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DISHY FREEZER DISHES

We’re expecting a truck load of visitors this coming month so I’ve been freezing a selection of mouth-watering meals in expectation. This includes a favourite way of cooking a whole duck — in a slow cooker.

Asian spices flavour the duck which can be served in Chinese pancakes available frozen from many Asian supermarkets, or on rice or noodles.

I like to freeze meals in the containers in which they will be reheated. Line the casserole or baking dish first with foil or plastic film, add the cooked meal, cover tightly and freeze. Once solid, it can be removed and stored in an airtight container back in the freezer. This allows you to use the baking dish for other meals.

Other suitable dinners or desserts to freeze for the future include: lasagne, chillies, curries, fish cakes, meat loaves, muffins, mini bacon and egg pies, chocolate logs and lamingtons.  

Freeze desserts or cakes uncovered until solid but no longer than one hour. Then package in an airtight container. Freezing sweet treats first means any garnish will be kept intact. If left uncovered indefinitely, foods dry out and become freezer burnt losing flavour and texture.

SLOW-COOKED DUCK A LA MANDARIN

Tender and tasty. The mandarins could be replaced with two large oranges. 

2.3kg farmed whole duck
4 shallots, sliced
5cm piece root ginger, peeled and sliced
6 mandarins, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 cup chicken stock
Sauce: 2 cups cooking liquid
1 tablespoon each: rice flour, water
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw the duck completely, if frozen. Wipe the duck inside and out with a paper towel. Remove the wings and legs if the duck is too large for your slow-cooker. They can be cooked alongside the duck.

Place the shallots and ginger on the base of the slow cooker. Insert the mandarins into the duck cavity. Sprinkle the duck evenly with the five-spice. Place breast-side down on the shallots and ginger. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, hoisin and stock. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until very tender. Leave until cool enough to handle.

Place the duck on a chopping board. Pull the meat from the bones. Place the meat evenly in a foil or plastic film-lined baking dish. Chill.

Strain the juices in to bowl. Refrigerate or freeze until the fat sets. Remove the fat. Place the juices in a saucepan. Mix the rice flour and water to a paste and stir into the juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season. Cool. Pour over the duck and freeze. Once solid, remove to an airtight container.

To serve, heat gently from frozen in the baking dish. Can be garnished with grated mandarin rind and segments. 

Serve in Chinese duck pancakes with extra hoisin sauce or on rice topped with shredded spring onions and coriander. Serves 6.

SPANISH CAPSICUMS

1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons each: canola oil, chopped garlic
400g lean minced beef
400g can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons each: dried basil, oregano
salt and pepper to taste
4 red capsicums
1 cup cooked, long-grain rice

Sauté the onion in the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, until softened. Add the garlic and minced beef, stirring well with a fork. Cook, until lightly coloured.

Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked. Season. Cool.

Meanwhile, halve the capsicums lengthwise. Deseed and devein. Blanch in batches in boiling water. Refresh in icy water. Drain and pat dry. 

Combine the rice and meat sauce. Pack into the capsicums. Wrap individually in plastic film. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To serve, thaw the required number of capsicums in the microwave or fridge. To heat, cover and microwave for 3-4 minutes per capsicum .Serves 4.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN

1/2 cup pitted black olives
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons rinsed capers
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons each: fresh rosemary leaves, sugar
1/4 cup each: olive oil, lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
6 small whole chicken legs (thigh and drum)
1 cup chicken stock

Combine the olives, garlic, capers, herbs, sugar, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. 

Place the chicken, skin side up, in a roasting pan together with the marinade. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Pour the pan juices into a saucepan, skim off the fat, add the stock and reduce over high heat until a sauce consistency is reached. Place the chicken in an airtight container. Cover with the cooled sauce and olives. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Serves 6.



 

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