We all have food issues in some way, shape or form. I don’t eat seafood or “freaky” meat. Melissa goes to the store almost daily to ensure the freshest ingredients for meals and will whip something up based on what “looks good that day” (yes…always needing fresh ingredients and not planning meals a week in advance is considered an “issue” in my book).
Anyway, I was talking with a friend the other day who has one child and a husband who often travels for his job. She was discussing her frustration about wasting food, specifically meat, when her husband is suddenly called out of town. I made the suggestion of just freezing meat so it won’t go bad. That’s when the conversation went to a whole new level.
She told me that she has an issue with eating meat after it’s been frozen. She knows that she eats it at other people’s houses since most have a stash of meat in their freezer. This was the easiest of her food issues to tackle, so I was up for the task. I suggested that instead of freezing the raw meat (it’s the raw part that’s the big issue), cook it up and then freeze it.
This got her attention and she became excited about the possibilities opening up to her in the kitchen. She could take out the portioned bags of cooked protein to easily use in a variety of dishes (and save a bunch of time).
- Poach and shred it. The chicken could be used on salads, tacos, soups or pasta.
- Grill or sauté it. Cut it into cubes or strips to put on salads or a stir fry.
- Cut it into small pieces and pan sauté. Use the pork in pork fried rice.
- Depending on the cut of meat, put it in a slow cooker and portion it out for carnitas!
- Grill and slice it. Put it on a steak salad or make sandwiches.
- Pan sauté and use in a stir fry.
- Any braised meat like pot roast freezes great too.
- Cook thoroughly and drain. Use the cooked meat in spaghetti sauce, tacos, or a variety of casseroles and pasta dishes.
HOW TO FREEZE MEAT TO PREVENT FREEZER BURN:
- Portion your meat in appropriate sized plastic resealable freezer bags. Make sure you push out all of the air.
- Double bag, double bag, double bag. This is the key to keeping your meat fresh longer in freezer.
- Label the outside of the bag. Although you might think you know what’s on the inside, it’s easy to get pork and chicken confused! Besides, we are not getting any younger and remembering what’s what is getting harder and harder.
I thought my task was done when I texted my friend to tell her I was writing up the “how to freeze meat post.” She comes back with “make sure you tell me how to defrost it, too”. Here it goes…
HOW TO DEFROST MEAT:
- My favorite way to defrost meat is taking it out of the freezer the night (or even 2 nights) before I want to use it and let it defrost slowly in the fridge. Put the meat in a small bowl just in case it starts to leak a bit. Of course, this method takes a bit of planning.
- If you are in a pinch to defrost meat, or you need to finish defrosting, use the microwave. Take the meat out of the plastic bags and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel. Make sure you defrost the meat on 50% power otherwise you will start cooking the meat. The amount of time depends on the amount of meat you have and whether or not it is partially defrosted already. Also, remember that every microwave cooks a bit differently. If it’s fully frozen, try 5 minutes. After that, break the meat apart or turn it over and cook it for 5 minutes longer. Use your judgement, just ALWAYS use 50% power. You are defrosting, not cooking.
Great idea to write this one up, Denise. Funny how last week I had to defrost 3 different ‘mystery’ meats I had frozen and not labeled and forgot what was what. As for the defrost, I never use the microwave (one of my many issues 😉 If I am looking for something in a hurry, I defrost in the packaging using cool water. ~ Melissa