few minutes, add stock, simmer.
post #5 of 12
For Pot Pie, I wouldn't bother with a bottom crust, just the top. You can make pie dough, but store bought puff pastry works well, or even biscuits or biscuit dough. Also what is the ethnic make up of your kitchen. I always worked with a lot of hispanics and mexicans and could never go wrong with tacos and rice. During summer, when it's hot, I also would do a lot of entree style salads. One of the biggest hits was a "Thai" Chicken Salad (romaine, carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, fresh basil, fresh mint, strips of grilled chicken and a thai peanut sauce).

A few other ideas:
Mac & Cheese
Sloppy Joes
Lasagna
Pasta, Pasta Pasta, with garlic bread of course!!!
Jambalaya (or another version of paella)
Burgers & Fries (always a big hit)
Burritos
Pizzas (another huge hit)
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #6 of 12
Yeah, you can put anything on pizza. :)
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, the last two cocina familia have been gravy gravy gravy!

Though I also got lucky with the gravy, because the day before's meal included the use of this creamy bacon and cheese soup, so it was no problem to add cubed chicken and potatoes to it. We have a bakery/pastry kitchen connected to the restaurant, so loaves of bread sliced up served as the starch.

Then today, there was a big pot of chicken demi reducing over one of the burners, so I ladled up some of that and simmered it with shallots, thyme, sage, and thickened it with stock and flour whisked in. Strain, season, and that was gravy for thinly sliced and reheated leftover pork loin and lamb, plus mashed potatoes, and sauted pea vines for the veg. I'm glad we get leafy greens in massive quantites each day.

I need to try the biscuit crust pot pie idea next time. And we also have a mysterious can of pizza sauce that showed up one day, nobody knows who ordered it, so perhaps pizza as well.

Thanks everyone. :D
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
So I'm curious, what did you all make or have for family meal today?

I know tomorrow when I go in, there will be four overcooked lamb roasts waiting for family meal conversion.
post #9 of 12
I don't do family meal, but you know you can grind that cooked lamb.
post #10 of 12
Moussaka......

I used to take the trimmings from the beef tenderloins and make BBQ beef sandwiches for FM

There's just something about eating food other than kitchen food......it was weird working in a Continental Restaurant (aka french) and having other smells come out of the kitchen.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 12
I've done all manner of family meals and reached one conclusion.
Hot dogs rule. Burgers too.
I used to cook elaborate meals. Show off my skills, my seasoning. Nobody complained but no body showed the kind of excitement I saw when I got lazy and grilled some hot dogs.
Servers in most rest(and most cooks too) appear to want lunch truck food more that anything in the world. Beats me why. As long as it's not heavy, I'll eat anything different.
post #12 of 12
I use to make family meals is a busy fine dining french restaurant. I use to make pizza dough a head of time and throw it in the freezer for those days that I was lazy. But for the most part I would make things like shepard's pie, ratatouille, red and green curries -- my own paste, burritos, any kind of sandwhich I could think up of but mostly salmon salad because I was always given fish that was on the verge and had to cook the **** out of it. Fried rice, pasta, salad. I tried to remeber that we lonely cooks only really ate at work so I tried to keep the meal as balanced as possible with lots of veggies. As long as it was fast and used up all the crap in the fridge, my chef didn't really care what I did. But these were my guys, and I did care, as should u.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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