What to Cook Right Now

Spend your Monday project cooking while enjoying takeout, or make a speedy dinner instead.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. There’s something intensely satisfying about making a big batch of Gabrielle Hamilton’s ranchero sauce (above). It’s doubly so when you do it on a weeknight, while eating takeout pizza and listening to Ethel Cain’s “Preacher’s Daughter.” The process yields many pints that you can store in the fridge or freezer and give to friends. Deploy it as a medium for poaching eggs or simmering shrimp, or as a sauce for shredded chicken tacos or enchiladas.

It lasts and lasts. You’ll be eating your May ranchero sauce in August. And you made it on a Monday night!

I accept that some may feel differently. Monday nights aren’t for project cooking, they say. Monday nights are for acknowledging that a week’s work has begun far from the kitchen, and therefore require quick cooking: a 30-minute shrimp étouffée, for instance, or a 15-minute roast salmon with brown sugar and mustard, perhaps for a trusty bowl of ramen.

I get that. But I still thrill to the feeling of knocking down a project at the top of the week: maple milk bread, maybe, or XO sauce, or chipotle chicken tamales. And I hope you’ll join me. There’s joy to be had in the labor.

If not, how about some black beans and rice, with sweet plantain fries? Or roasted vegetables with a cashew romesco? Taiwanese popcorn chicken? You could always bail entirely, make a Long Island iced tea and pretend as if Tuesday’s not coming any time soon.

And if none of those recipes suit, you can find many more ideas for what to cook this week on New York Times Cooking. (It’s a fact that you need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. Please, if you haven’t already, subscribe today. Thanks.)

Write us at cookingcare@nytimes.com if you’re having problems with the technology. Visit us on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube if you’re not. And you can always write to me at foodeditor@nytimes.com. I cannot respond to everyone. But I do read every letter sent.

Now, it’s not on the subject of viands or vinegar, but Vinson Cunningham’s New Yorker review of Mary-Louise Parker in “How I Learned to Drive” is about more than that: “hyperverbal heroes who, through considerable darkness, speak light, and life, into being.”

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Geoffrey Wolff’s 1986 novel “Providence” until I pulled it off the shelf again, funny and sad and as revealing of Rhode Island as of the human condition. (I’m not sure it’s still in print. Libraries or the internet will bring you to it.)

Nuns are on TikTok, Anna Furman reports for The Times. #conventlife

Finally, here’s Dwight Garner in The Times on “The Letters of Thom Gunn.” The book suggests that the poet was particular about his fashion. Here’s Dwight: “In the summer of 1967, the Summer of Love, a friend came across Gunn in Golden Gate Park, this book tells us in a footnote. It was very hot, and Gunn was otherwise shirtless in a chain mail vest. ‘There was his hairy chest and then hot metal burning into his skin, his flesh,’ the friend reported. ‘He was trying to look very nonchalant but he was obviously being crucified. It was horrible. But he wouldn’t take it off because it would’ve spoiled the whole look of the thing.’ ”

Always commit to the bit! I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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