Monday, November 19, 2018

food-prep schedule

Over a week ago, I created a Google Docs file charting out the food prep that I must do this coming week. I've got the usual luminaries coming over on Saturday the 24th, the weekend after Thanksgiving, for a non-traditional, post-Thanksgiving shindig. Our theme started out as BBQ—not true barbecue from the Texan point of view, mind: Texans dichotomize barbecuing and grilling: grilling is high heat for a short time (think: burgers, dogs, and chicken legs), while barbecuing is "low and slow," as they say: your meat is in the smoker for hours and hours, softening up on the inside while developing a lovely bark on the outside, as would happen with a brisket. That's true barbecue, but the only things I have to work with are my oven, my slow cooker, and my kitchenette's meager stovetop range. Now, however, our theme has boomeranged back to Thanksgiving, and we've added cranberry sauce, apple crumble, and stuffing to the menu. In the meantime, the main thrust of what I'm cooking remains BBQ-themed, and I've arranged the various dishes on a meal-prep schedule, on which I've tried to sequence the dishes logically, ascending in order of priority, like a sort of culinary triage moving forward in time but backward in urgency from least delicate to most delicate: the least delicate dishes can be made early and stored in the fridge or freezer with little danger of spoiling or otherwise degrading; the most delicate dishes have to be made the very day of the meal so that they're fresh, not reheated. I'll now share that schedule with you:

MONDAY: prep the pulled pork. When done, freeze that fucka' for Saturday.

TUESDAY: prep the pulled beef. (I'm still getting used to saying "pulled beef" as opposed to "shredded beef"; "pulled beef" sounds awkward to me, but I've since found plenty of recipes online that use that very term.) Freeze the beef when it's done. For Saturday.

ALSO TUESDAY: make sage breakfast sausage. The meat needs to sit overnight.

WEDNESDAY: prep the stuffing. I've already bought all the ingredients I'll need to make a smallish batch of stuffing for four hungry guys. One of us—Tom—most likely won't be eating the stuffing because it'll have things like minced onion and celery in it. Tom avoids vegetables. He still isn't dead despite this.

THURSDAY: prep the two slaws in the evening: corn slaw and cole slaw. In theory, both of these are easy to prep, and if stored correctly, they'll both be crunchy and fresh on Saturday.

FRIDAY: prep the sausage and the baby-back ribs. I'll be pan-frying the sausage and finishing it all in beer. When I did this a short while back, the smell in my apartment was glorious. The baby-back ribs will be an oven-baked prep, courtesy of Chef John. The ribs will need to start thawing (they're currently frozen) on Wednesday night to be ready for Friday's bake. The sausage can start off frozen; that won't matter so much.

SATURDAY: some things need to be served fresh out of the oven or fresh off the stove, so I'm devoting Saturday morning and early afternoon to making the bacon mac & cheese and the barbecue chicken. I've had two kilos of chicken breast sitting in my freezer for months, and it's time to break those breasticles out and let their cluck flag fly. They'll start thawing on Thursday, then I'll brine them for a couple hours on Saturday morning before cooking them to what I hope will be plump and juicy perfection. The mac and cheese (Mike Symon's recipe again) can't be made in advance and refrigerated for several days: it'll seize up, and the pasta will take on a strange texture if I reheat the dish on Saturday. No: it's better to cook the mac & cheese just before the guests arrive.

To this medley, I might add an apple-cinnamon side—essentially, a pie filling—that will pair nicely with many of the sausages on offer. I've got a range of sausages, too: kielbasa, Knackwurst (lots of Knackwurst, for some odd reason), WeiƟwurst, Bratwurst, and Regensburger Wurst. Along with ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and pulled beef, that really ought to be more than enough protein for the troops. Whatever's left over will, in part, go with any guests who want to cart off leftovers; the rest will be distributed to coworkers at work, and if I end up running out of certain things (like the pulled meats and the baby-back ribs), I'll buy more ingredients and cook more food because that's how I roll.

Expect lots of photos.

ADDENDUM: Charles will be bringing bread, the aforementioned apple crumble, and the aforementioned cranberry sauce. He was also supposed to be bringing along his wife, but they're getting divorced or something (juuuust kidding).


Charles said...

Might I recommend against the apple-cinnamon side? It sounds like it would make the crumble redundant, as the crumble is also essentially a pie, just without the crust. Perhaps the cranberry sauce can play the role of fruity sidekick instead.

Kevin Kim said...

Okay. One less thing to do, and I don't want to step on any toeses.

Charles said...

I also don't want you to have to do so much prep, man! I know you enjoy this, but you are taking on the lion's share here. The apple crumble is just me wanting to take care of one little thing for you.