Buying large quantities of food to feed my hungry family has formed a lifetime habit that is hard to break. Menu planning for me always revolved around spotting a good buy on fresh meats, produce and general groceries.
Some thought has to go into shopping for food if you want to get the most value for your dollars. Because taste buds need to be energized with different flavors to make a meal enticing and palatable, it’s important to know how to use the same cut of meat, fish or poultry and prepare it differently so it doesn’t appear to be the same dish resulting in less waste.
For the next time you wonder what you’re going to do with this large irresistible bargain sitting in your shopping cart, take a few minutes to do some recipe searching as I did and the ideas will flow.
The following recipes were created one day when I ambitiously bought a meaty 3 pound London broil at a price I couldn’t pass up. A recipe for each pound of cooked meat was thought out and in place with an extra back-up recipe. With a plan in place and cooking time constraints, I fetched for my friendly slow-cooker.
Meal #1 Steak Pizzaiola
Pizzaiola is a Neapolitan dish of beef slowly cooked with tomatoes garlic, oregano, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Cooking a less tender chunk of meat using this slow-cooking method breaks up the connective tissues producing a meat that’s fork tender. Pizzaiola is a strong flavor booster for long pasta such as spaghetti or fusilli, chunky mashed potatoes or soft polenta. Have chunks of Italian bread handy to mop up the beefy tomato broth. The Steak Pizzaiola was cooked without vegetables. For variety add vegetables such as garlic, onions, mushrooms, potatoes and peppers.
After cutting the lean top round into 3 sections, approximately 1 pound each, then rinsing briefly under cold water; patting it dry, the next step was to place the 3 pieces in a slow-cooker.
Pour a 28-ounce can of Italian crushed tomatoes over the meat with 3 cloves of minced fresh garlic, ½ cup of wine (substitute broth or water) 4-5 fresh basil leaves, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and give it a quick stir. Remember not to fill your crock pot higher than three-quarters full or it will boil over.
Securely place the cover on the slow-cooker and set it on Low for 8 hours. When I returned home from work the house smelled amazing and my friendly slow-cooker had dinner ready for me.
Lifting the lid revealed this bubbling deep red tomato sauce. The meat was so fork tender it began to separate and shred with the slightest poke from a fork.
Remove the meat into a large rimmed pan and shred it with 2 forks, keeping it as proportioned as possible. Then divide it into serving portions (usually 4 to 6-ounces per person) and store the portions in a tightly fitted container. Cooked meat and sauce can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen up to a month for the best quality.
A hearty dinner was one serving (1/2 to 3/4 cup) of cooked spaghetti sitting in a puddle of this flavorful beefy tomato sauce, with 1/2 cup of shredded meat, lots of grated Parmigiana cheese and freshly torn basil. Such a welcoming comfort of mouth-watering feel-good for a weeknight meal!
Meal #2 Vegetable Beef Soup
A good homemade beef soup is seemingly hard to create at home. This beef soup has such a robust flavorful broth you will want to make it this way over again.
Measure out 3 cups of Pizzaiola sauce, 2 cups (1 pound) of shredded beef, 3 cups of low-salt chicken or beef broth, 1 small onion chopped, 2 medium potatoes cut in half and then cut across into 4 sections, 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced, 1 cup of fresh cut or frozen green beans.
Place the Pizzaiola sauce into a soup pot that will hold approximately 8 cups. Add the broth, onions, potatoes, carrots, and green beans bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cook until vegetables are tender; about 20 minutes depending on the cut-size of vegetables. Add the shredded beef and heat thoroughly for 10 minutes. Serve topped with some fresh chopped parsley. A Romaine lettuce salad with olive oil and salt will flatter this hearty soup.
Meal #3 Texas-Style Beef Chili
Chili is one of those good for the soul foods prepared with modest ingredients that explode when seasoned with a blast of spice.
Measure the beef, about 1 pound (1 section of the London broil) and keep refrigerated until ready to use. In a large heavy pot cook 2 slices of cut up bacon until crisp. Place on a paper towel, then crumble. Discard fat and brown 1 chorizo sausage (any type sausage will do), skin removed and cut into dice; set aside with the bacon.
Next cut into dice: 1 medium onion, 1 medium green pepper, 2 cloves garlic. Add the beef, bacon, and sausage to the vegetables, stirring to blend. Pour in 1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes, with juice, 1-1/2 cups of chicken or beef broth, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 can kidney or black beans, rinsed (optional), salt and pepper. If too dry, add a little more broth. Simmer for about 20 minutes until thickened and serve topped with sliced avocado, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese or serve up over hot cooked rice.
#4 Sloppy Joes
Kids of all ages love to get sloppy while eating these sandwiches. Could it be the sweet and fairly sour sauce or just that they’re eaten on a hamburger bun that makes them so kid-friendly? This recipe uses the beef alone without the broth.
1-1/4 pound, (2-1/4 cups) of cooked shredded meat, chopped into smaller shreds in food processor, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 carrot peeled and minced, 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 celery stalk chopped, 1/2 cup, 2 cloves garlic, minced, salt.
Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the carrots and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the onion and celery. Cook and stir until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and lastly the shredded beef. Stir all together.
Next add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 cups of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, pinch ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, pinch cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir to mix flavors. Serve on 4 toasted hamburger buns.
Problem of buying in bulk solved! These recipes can be flipped over for slow-cooking pork shoulder, chicken or other less expensive cuts of beef such as flank steak or chuck roast.
Buon Appetito! From Amelia’s Kitchen