April 4, 2012

5 Make-Ahead (and Freeze) Argentinean Favorites

So many of my favorite Argentinean recipes, however delicious, can be rather…time and labor intensive.  Meaning, there is no way they are making it to the dinner table on a weeknight if I'm making it that same day from scratch.  However, making a double batch of something on a weekend and freezing half makes eating our favorites possible, anytime. A little planning makes pulling something from the freezer a great way to eat something delicious and homemade, even on the nights when you can't cook. Below, some of our favorite dishes that are freeze-friendly (any how to freeze them).

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Empanadas

Making and freezing empanadas to bake later is a snap.  Prepare the empanadas up until the point you would bake them (minus the egg wash).  Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper as if they are ready to go into the oven, then 'flash freeze' by putting the baking sheet into the freezer for about 30 minutes.  When they are frozen enough to handle, put them, a dozen or so at a time, into labeled freezer bags.  Place in the freezer until ready to use. The empanadas are best if used within 2 months. When ready to bake, set the frozen empanadas out on baking sheets. Defrost them, covered in plastic wrap to prevent drying, at room temperature, for about 2 hours (or for several hours in the refrigerator). Test to ensure they are sufficiently defrosted by pressing or squeezing lightly.  Brush the empanadas with beaten egg. Bake as directed, at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 15  to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Baked empanadas can also be frozen, which is nice when done in single serving bags of 3 empanadas each.  The empanadas can be heated in the microwave for a quick snack or lunch.  The flavor and texture isn't superb in this scenario, but it's a good and fast solution. I usually cook them at fifty percent to defrost, then a little more as needed to heat through.

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Medialunas

Freezing medialunas is a lot like freezing empanadas.  Prepare the medialunas up until the point you would bake them (minus the egg wash).  Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper as if they are ready to go into the oven, then 'flash freeze' by putting the baking sheet into the freezer for about 30 minutes. When they are frozen enough to handle, put them, a dozen or so at a time, into labeled freezer bags. Place in the freezer until ready to use. The medialunas are best if used within 2 months. When ready to bake, set the frozen medialunas out on baking sheets. Defrost them, covered in plastic wrap to prevent drying, at room temperature, for about 2 hours (or for several hours in the refrigerator). Test to ensure they are sufficiently defrosted by pressing or squeezing lightly.  Bake as directed, at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 15  to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

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Niños Envueltos

Prepare the Niños Envueltos up until the point they would go into the oven to bake.  I like to use 'disposible' aluminum casserole pans for this–they take little space in the freezer, and can also be given as a gift to a new mom or sick friend without needing to get your dish back. I like the loaf-sized pans, but you can use the size you need to accommodate the size of your family.  Anyway, assemble your little cabbage rolls and put them in the aluminum pan.  Cover in tomato sauce, then cover the pan with foil and label it with the date and contents.  Freeze until the day you are ready to bake, and then defrost for several hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.  Test for defrosting using  a sharp knife, then bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Potato and Ricotta Ñoquis

Prepare the Ñoquis until the point of boiling, but rather than boil them, lay them out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and place in the freezer to 'flash freeze' for thirty minutes.  Then remove to a labeled freezer bag.  When ready to use, simply drop the frozen Ñoquis into the boiling water as you would fresh ones.  Your texture is going to be slightly different, so if you know you are making some Ñoquis specifically for freezing, use a little extra flour in the dough, even if they seem a little tough–the freeze and boil tends to give them a softer texture.

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Humitas en Chala

Prepare the Humitas en Chala up to the point of steaming them.  (Humitas themselves, just as a filling, can be frozen in a container or freezer bag.)  Simply place the little tamales into a freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to cook, steam longer than normal, until defrosted and heated through. They can also be microwaved, at fifty percent heat, until defrosted and heated.

Freeze on!  Enjoy later!

What are your favorite make-and-freeze meals?

3 Responses to “5 Make-Ahead (and Freeze) Argentinean Favorites”

  1. Excellent tips dear Rebecca.
    I wish you and your family a Happy Easter/Feliz Pascua.
    Tlaz

  2. Hi Rebecca, its funny how a few months ago I came upon your website and today, i come across it again by accident. I have lived in Argentina for 16 years, my parents being from there. Now living here going on 23 years, you start missing the things that were so day to day things…Today I have made for the first time “Rosca de Reyes” and to my surprise it was very much what I remembered it tasting like.! WOW
    I just also remembered it having some form of “sugar” along side with the custard. Would you know how to make it?
    You are part of my “favorites” now, so I will be reading more of what you post and seeing what you have….Happy Easter from a new follower….Daphne

  3. Nices pictures for nice recipe.
    Thanks, a french cooker
    Chantal
    http://www.macuisineetvous.com

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