What’s for Dinner Tonight: An easy basil-balsamic marinade for pork chops, chicken

If you like to get a head start on dinner by preparing batches of food on the weekend, you might already have a copy of “Fix, Freeze, Feast,” a book by Kati Neville and Lindsay Ahrens that came out about a decade ago to show cooks how to fill their freezer with ready-to-cook meals.

The recipe for these basil-balsamic pork chops includes instructions for freezing them in smaller quantities so you can make quick meals without the prep work. Contributed by Alexandra Grablewski

The authors are back with a second edition of “Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family; Stock Your Freezer with Ready-to-Cook Meals” (Storey, $18.95), which includes more than 150 recipes that are written to help you prepare parts of a meal before freezing so that it is easy to cook or assemble when it’s time to eat. This pork chop recipe exemplifies this basic but effective time-saving strategy.

The basil-balsamic marinade in this recipe can double as a salad dressing if you have extra — remember, don’t reuse the marinade that the pork has been sitting in. The authors suggest using leftover pork with leftover rice to make a quick stir-fry. Then you can wrap the pork and rice in a flour tortilla and add shredded cheddar cheese, black beans, chopped scallion and sour cream for yet another meal that started from the same original batch of loin chops.

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Basil-Balsamic Chops

The marinade in this recipe is also our best-loved salad dressing. Make an extra batch to serve over salad greens — you may never buy commercial dressing again. You may substitute 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves for the pork chops, and when it’s time to cook them, heat over a grill or in a broiler until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees.

— Lindsay Ahrens

12 pork loin chops, boneless or bone-in (6 to 8 pounds)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons dried basil
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
To pack it up: Three 1-gallon freezer bags, labeled

Divide chops evenly among freezer bags. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and honey. Divide marinade evenly over chops. Into each bag, measure 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon garlic and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Seal and gently shake each bag to combine contents. Freeze. Food will stay at optimal quality for up to 3 months in freezer.

To cook: Completely thaw one freezer meal in refrigerator. Prepare on an outdoor grill or indoors under a broiler. If cooking outside, grill chops, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a chop reads 145 degrees. Discard remaining marinade.

If cooking in an oven, arrange chops on an ungreased broiler pan. Broil chops under high heat, 5 inches from heat source, turning frequently, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a chop reads 145 degrees. Discard remaining marinade. Makes 3 freezer meals with 4 servings each.

— From “Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family; Stock Your Freezer with Ready-to-Cook Meals” by Kati Neville and Lindsay Ahrens