What's the best meal(s) you've ever cooked?

Inspired by Charlie Wayne’s thread, I ask the Dope mind:

What is the best meal(s) you’ve ever cooked? Please feel free to add for whom, if you like. And a recipe, if you like.

My best meal is a cassoulet with chorizo, roast chicken, and pork chops. When I was making it, it took two days for me to make (one day to roast and disjoint the damn chicken, soaking beans overnight, and then the second day to finish up the recipe).

This became our official “second Christmas Day” meal when my grandmother, mom, and stepdad would visit me as an adult. I’d feed whichever other family showed up, too. That cassoulet served a LOT of people. And was delicious with crusty bread and a salad with a nice homemade vinaigrette dressing.

You don’t need to ever soak beans overnight. Just saying.

Jambalaya. I make killer. Recipe tomorrow as I get time.

How DARE you, you young pup, how DARE you contradict these old wives?

(Seriously, though, I find my beans cook more evenly if they soak. Especially larger and harder beans.)

This meal from last December’s “Second Thanksgiving”. Items cooked (or bought 'n brought) by other participants marked with an asterisk.
20 lb turkey, traditional oven roast
wild rice stuffing
cornbread dressing
brussels sprouts
rutabaga casserole *
butternut squash
crockpot-roasted new potatoes
watermelon rind pickles (home-canned by my dad) *
cranberry sauce (gf’s recipe, whole berry with oranges and zest and stuff) *
“devils on horseback” (bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese) *
3 varieties of red wine *
italian bread *
confectioner pastries *
fruit tarts *
key lime cheesecake *

My favorite meal, of course. Black eyed pea soup with ham hocks or trotters.

My sons were curious about what German food was all about, so I dragged out my Grossmutter’s cook book - all in German - and poured over it to try to get the food as authentic as possible. We had sauerbraten, spatzle, Leipziger allerlei, and apfelstrudel. I really hit the mark on getting the authentic tastes I remembered, while avoiding the organ meats and sometimes rather odd ingredients in much of German food. The family loved it and asked for it again many times over the years. I felt I did my grossmutter proud.

Seafood paella every Christmas now, with a choco-flan desert. Killer meal.

Beef bourguignon.

Spaghetti with Sunday gravy.

I just want to settle an argument with friends. They say real paella should be at least 1 1/2 inch deep in rice, and all ingredients, whether seafood or meat, is cooked “immersed” in the rice. But many online recipes I see say the rice shouldn’t be more than 1/2 inch deep when cooked, and that the seafood is piled on top later, covered in foil, and then baked. They say this is “American paella.”


When I made the recipe Southern Living said to soak those beans, and I’m not going to contradict Southern Living!

I made a lasagna from scratch once (not the noodles, I cheated) for me, my wife and another couple (details not important). It was WONDERFUL!! Didn’t know I had it in me. Lot of work, have not repeated the feat. Yet. I mostly bake.

Fish and chips.
Yep. I make them from scratch. Even catch the fish and grow the spuds myself!

I always cook my paella with the proteins at least half-buried in the rice and broth. This “American paella” thing sounds like a load of shit.

It’s important to use a paella pan (or a reasonable facsimile – I use my 14-inch cast-iron skillet) to get a nice crust of rice on the bottom.

I use the COOK’S ILLUSTRATED recipe for 4-ingredient weeknight paella. The four proteins are chicken thighs, garlicky sausages, shrimp, and clams. I could call this one of our best meals.

I once made some agnolotti according to Lidia Bastianich’s recipe. I cooked up some roast pork and chicken ahead of time, chopped it all up with some spinach and added egg, then made this filling into little stuffed pastas. I boiled them and then tossed them in a pan with melted butter, sage leaves and parmesan cheese.

They were delicate little pillows of delectableness. I consider that dish my biggest triumph.

Neck bones.
Nuf said.

My husband’s mother is German, and so he wanted me to make some German things too. I was hesitant because of course they aren’t going to be like his mom’s, but over a couple years’ time I worked up to making what is now his favorite meal: wiener schnitzel, sauerkraut, applesauce and spaetzle. This is what he requests on his birthday.

I’ve always loved Italian food, so my own personal favorite meal is cacio e pepe with a green salad and bread. Simple and just a few ingredients, but so good. I want to try making these parmesan bowls to serve either the pasta or the salad in when we have guests.

There are a few ways to make the dish. I go with what will feed the people at the table. The versions where it says to add the seafood and then bake it for 30 minutes or so (ala Penelope Casas) will overcook and ruin the seafood, IMO. She claims that her recipes are authentically Spanish, but I don’t buy it. In Spain, you see paella being made for large groups in a huge, open shallow pan over coals.

My paella is deeper, which makes it a little more difficult to cook the rice properly. You really have to stay on top of it and never leave it unattended or let the liquid boil off before the rice is done. The end is the most critical part, as the seafood has to be put in at proper intervals according to cooking time, but attention has to be paid at the same time to creating the socarrat (the lovely browned bottom of the dish) without burning it. I put scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels in mine, along with some smoky Spanish chorizo. The chorizo cooks with the rice, then when the rice starts to brown, in go the shrimps and shellfish. This past Christmas, I steamed the clams and mussels in wine and then just put them on top of the dish before serving. MUCH easier on the nerves. :cool:

I made a great seafood risotto once… but it was expensive and difficult to make. I won’t be trying again soon.

I managed to do Thanksgiving this year, generic basic. Turkey, gravy and six sides, bread n pie.

The dinner wasnt that big of a deal to do…

It was the preparation of the house and dinning room that took the effort. :o

<declutter thread>

…and im not female, if that matters.

I’m a lightweight at cooking. The best meal I cook is spaghetti. I mix velveeta cheese in with the spaghetti sauce, and when the spaghetti is done I mix butter in with the noodles. Then I finely grate some garlic to mix in with the finished meal along with some italian spices.

I suck at cooking, but I once made a burger that tasted exactly like a Burger King Whopper. I don’t know what the secret was, maybe the buns? I haven’t been able to replicate it since.

I can also make a fantastic leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, swiss, on toasted sourdough sandwich.