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What is it about fall that has us wanting to stock up on canned goods? We’re like little squirrels — only instead of nuts, we’re after canned food. It’s soup season, after all! It’s also bean season! And what else? Well, we asked chefs and pro cooks from all around the country to share the canned goods they’re buying for their own pantries.
Here are the seven sweet and savory canned goods they reach for on the regular now that fall is in full swing. Take a look and then consider copying this list for your next shopping trip.
“I always keep several cans of all different kinds of whole beans in the pantry. Brand isn’t so important here, whatever meets your dietary preferences — low-sodium, organic, BPA-free, it’s all good. I have one chili recipe on repeat as a base and then I mix up the veggies and beans. Going for more of a Western chili? Use canned pinto, maybe some carrots. White chili? Cannellini and some kale. Mixing beans is also fun and looks pretty — I like to mix black and kidney or black and cannellini for a striking, more formal chili (mostly kidding). Go bean wild!” — Liz Solomon Dwyer, chef and founder, King David Tacos, New York City
“I always add canned coconut milk to the lentil soups and other soups I make in the fall. I also use it in the chicken curry I make for my kids. It adds richness without adding dairy.” — Ellen King, chef, Hewn, Evanston, Illinois
“I boil condensed milk for four hours in a stock pot until all of the sugars in the milk caramelize and create the perfect dulce de leche. I also like to thin it out and use it as a caramel sauce for my bread pudding and sometimes I add flake salt or winter spices to make it a salted caramel sauce.” — Steven Goff, executive chef, Jargon, Asheville, North Carolina
“I constantly load up on canned water chestnuts in the fall. They’re the secret weapon in my dips and, for me, fall is dip season! Dips make the perfect contribution to a family party or luau. Some of my favorite recipes are mayonnaise- and sour cream-based vegetable dips with hints of maple syrup and lots of onion and garlic. I add diced water chestnuts to all of them for texture and fresh crispness.” — Kiki Aranita, resident chef, Volver, Philadelphia
“Anchovies are the secret ingredient I always grab, especially during the colder months. Adding a few anchovy filets to your pot roast cooking liquid, or most braises for that matter, adds a depth of flavor that enhances the savory flavor of the dish.” — Sara Hauman, Top Chef season 18 contestant