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Old 09-16-2016, 08:23 AM   #1
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Make Ahead - Timing

Having family Oct 1st as our Thanksgiving (Oct 10th) is not possible for everyone to come.

I am not making anything traditional as I want to serve it buffet style. With little kids, the parents like to stand over them while they eat. We have found this works perfect for us. I am also going to be super busy the 3 days before and really won't have all that much time in the kitchen... so even thou

I usually do a roast, another main of some sort. I want to get away from the roasts. I think I am going to make Gordon Ramsay's Shepherd Pie, Braised Carrots & Peas with Mint Butter, ... that's pretty much as far as I've gotten.

First question - I would like to make the pie now and freeze it. I'm thinking I have to cook it before freezing because of the potato?? I will be making a 9 X 13 pan for this. Fresh it is cooked for about 20 min. in a 400 oven. How long will it take frozen, or should I take it out of the freezer the night before?

I'm also looking at various salmon pie recipes, with crust not potato topping. Although if someone suggests a potato & sweet potato topping, hmmm.... I have choices here. A (pilsbury) Braid put together with cooked ingredients? A traditional pie plate style? with mushrooms and maybe leeks? But again, I need to make it ahead and freeze. The question is pretty much the same... Either would have to be cooked ahead of course, and reheated from frozen, but it is the timing for reheating frozen things to go along with the Shepherds Pie that I'm trying to figure out.

Suggestions?

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Old 09-16-2016, 09:06 AM   #2
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If you cook the shepherd's pie before freezing, it's likely to overcook when you reheat it.

When I make lasagna and freeze it, I put it in the oven frozen, when I turn on the oven, so they warm up together. It takes about twice as long as cooking it fresh, so I plan for that.

I would definitely not cook fish ahead and then reheat it.
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Old 09-16-2016, 09:26 AM   #3
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You can freeze mashed potatoes, but they do change texture. It's been a long time since I've frozen them and I don't remember exactly, but I've never frozen them again if that tells you anything. I got on a time saving/make ahead kick and found recipes you could supposedly make ahead and freeze in individual portions and just reheat. DH and DD weren't really happy with them.

I'm with GG about it overcooking when reheating. What you could do though is make the meat mixture, freeze it, thaw and warm it up a bit in a pan, then finish. You could even make the potatoes a couple of days ahead and keep in fridge until you need to rewarm and finish.

I'd also second about not reheating a fish dish, that just never turns out well. You could cut up everything ahead, veges up to several days and even make the pastry dough (if you are making it vs buying) several days ahead.

Got to remember too that you will need room in the oven for all these things you are talking about freezing/reheating. Not sure how many people you are having, but it sounds like quite a few so I'm guessing you will be making large quantities? I'd be looking at some dishes that can be made ahead and then served at room temp or in a chafing/warming dish of some type that can go on the buffet line.
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:19 AM   #4
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Thanks guys.

I like the idea of the meat ahead and the potatoes kept separate. I could do that.

If I make the salmon braid I'm not worried about freezing it cooked. I have made chicken braids and frozen them. I would poach the salmon like I do the chicken breasts. I guess I had better experiment soon. I'll pick up a bit of salmon today.

I have made salmon patties (cooks Illustrated version, chopping them in the fp). Frozen them cooked and uncooked. Works well, my preference is the uncooked ones, I usually keep them in a container and take out a couple for a quick meal. But cooked works too, I reheat in the toaster oven rather than a pan. They defrost quickly
I could possibly just make a big one and stuff it in the pastry. there's an idea! sort of a vol-au-vent. Make the sauce ahead (to a certain extent! LOL)

It's often up to 10 adults and 7/8 kids (all under 7) We sit the kids at the kitchen table with half the adults behind them - other half at the dining room table but everyone moves around constantly. Mad house but fun! I reserve sit downs for adults only.

Why do I make it so complicated!!! 'Cause I love it when it works?
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:37 AM   #5
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There are a some things you can do a few days ahead. If there is more than one dish that is going to include produce such as celery, onions, diced peppers, carrots, etc. you can spend the day peeling, cutting dicing, etc. If the dishes are calling for different size pieces each, them cut them a bit large and finish the day you are going to assemble and finish cooking each dish.

You could cook the sides partially the day before and then put in the fridge overnight. Finish cooking the day of the event. Try to have a menu that requires using the burners on top for some of the dishes and some in the oven at the same time.

If you are serving desert, may I suggest you hit your local bakery for a couple of different pies and some tartlets. It will free up some pans and time for you. Go about nine/ten in the morning. That is when just about everything they are going to make for the first round of the day starts coming out from the back. at the end of the day, the store will be crowded with folks stopping on the way home from work with a long list in their hands. Put them in the very back near the bottom of your fridge with a big sign of "HANDS OFF".

I know fish for the holidays is a custom for many families. But other than sushi, cooked fish does not reheat up very well at all.

Look to the freezer at your local supermarket. I have never had them, but frozen mashed taters for your Shepherd's Pie might be the answer. I am sure they are treated to prevent problems with reheating them. It will also save you peeling, cooking and mashing time.
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:24 PM   #6
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I am having a hard time understanding what everyone's aversion to reheating salmon is about.

I grew up with Mom making croquets from left over salmon and mash potato from last nights supper.

Salmon cakes, as much as I love the Cooks Illustrated version with fresh salmon, I believe this was originally created by thrifty housewives to use up last nights left overs!

Nobody went out to get fresh salmon just to make croquets and cakes - unless they were using canned. (which, I admit, was also very popular back then, it's just my Dad was a big salmon fan).

Has no one ever made a salmon pie? Either as a 'shepherd's pie' style with potato topping or inside pie crusts?

All of these are made with precooked salmon, whether from a can or a fresh piece gently poached.

I'm not trying to reheat and present a fresh cooked then frozen fish in its original state, but to reheat a braid or pie. I could easily make these with canned salmon but I prefer to cook (poach) my own.

Anyhow I am going to try to do some "mini" ones this weekend or next week. Time is not on my side as I've said there are other things in the air battering at me... so we will see.

LOL might just end up making two shepherd pies LOL (cop out!! )
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:37 PM   #7
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Addie, thanks for all the input. And everybody - you have all given fantastic suggestions and hints. I keep reading over them.

Just to note:- I usually farm out the desserts to my SIL who makes a fantastic trifle - it has sort of become a tradition. I often assign my ex and his girlfriend to bring hors d'oeuvres. The kids, well... I figure they have their hands full with their kids.

Here's one for y'all... my ex & his girlfriend always insist upon helping by doing the dishes... they always seem to forget I don't have a dishwasher. I don't say no...
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:06 AM   #8
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I figured you were using fresh fish. The only canned fish I've ever used is the premium oil-packed tuna in a nicoise salad. My mother didn't like tuna or salmon so I never had any tuna casseroles or salmon cakes as a child, and that continues through today. I understand that lots and lots of people like both, but re-cooking an already cooked fish/seafood product just seems kind of weird to me.
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Old 09-17-2016, 01:06 PM   #9
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I use canned tuna and salmon fairly regular like, for tuna casseroles and pot pie. Not idel compared to fresh, but a cheaper alternative, and with all the flavors going on in a pot pie or casserole don't notice the difference that much. I also have nothing against recooking fish, as has been said upthread, often use leftover salmon if I make a big fresh salmon steak, for croquettes or cakes the next day.

I will often get a large salmon steak, make up the filling (usually peas, stock, onions, a little lemon juice, peppers, garlic), and make a large pie dough. I then make little individual pot pies, with the dough and filling, and freeze them, wrapping them in almuinium foil. They can be just thrown in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Now I cam not saying that would be efficient for what you are doing (i.e. 10 adults and seven or so kids), but I think you can get away if you are using a pie dough based pot pie, vs. a potato based of making ahead and freezing.

Let us know what you decide on, lots of great ideas here.

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Old 09-17-2016, 01:25 PM   #10
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I wonder if the type of fish matters as to a second cooking. I will often take leftover Haddock and make fishcakes. I have never heard of fishcakes being made with raw fish. Always leftovers. And canned fish products are cooked right in the huge pressure cooker at the factory.
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