March 23, 2016 – Hi there, my name is Chef Scott from the ALDI Test Kitchen and today I’m sharing five simple steps that will turn your dull frozen food into a delicious culinary creation. You know what I’m talking about, these are the bagged vegetables in the back of the freezer that are only pulled out on a busy day, or that bag of chicken you swear you’ll use sometime.
Always pick the best handled frozen food. When deciding which frozen foods to make a part of your meal, keep this simple tip in mind: check packaging for ice crystals that may have formed on the product, this is especially important for meat and seafood. Ice crystals can indicate improper freezing or storage which could result in freezer burn and a flavor almost impossible to mask.
When you’re cooking frozen veggies for dinner, the best way to unlock the natural deliciousness of these frozen wonders is to steam or sauté them. Boiling can lead to a soggy, mushy mess that is as unappealing to the eye as it is to the palate. If you take a few extra minutes to sauté in butter, extra virgin olive oil or cook them in a steamer, you’ll see your efforts rewarded tenfold. If you’re running behind and absolutely need your vegetables “right now!” you can always pop them into a microwave safe container with a little bit of water, zap for 5 minutes and VOILA!
That’s right, save! Save those frozen veggies for last when using them as a part of a recipe. Frozen vegetables go from frozen to finished quickly. So unless you want the soggy, mushy mess I warned about above, save those veggies until the very end. They’ll stay fresher, taste great longer and can wind up saving you time because they cook so quickly!
Spices are a frozen food’s best friend. A little bit can go a long way towards adding a nice pop of flavor to any frozen meal. Rub some honey, lemon juice and garlic onto that frozen chicken breast before cooking it for a sweet and tangy delight. Add red pepper flakes, butter and a dash of paprika to your frozen corn to give it a spicy kick you’re sure to love. There are endless possibilities when it comes to spices!
Cream, tomato, butter, barbecue, hot…I could go on for days. If spices are a frozen food’s best friend, then sauces are family. A hearty cream sauce is the perfect addition to a frozen chicken breast; it can add substantial flavor and moisture to a sometimes dry and flavorless item. Let it be known that you can confidently pair any of your favorite sauces with frozen food and expect stellar results. Like I always say “There’s no such thing as too much sauce.” Plus, sauces can be better-for-you. Just look for lighter options while perusing the shelves or go as simple as olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sauces offer an endless array of flavors, textures and appearances you can use to dress up your frozen foods. And as in life, when you’re not sure what to do and your frozen food has you stumped and confused, call on family and they’ll get you through.
Making frozen foods into a meal that will satisfy and delight is quick and easy. All you need is a little courage, a dash of boldness or maybe a pinch of audacity to try something new, and you will see that frozen foods can be amazingly satisfying. Leave a comment below with your ideas on how to spice up a menu made with frozen food. I look forward to hearing from you. And don’t forget, Be BOLD.
Chef Scott joined ALDI in 2013 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. He has over 6 years of culinary experience which includes restaurant expertise, recipe development and teaching culinary skills. While in school, he enriched his education by working for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Discovery Center making confections and learning techniques in chocolate crafting. He specializes in traditional French and Japanese cuisines, fusing both into new and exciting flavors. Inspired by his love of culinary fusion, Chef Scott makes a habit of creating every holiday meal for his family and friends, documenting his ideas along the way.