Better Than Taco Tuesday

CookDC meal kits take DIY dinners to the next level.

CookDC’s pappardelle with morels

A few years ago, Matt McCormack, a self-taught cook and an investment banker, received a Blue Apron meal kit and decided he could improve upon it. That’s when McCormack launched CookDC, a meal-kit service with the tagline, “Turning home cooks into chefs.” Licensed as a caterer, he now leases kitchen space in Shirlington.

“We call ourselves the French Laundry of meal kits,” he says, referring to the famed, three-Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant, “because we focus on flavor.”

In the kits, plastic sleeves of ingredients are separated and rolled up in an insulated tote the size of a lunch box. Each sleeve contains the ingredients you need for one cooking step, and there are usually five or six steps per meal. McCormack claims that most meals take 30 minutes to prepare, but our test run took closer to an hour. The quality is high and the instructions are clear, although these kits aren’t made for novices. A bit of culinary intuition is required, say, to know when something requires more than the allotted cooking time to reach the desired consistency.

Still, McCormack does most of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. He brines or sous-vides his proteins for extra tenderness, and his kits often include homemade stocks, glazes and compound butters. One recent meal featured pan-roasted Duroc pork chops with apples, Brussels sprouts with lardons and a sweet-potato purée with maple butter. Another included seared sea scallops with preserved lemon butter and sea beans, served on a bed of lentils with sautéed escarole. McCormack aims for restaurant quality and he nails it.

CookDC offers same-day preparation with free delivery, Tuesday through Friday, with menus posted one week at a time. Most kits average $32 and feed two generously, with add-on pricing for extra proteins or additional full servings. www.cookdc.com


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