Today I thought I would introduce you to ‘packet meals’. Some people call them ‘presentation meals’. I call them easy peasy all in one meal.
If you don’t know what a packet meal is please allow me to explain. They are one dish meals wrapped in foil and either cooked on the grill or, as I have done many times, cooked in the oven. So you have your meat and vegetables all in one neat little present to open and enjoy! No muss, no fuss.
What is also nice is that you can prepare the foil packets up ahead of time and when you are ready, stick them on the grill or in the oven. This has an added bonus of marinating the meat for some awesome flavor.
The different flavors mingle and mix together beautifully to give you a delicious meal in no time. The different choices to mix together is only limited by your imagination. For today I’ll give you a few recipes to try. They really are good, I do them quite often.
Here is an easy way to set up an assembly line if you are doing more than one or two.
1. Prepare all the vegetables and meat
2. If you are going to cook right away, prepare the grill, or preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
3. Tear off a sheet of foil for each meal. At least 18 x12, also use heavy duty foil. If not then double your foil for each packet. Also spray the side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Some cooks suggest the ‘dull’ side, believe me I’ve done both and it never made any difference to the outcome.
4. Place the food in the order the recipe states (this makes the cooking more even and it looks better once you open the packs, so please do this step!) in the middle of the sprayed sheet of foil. (Alternatively, you could spray half the foil with cooking spray and arrange the food on that. In this case, fold the unfilled half of the foil over the food, then seal all three sides with a double fold.)
5. Bring the long sides of the foil up over the food so the edges meet. Fold edges together with a 1/2″ fold, then fold over again.
6. Fold the other two sides using the same type of double fold. Do not mold the foil around the food too closely; allow space around the food for heat circulation and expansion by making the packets generous.
7. If marinating time is required, refrigerate the packets as the recipe directs. If you’re cooking fish, do not marinate the packets longer than 30 minutes, or the fish will become mushy.
8. When the grill is ready, or coals are at medium heat, (or when your oven is ready) place the packets, seam-side down, on the grill. Cook as the recipe specifies, turning the packets over and moving them around the grill as needed for even cooking.
9. Test at the shortest time specified in the recipe by opening one packet and testing vegetables for tenderness using a knife. Test meat for doneness by using an instant-read meat thermometer.
10. Place each packet on a plate and let your guests open them by cutting a large ‘X’ in the top. Be sure to warn them that the packets will release steam that can burn, so they have to be careful.
Southwest Pork Packets
Courtesy of Kraft.com
If you can’t find packaged Mexican seasoning, combine 1 Tbsp. Chili powder, 1 tsp. Cumin, 1/4 tsp. Garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. Oregano, 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White pepper. (Or you can do like I do and use packaged Taco Seasoning)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
- 14 oz. can ready to serve chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. Mexican seasoning, divided
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 4 boneless pork chops, 1″ thick
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into rings
- 1/3 cup salsa
- Sour cream
- Shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- Crushed blue corn tortillas
Prepare and preheat grill or oven. Spray one side of four 18×12″ sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil with cooking spray.Mix instant rice, broth and 1 Tbsp. Mexican seasoning in large bowl and let stand 5-10 minutes until broth is absorbed. Stir in drained corn, green bell pepper, onions, garlic, and jalapeno pepper.
Sprinkle each pork chop with 1/2 tsp. Mexican seasoning and place on sprayed foil. Spoon rice mixture over each chop, then add bell pepper rings and sprinkle with remaining Mexican seasoning. Top with salsa. Fold foil over the food and seal edges using double fold.
Grill packets 6″ from medium coals for about 15-20 minutes or until pork is just slightly pink in center, turning packets occasionally and rearranging on the grill.
You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until done. Serve with more salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, and crushed tortillas. 4 servings
Image from google.com
You really don’t need to marinate overnight as this recipe says. I have marinated only a couple of hours and the dish still comes out tender and flavorful.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup steak sauce
- 1/3 cup chili sauce
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 (4 oz.) pieces top round steak, 1/2″ thick
- 4 potatoes, sliced 1/8″ thick
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Pepper
- 1 green pepper, cut into rings
- 4 slices red onion
- 2 cups frozen corn
In 2 quart baking dish or zip lock heavy duty plastic bag, combine ketchup, steak sauce, chili sauce, beef broth, jalapeno, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and honey. Add steaks and turn to coat. Cover dish or seal bag and place in a bowl, and refrigerate overnight, turning twice.
Prepare and heat grill. Cut four 18×12″ pieces of heavy duty foil and grease center of one side. Drain steak, reserving marinade. On the greased area of each foil rectangle place 1/4 of the potato slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place drained steak on top of the potatoes and top with some marinade. Top with green pepper slices and one onion slice, then place corn on top. Wrap packets thoroughly using double fold seals.
Place packets, seam side down, on heated grill 4-6″ from medium high coals. Cook 40-50 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender, turning packets over after 15 minutes and rearranging packets often. In small saucepan, bring remaining marinade to boil and boil for 3 minutes. Serve with steaks and vegetables.
You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degrees F oven for 35-40 minutes until done. 4 servings
** If you are concerned with using the marinade that the meat sit in, make up another small batch of marinade fresh to use in the remaining recipe. I actually do this myself.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 1 lbs. Fully cooked Polish sausages or corned beef, cut into 1″ pieces
- 8 small red potatoes, quartered
- 1 small head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup grainy mustard
- 1/2 tsp. Caraway seed
- 1/8 tsp. White pepper
Heat coals on grill or prepare gas grill. Divide sausage, potatoes, cabbage, and onion among four 18×12 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil.In small bowl, combine garlic, ketchup, mustard, caraway seed, and pepper and mix well. Spoon over the food. Seal foil with double folds.
Grill, uncovered, 6 inches from medium high coals 30-40 minutes or until cabbage and potatoes are tender. You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until done. Serves 4
Glazed Drumsticks and Veggie Packet
This simple four ingredient recipe is a meal in one. Use your favorite frozen vegetables.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
- 1/4 cup pineapple preserves
- 1/3 cup chili or steak sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/8 tsp. Pepper
- 8 chicken drumsticks
- 2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
- 2 cups frozen pepper and onion stir-fry mixture, thawed
Prepare and preheat grill. Combine preserves, chili sauce, and honey in small bowl and mix. Reserve two tablespoons, for vegetables. Place drumsticks on grill 6 inches from medium coals. Cook for 20-30 minutes until juices run clear and chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning chicken occasionally and brushing with pineapple mixture during last 10 minutes of cooking.While chicken is cooking, cut two 12×12″ pieces of heavy duty foil. Place vegetables in center of one piece of foil and top with reserved two tablespoons pineapple mixture. Top with remaining piece of foil and fold the edges twice to seal. Cook on the grill for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally and rearranging on the grill, until vegetables are heated and tender. Serve vegetables with chicken. 4 servings
Can also be baked in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or till chicken is done.
Five-Spice Shrimp & Vegetable Packets
Chinese five-spice powder makes this combo of shrimp, corn, snap peas and bell pepper sublime. Serve with quinoa or brown rice.
Courtesy of EatingWell.com
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, (see Shopping Tip)
- 3 tablespoons rice wine, (see Shopping Tip) or dry sherry
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, (see Shopping Tip)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, (optional)
- 1 1/4 pounds raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound; see Note), peeled and deveined
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (from 1 large ear; see Tip)
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine (or sherry), honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, five-spice powder and crushed red pepper (if using) in a large bowl. Add shrimp and mix well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (or see Grill Variation, below).
- To prepare packets, start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine. Use scissors to cut out the heart shape. Open up the heart.
- Combine corn with snap peas and bell pepper in a medium bowl.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer one-fourth of the shrimp to one side of each open heart fairly close to the crease and leaving at least a 1-inch border around the edges for folding. (Reserve the marinade.) Place one-fourth of the vegetable mixture (about 1 cup) on top of each portion of shrimp.
- Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed. Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet (packets may overlap slightly). Bake until the shrimp is just cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. (Carefully open one package to check for doneness"be cautious of the steam.)
- Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high and boil until reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Let the packets rest unopened for 5 minutes. Serve the shrimp and vegetables drizzled with the reduced marinade.
TIPS & NOTES
- Make Ahead Tip: Equipment: Parchment paper or foil
- Shopping Tip: Five-spice powder is typically made from fennel, cloves, peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon. It combines the five main tastes of Chinese cuisine: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Find five-spice powder in the spice section or along with toasted sesame oil and rice wine in the Asian section of your supermarket or at Asian markets.
- Note: To de-vein shrimp, use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp. Under running water, remove the tract with the knife tip.
- Kitchen Tip: To remove corn from the cob, stand an uncooked ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
- Grill Variation: Cooking in packets is great for the grill, but it’s not safe to put parchment paper over an open flame, so use foil. To prepare packets for grilling, start with eight 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of foil. Layer two sheets for each of four packets (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning). Arrange the ingredients on one half of each double layer. Fold the foil over the ingredients and tightly seal the packets by crimping and folding the edges together. Grill over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the packets to another spot on the grill about halfway through to ensure even cooking.