There’s nothing wrong with taco night. Or taco nachos night. Or frozen pizza night. If that’s your mental state tonight, envision us right there next to you, rifling through the freezer and preheating the oven. But sometimes you have just enough energy to muster a comfort food menu and follow a recipe, but you don’t want to feel totally depleted afterwards. You want the results to feel comforting, but also special. Enter: Ina Garten.
What if you took one chill evening to make a few different comfort-forward dishes for you and the one you love? It could be you and the kid, you and the partner, or you and the hungry teen. We scoured our Ina recipes, and although there are tons we adore, here’s the comfort-centric winter menu we think you need. (Pro tip: Start the chicken and potatoes together in the oven at 350, add the broccolini when you pull the taters and crank up the oven to 400, and put the dessert into a 350-degree oven as you two sit down to eat your meal.)
Broccolini can be the tiniest bit bitter, so you’ll need and want plenty of olive oil and cheddar to add unctuousness and an umami boom. Because the broccolini roasts at such a high temperature, it will get crispy, almost candied edges, which along with that cheese will make you feel not at all like you’re “getting your vegetables.” This recipe is sneakily delicious and good for you.
We’re going to go out on a limb and say that there’s pretty much nothing so comforting as crisp roasted potatoes. Yukon golds are our choice more often than not, and Emily’s English roasted potatoes do the trick quite nicely. The taters par-boil before getting a good shake in a hot pot, to rough up their edges. You’ll taste the extra crunch when they come out of the oven.
There must be chicken. Crispy mustard-roasted chicken, ideally. Redolent of classic French notes like thyme, lemon, garlic, Dijon mustard and dry white wine, this is a whole chicken dipped in mustard and panko. Crisp-skinned and juicy at once, it’s the recipe you need for a cold winter night.
Somewhere between a cocktail and the desserts of your dreams lives applesauce cake with bourbon raisins. This cake didn’t come to play: There’s bourbon in the frosting, in the cake batter itself, and even soaking the raisins that float, tantalizing you, in the applesauce batter. (You read that right; it’s an applesauce-based batter, meaning no tetchy peeling of apples!) It’s so good, so Ina, and just the thing to ease you towards an actual cocktail (like a Maple-Bourbon Smash) to wind down your day. Ahh.
For most of these recipes and many more like them, check out Ina’s newest cookbook, Modern Comfort Food (Penguin Random House, 2020).