Hi Everyone, Sunday lunch is one of the most looked-forward to meals of the week. Depending on how you view Sundays, the Sunday lunch meal can signify a high start to the new week. Or, it can be the culmination after a hard week of work; a feast to be leisurely enjoyed.
It is the one day that many of us get to flex our cooking muscles. We may try new dishes, twists to old favourites, and sometimes it’s just that we make a wider variety of food such as we would on a holiday or festival. Though highly appreciated by all that partake in the breaking of bread at this gathering, the task of preparing Sunday lunch is a lot of work. In many families one person does most if not all of the work and that results in long hours in the kitchen. It is the norm in many homes that Sunday lunch is served late, like say 1 – 1.30 pm, or whenever the food is finished cooking. With thought and planning, we can be out of the kitchen much earlier even if we choose to serve/have Sunday lunch later.
My brother often accused me of making “a million things” whenever I made the Sunday meal. According to him it meant that lunch would be very late. For the record, lunch would be around 1 to 1.30 pm, which I found to be totally acceptable, especially given that he woke up closer to noon on Sundays!
Many households already do some type of preparation for the big meal the day before, even if it is the purchasing of ingredients. If you already do prep the day before for your Sunday lunch, then use today’s column as a refresher, and if you don’t generally do any prep, try some of the ideas, particularly the ones that would work for you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of dishes to prep for Sunday lunch; I chose the things that most people generally make on the weekends. It’s some of the signature staples. Of course these suggestions can work for any big meal you are planning, particularly if you are making any of the dishes from the list below.
The day before: cook the pasta, make the cheese sauce, mix them together and then add to an oiled or buttered ovenproof dish (the same one in which you plan to bake the pie). Let the mixture cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring the pie up to room temperature and bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven.
Stews (poultry and meats)
The day before: cut, wash and pat dry the ingredient. Season it with your choice of herb paste or spice mix or plain salt and pepper along with any liquid seasonings such as soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Cover tightly in airtight container or bowl with cover, or plastic wrap and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring the meat or poultry up to room temperature and cook your preferred way of making stews.
Roasts (Whole Chicken & Large-Cut Meats)
The day before: season chicken or meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate. Certain meats you will want to salt just before adding to the oven such as lamb or beef, the reason being that the salt can remove some of the moisture from red meats. Pork and chicken are fine.
On Sunday: bring the meat, poultry up to room temperature and bake in a preheated oven based at the recommended temperature and time specified by the recipe you are using.
Curries (meat, poultry, seafood)
The day before: cut, wash, clean and pat dry the poultry, meat or seafood. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate. If you usually season your meat for curries, go ahead and do so, if not, grind up the seasonings and masala. Mix the paste, transfer to a container and refrigerate. If using coconut milk, grate the coconut, put in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring ingredients – meat, poultry, seafood, masala paste and grated coconut (if using) to room temperature. Make the coconut milk and then cook curry your preferred way.
The day before: boil peas and make the filling. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
On Sunday: knead dough and while it rests, bring filling up to room temperature. Fill dough. Rest again and then cook.
You can actually knead the dough the day before also and store it in an airtight container and bring it up to room temperature the following day before filling it with the spiced-pea-filling.
Fried Rice (Vegetable)
The day before: steam/cook rice, let cool completely and refrigerate in airtight container. Chop, dice ingredients – bora, carrots, garlic, ginger, hot peppers and green onions/scallions. Put in individual containers and refrigerate.
If you are cooking meat in the fried rice, cut up and season the meat and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring all the ingredients to room temperature and cook.
The day before: slice, cut all your veggies – bora, carrots, cabbage and pak-choy (if using), ginger, garlic, hot peppers, green onions. Put in individual containers and refrigerate. If you really want to make quick work, you can boil the noodles with oil, drain well, cool completely and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring all the ingredients up to room temperature and cook.
If you are cooking meat in the chowmein, cut up and season the meat and refrigerate. You may be cooking your chowmein with stripped-chicken meat. To do this, steam or poach the chicken the day before in water to which you add slices of fresh ginger, star anise, garlic and a piece of onion along with a few peppercorns. Let the chicken cool completely in the liquid before removing it. Strip the meat from the bones, and tear into thick pieces and refrigerate in an airtight container.
The day before: cook the potatoes and any veggies you are adding – carrots, bora – in salted water. Dice/chop the other ingredients you wish to add that do not need cooking – scallions/green onions, sweet peppers, corn. Mix all the ingredients together with your dressing of mayonnaise and some mustard if you like. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
On Sunday: transfer to a chilled bowl and serve.
Garden salad/tossed salad
The day before: wash, dry and tear the lettuce, prep the other ingredients slicing or chopping depending on what you are putting into the salad (if you are using tomatoes, leave them whole until the following day). Place each ingredient in its own airtight container and refrigerate. Make the salad dressing and refrigerate.
On Sunday: bring all the ingredients to room temperature, toss to mix. Slice tomatoes if using and dress the salad just before serving.
Depending on the combination of your menu, some items can be cooked simultaneously in the oven, especially if they are to be cooked at the same oven temperature. Macaroni pie, baked chicken and baked pork can be cooked at the same temperature though for varying times. If you are cooking your stew in the oven, it can go in at the same temperature of the macaroni pie, baked chicken or pork.
Long cooking roasts can be served with make-ahead salads like potato or pasta. Quick cooking rice dishes are ideal too.
Flans, custards, ice cream, cakes, sweet breads, buns, puddings etc. can all be made the day before. Some will require refrigeration.
So what’s on the menu tomorrow?