5 Comforting Dinners to Make This Fall

When the temperatures begin to drop our response is often instinctual — just like other animals, all we want to do is burrow into a warm nest, and spend several months sleeping, and living off food that we’ve already gathered. While jobs, children, and other social obligations make this enticing prospect more of a fantasy than a reality, we can still ensure that our fall season is cozier than ever by whipping up a series of hearty and delicious dinners that take advantage of the last days of seasonal produce.

Making comforting meals is a great fall activity — it helps keep us busy in the evenings as the days get longer, and ensures we’ve got a belly full of warm, nourishing food before we turn in for the night. Here are some of the most comforting dinners that you can make this fall.

1. Chicken Pot Pie

If you’re interested in a meal that’s a hearty combination of succulent meat, flavorful gravy, and rich pastry, then chicken pot pie is definitely the best option for you. Chicken pot pie is essentially a rich chicken stew that’s ladled into a pastry-lined ramekin or baking dish. Then, another sheet of either pastry or biscuit dough is pressed on top, and the entire thing is baked until the pastry is golden brown on the top, and the liquid inside is bubbling.

To make this dish, you’ll first need to choose whether you favor a pie crust, or whether biscuit dough is more your style. Either way, the dough should be quick to make from scratch, or you can go the easy route and use a store-bought pie crust.

Chicken pot pie starts with a roux, which is used to thicken stock, to which aromatics like celery, carrot, and onion are added. The most traditional chicken pot pie has plenty of pre-cooked chicken, along with peas, carrots, and sometimes red or pimento peppers. These ingredients are stirred into the thickened stock, then the liquid mixture is poured into the crust and sealed with dough. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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2. Chili

Another hearty dish that’s perfect for fall is chili. There are tons of different options, and depending on your location or nationality, you may have a preference towards one or the other. Whether your favored recipe is the meat-and-pepper chili of Texas, or the chile verde of New Mexico, there’s truly a chili out there for everyone.

Most recipes start with the central ingredient, which is usually either cubed pork, ground beef, or beans. Brown the meat, if you’re using that, and ensure no pink or raw spots remain. Then, most recipes will have you introduce the various other ingredients in stages — beans first, if you’re using them, then other vegetables, to ensure they’re cooked before the introduction of the liquid. Spices get added before the liquid, then everything is left to simmer. Once the chili is cooked through and is flavored to your liking, you can serve it in a variety of ways. It makes a great meal all on its own, or you can serve cornbread on the side. Serve it over rice, or even over spaghetti, which is traditional for Cincinnati chili.

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