Microwave meals get too much credit for delivering comfort food happiness in no time at all. (Know what I mean, box of mac and cheese that’s ready in 6 minutes?) Truth is, you don’t have to resort to sad boxes of over-salted highly-processed food to get your fix of foods that make you swoon. These six comfort food favorites are ready in 30 minutes or less. “How?!” you ask. Simple. We tasked our Test Kitchen with creating genius time-saving shortcuts that delivered all the flavor in fewer minutes. Here, their magical results:
30-Minute Filet Bourguignonne with Mashed Potatoes: The trick that speeds this dish to real bourguignonne flavor in record time comes from Test Kitchen staffer Deb Wise: “I ‘sacrifice’ some of the beef, mincing it and cooking it into the sauce. It melts into the dish and adds so much meaty flavor.”
Fast Shepherd’s Pie: Senior Food Editor Julianna Grimes advises, “Buy lamb loin chops, and have the butcher remove the meat from the bones in the store.” The lean, tender meat cooks quickly, and it’ll stay moist in this speedy take on a comfort classic.
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart with Gruyère: “The trouble with tarts is the time the dough usually requires between chilling it and rolling it out,” says Sidney Fry, assistant editor. Here she skips the fridge and presses the crumbly mixture directly into the pan, yielding one of the best pastries we’ve produced. Other shortcuts: prechopped squash, presliced mushrooms, and diced pancetta.
New England Clam Chowder: Senior Food Editor Tim Cebula says there’s no sub for fresh clams in chowder. “But bottled clam juice and prediced potatoes save time.”
Rich Chicken Soup with Fresh Noodles: This soup tastes like it was on Grandma’s stove for hours. Test Kitchen staffer Adam Hickman’s secret weapon: “Salty miso enriches the broth.”
Cassoulet in a Flash: Cassoulet is a dish that can take days to make, but we get much of the same goodness in this half-hour version. “Duck breast, duck sausage, and bacon provide the rich, meaty core of cassoulet flavor in little more time than it takes to heat up a can of beans,” says Test Kitchen staffer Robin Bashinsky. It’s worth seeking out the best quality meats you can find (we ordered D’Artagnan sausage from dartagnan.com): It elevates the canned beans for maximum wow.