Tuesday, March 09, 2010

No-frills FAST meat!

Last night as I was getting ready to brown close to 6 lbs. of ground beef and 4 cups of chopped onion I realized my stoneware bar pan would overflow with grease when it started cooking down.  So I took out a little more than a quarter of it and put it in my round stoneware pan.  The plan was to alternate the two pans between the racks in the oven.

But then I had a lightbulb moment.  No not that kind of lightbulb moment.  An AHA! moment.

I put that round stoneware pan (I think it's called the Deep Dish Baker) in the microwave with three coffee filters on top to prevent splattered microwave carnage, and nuked it about 5 minutes. 

When both pans were done, I just kept thinking, why have I NEVER done this before?!  Holy moly that saves time! Hurray I have my Works-For-Me-Wednesday post!

A long time ago, when baby number 4 was in utero, I posted about how I cook large quantities of meat at a time.   Feel free to read it.

I'm going to hit on the main points here and if you have questions, just leave a comment.

Why cook a lot at once?  Isn't that a pain?

1.  Usually, you can buy meat at a better rate per pound when you buy large packages. 

2.  After cooking up a 3-10 lbs. or so at a time and dividing into approximately 3/4 lb. baggies, you will have your meat ready when you need it.  This makes dinnertime so much easier having skipped the step of browning the meat (and we add onion) and washing the skillet, spoon, and collander.  And your hair doesn't smell like hamburger grease that night.

3.  Cooking a lot at once means sticking it all in a pan with edges and in the oven or now I know, the microwave-- if it's microwave safe of course. 

4.  It's hardly any extra work than cooking a single pound.

What kind of pans work for this?

Bar pans (cookie sheet with edges), 9 x 13 pans, loaf pans, muffin pans, mini-loaf pan, circle, ovan, square casserole dishes. 

1.  Glass are more likely to burn.

2.  Metal and non-stick pans work great in the oven.

3.  Stoneware is my personal favorite because it helps it season the stoneware as it cooks and it's also microwave safe. 

Use a pan with edges.  You do not want the grease that comes from cooking down meat to flow off the edges and all over your oven.  or microwave.  So, use a pan with edges. 

My totally organized, artsy, and  frugal coupon-queen sister, Leslie, told me about a woman she knows who couldn't stand the smell of meat cooking when she was pregnant.  Sound familiar?  This woman was able to benefit from the loving efforts of her hubby.  He went to his mom's house, cooked it all up, divided it, and brought it home to freeze.  How freaking awesome is that?!

What kind of meats are you planning on cooking in the microwave?

Ground beef and ground sausage (Jimmy Dean) come to mind.  I'm still thinking I'll use the oven for mass cooking chicken.  And I am not a fan of microwaved bacon.  So I'll stick to cooking that in the oven chopped up in the bar pan and saving the grease of course. 

This post is also linked at Tuesday Tips and Tuesday's Tip Jar.


Dakrat said...

You forgot to mention how much money this saves too. Running the microwave for five minutes is WAY cheaper than running the oven (electric or gas) for an hour.

Leslie said...

That's one awesome tip! I can't tell you how much hassle (not to mention time washing dishes after cooking meat) this has saved me. I am so much more prepared at dinner time these days because of your tip. And now - this makes meat prep even more awesome!

p.s. thanks for the wonderful compliments - I don't deserve them but I'll pretend I do to bloggy land.

The Saved Quarter said...

I've had good luck with boiling ground beef for future meals. It comes out with the fat already rinsed off, which is handy, but doesn't get any of the flavor of cooking with onions and garlic on the stove in my cast iron skillet, my favorite way to prepare ground beef. Just another option for the big batches!

Ally said...

I do this too! I buy about 6-7 pounds at a time and then separate it into 10 individual loaves. When I recipe calls for a pound, I add a loaf. Nobody ever notices :)

Nikki said...

The Saved Quarter- I haven't tried the boiling method yet. My aunt used to do that (she's since passed away).

I did just barely read about cooking it in a big pan and then pouring off the fat to preserve some of the flavor the fat brings.

Half Assed Housewife said...

I like to season a couple of the pounds with taco seasoning, so you have a couple of meals ready to go.

I also like to cook large amounts of chicken in the crockpot. Just put the chicken pieces in with no seasoning or liquid and cook on low for about 6-8 hours. Shred the chicken and freeze in meal size packages. Take the juices and bones and throw in some more water and veggies and make a rich chicken stock in the crockpot the next day.

Laurie/Mom/Grandma said...

Great idea - but for an empty nest like ours, it would take MONTHS to eat that much hamburger!

Nikki said...

HAH- Great tips! I'm going to try that with my chicken next. I love how tender the crockpot cooks meat.

Laurie- But you wouldn't have to think about meat for a looong time. lol

Johnlyn ~ said...

I wrote about this recently. However, I was whining about using the oven and what a pain it was.

I love boiling it on the stove though. I think it's because I have the right pot to use, but the pan I used in the oven didn't work out so well.

You are right - having prepared meat makes a huge difference in putting together a meal quickly. I wish I would have known about this when I worked outside the home. What a time saver!

Nikki said...

Johnlyn- Thanks for your comment and ideas. I just hopped over to your blog and I'm in heaven! I LOVE all your tips.

Debbie said...

Hey! Dropping by from WFMW. Great tip! I'll be following now :)

PS your kids are too cute!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

I never thought to cook up some beef with onion in it. That is pretty basic enough to use in lots of recipes. I do always batch cook taco meat and freeze bags of those.

Right now my Save-A-Lot has 5 pounds chubs of ground beef on special for $3.50.

Thanks for the super tip!

Jenny said...

Very nifty post :D

Michelle said...

I'm not sure about the microwave...I've heard bad things about it. I spoiling your post...sorry, didnt mean to. I think I'm going to do a science experiment...make that, the kids, wink see what happens when plants get watered with microwaved water and regular water.

anyway....all that to say...what a beautiful family you have!!! We have six too.

The Owens said...

I didn't see if someone else said this but pampered chef also sells a steamer - it's black and plastic - it has a lid with holes in the top for draining. I do all of my meat in that in the microwave - avoids splatter - cooks evenly - for about 2 lbs of meat it will take about 6-8 minutes (longer if frozen which is how I usually do it). Then you can drain the grease by just turning it over. It's awesome and I can not remember the last time I cooked meat in a pan :)

Nikki said...

Michelle- Do you mean you'd compare boiled water from the microwave and boiled water from the stove? I would be curious to see how that turns out. Do you not use a microwave in your home? I don't know how I'd live without one.

The Owens- I used to have one of those a long time ago. Maybe I'll order one again. Thanks for the reminder!

Angela said...

I think it's a great idea to do that. I'll have to tell my BFF about what you do with your meat. I think she picks hers up in bulk and just sections it off before she throws it into the freezer. I like the cooking it up part, especially if you know ahead of time what you are going to use your meat for.


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