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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ways to stretch meat

I don't claim to be a expert on this subject, I just know what works for me!  I often buy ground turkey instead of hamburger unless its on sale.   If I am making a casserole or one pot meal like spaghetti, I try to use 1 pound versus 2 pounds of meat.  Tonight for instance I am making "Grandpa's Spanish rice" and I browned hamburger with some onion, and grated carrot.  I added a can of corn that was drained as well, because canned corn tastes better if you let it caramelize a bit with the other vegetables and meat.  I also stretch my Rice mixes, by adding a handful of broken spaghetti noodles.  My goal is to make dinner for my family and have enough leftover for a couple of lunches.  My hubby is not big on leftovers.

I also add beef broth to ground turkey sometimes to make it taste beefier.   If I am using chicken breasts, I try to serve 1/2 a breast to each adult with enough sides to fill in the cracks.  If you use meat sparingly, for texture and flavor you can use less.  I know other people add beans to their meals, but I have a hard time digesting beans.  I occasionally add a can of chili to taco meat, or to my Spanish rice.   I have used potatoes that were cubed and fried in taco's with meat.

So these are some of my tips or tricks:
Meat as an ingredient, not the main feature. Instead of serving a chicken breast with veggies and rice, why not make fried rice, stir fry or a curry? I generally use 2-3 chicken breasts in these dishes, we get plenty of meat but use half of what we would if the chicken was the main feature.  Another bonus is that you can make fried rice and stir fry in one pot, bonus!!
 Buy cheap cuts and use them wisely. Stir fry and fried rice are excellent ways to use cheap cuts of beef, but so is stew and curry. I love cutting cheap cuts of skirt or flank steak against the grain, brown them in oil and spices, and serve them in a tortilla with onions and peppers.                                                                 
Use meat in casseroles. You can use more vegetables, pasta or rice and only half the meat.

Substitute other meats. Sometimes ground turkey is cheaper, I can still find it frozen for $1/lb. No, it doesn’t taste quite the same but generally we find it an acceptable alternative. If you don’t like the taste you can try using ½ lb beef and ½ lb turkey, or ground chicken or pork.  You can add chicken or beef broth or stock for added flavor, and don't be afraid to use other spices!

Leftover meat?  What can you do with it?
Leftover roast beef or steak can become a“planned over” beef quesadillas

Convert the flavors of roasted beef to Asian beef stir-fry flavored with 
fresh ginger, julienne bell
peppers, scallions with orange zest and segments
Transform leftover cooked roast beef into creamy beef stroganoff with 
mushrooms and served over egg noodles.
Utilize leftover hamburgers by crumbling the cooked patties 
into spaghetti and lasagna sauces.
Disguise Sunday’s leftover roast beef in colorful fajitas for a quick 
evening supper. Sprinkle fajita seasonings on sliced onions and
 peppers. Saute the vegetables until tender, then add thinly sliced 
cooked roast beef to the vegetables and heat until warm.

Prepare Asian lettuce wraps with leftover cooked 
pork loin or roast.
Offer enchiladas with second-night cooked pork mixed
 with salsa, cilantro and Jack cheese.
Transform leftover pork chops into a quick entree of 
pork fried rice with the addition of cooked rice,
ginger, scallions, vegetables and eggs.
Invent a new version of the grilled Monte Cristo sandwich 
by tucking thin slices of cooked pork
with Swiss cheese between bread slices.
Enhance a package or homemade potato soup with 
the addition of cooked pork cubes.

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