Need a little comfort these days? Us too. Since the question “What did you make this weekend?” is increasingly answered by dishes qualifying as comfort food, we thought it was a good time to share some favorites and ask what soothing meals you’ve felt compelled to make—or eat—lately.
Lisa starts us off:
When it comes to comfort foods, the making is as important as the eating, at least for me. That’s why this weekend, I pulled out my Dutch oven and cooked up a batch of Braised Short Ribs, using the recipe maker. I riffed on the Tunisian-inspired variation, using red wine, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, carrots, leeks and mint. As it braised in the oven for close to 3 hours, my house was infused with savory, exotic scents. That was the first part of the comfort. The second came in the eating—meaty goodness, meltingly tender, and rich with flavor. Served atop couscous and with a fruity red wine, it was received with sighs and groans around the dinner table, reminding me that sharing that type of comfort is often the whole point of cooking.
—Lisa Waddle, managing editor
For me, carbs usually equal comfort. At the top of my list of comforting dishes is a huge plate of spaghetti with brown butter and fresh sage, topped with a veritable snowdrift of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s not good for you, but it’s savory and cheesy and filling, and nothing in the world smells better than sage leaves sizzling in hot butter. Coming in a close second for me is our recipe for Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup. My mom used to make my sister and me a very similar dish when it was cold and snowy outside. I like to add a bit more cayenne than the recipe calls for (about 1/4 tsp.); the resulting soup warms you right down to your toes.
—Denise Mickelsen, associate editor
I agree with Lisa that the making is as important as the eating—at least when I’m trying to comfort myself. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I turn to recipes that require a lot of repetitive hands-on work. This weekend, I made Simple Chocolate Truffles. The methodical rolling of forty-some balls of ganache, then dipping each of them in melted chocolate, puts me in a sort of meditative trance, and I swear lowers my blood pressure. One more reason chocolate is healthy!
—Sarah Breckenridge, Web producer
|Tunisian Braised Short Ribs||Cheddar and Cauliflour Soup||Simple Chocolate Truffles|
For me, anything served with buttery mashed potatoes qualifies as comfort food. Or, better yet, mashed potatoes and celery root.
—Enid Johnson, senior copy/production editor
|Rustic Mashed Potatoes||Garlic Mashed Potatoes||Potato & Celery Root Purée|
Nothing says comfy family time to me more that a plate of my mom’s picadillo (mom’s is similar to FC‘s Beef Picadillo), with fluffy white rice and platanos maduros, or fried plantains. It brings back memories of being back at my parents’ house in Queens. You could smell the picadillo from anywhere in the house, which always made me feel safe because I knew my folks were around. Now that my parents live far away, whenever I miss them, I make some picadillo and it takes me right back to that little blue house in Queens.
—Juli Roberts, editorial assistant
This might sound trite, but chicken soup (with acini di pepe pasta) is my go-to comfort food. My mom always had a pot on whenever we were sick or feeling down. Once, while in Italy, I got pretty sick and all I wanted was some good chicken soup, but instead was offered a plate of white rice. Totally not the same.
—Melissa Pellegrino, assistant food editor
I’m with you, Melissa—but for me, it’s matzo ball soup. Recently, I came home from a long day at work, and found a pot of it bubbling on my stove—my mom had come over to my house late that afternoon, whipped some up, and left it waiting for me. What a treat.
—Rebecca Freedman, senior editor
Appears our comfort foods point back to the women who cooked for us, which makes total sense. Comfort food to me means my Auntie Mary’s shepherd’s pie, her homemade oatmeal, her French breakfast puffs (which I’m proud to say look exactly like The Pioneer Woman’s). Forget eating ice cream out of the box; I want to be back in my aunt’s kitchen. There wasn’t a problem that couldn’t be solved in the time it took to peel ten potatoes or gather our ingredients (or so it seemed). And, for sure, there are no problems good ol’ macaronni & cheese can’t solve—or at least cause you to temporarily forget.
—Robyn Aitken, Web producer
|Beef Picadillo||Matzo Ball Soup||Baked Macaroni & Cheese|
If you’ve got a favorite comfort food that never lets you down, leave a comment and tell us about it.
It's not mom's Beef Picadillo, but it's close.