When you think about comfort foods, I think most of us look back on things we remember from childhood. Dishes our moms or dads cooked for us, consumed around a big table with lots of laughter and love. I didn’t have a particularly traditional upbringing, but I do have tons of warm memories of family meals.
We were pretty lean in my house growing up – with two parents generally balancing a job (or two) with night school and four kids (three teenagers and one much younger – me!), both time and money were always short. To combat this, my parents made a lot of “big pot” meals that could extend as a far as possible.
In particular, I remember huge batches of spaghetti and meatballs, chicken soup with rice, chop suey, and homemade macaroni and cheese. Not only were these dishes that could stretch, they were also warm, hearty meals that really filled you up. Which I guess is the essence of comfort food – something that fills the heart, soul, and tummy.
Interestingly, I am too experimental and too little of a traditionalist to remake my parents’ recipes. But, I do love comfort food and I have a whole host of sauces, stews, and baked pastas that I cook all year round (Forget needing it to be cold to make comfort food! Cozy meals are all always welcome in my belly.).
A few of my favorites:
Chickpea Curry (Redonkulously easy.)
Chilaquiles (I always serve mine with scrambled eggs.)
Lamb Ragu with Ricotta and Mint (for extra credit, make your own ricotta! Damn it, no one asked for a post on cheese… making your own is easy!)
Roast Chicken with Pears, Shallots, and Walnuts (Holy god, this one is good.)
Roast Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish-Chive Sauce (This is my current plan for Christmas dinner.)
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta (Amazing.)
Traditional Yankee Pot Roast (I make Yorkshire pudding with mine, in a nod to the sous-chef’s British roots.)
It goes without saying, but the holidays are a great time for comfort food! For those that like to have the weather be just right for these kinds of meals, it’s getting cold. For those that like to gather with friends and family this time of year, these are perfect to serve a big crowd in that they’ll go far and are pleasing dishes. Lastly, for those for whom the holidays mean stress, these foods will do just what the name implies – comfort.