Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Eat Groceries - More Meat: Here's the Beef

I had a good chuckle this week as I noted the local sales paper offers up shoulder roast this week as the roast bargain...and the photo indeed is the same as the one show last week for sirloin tip roast!  Just as predicted there's another disappointment coming for anyone unfamiliar with roasts who walks into the store looking for that lovely rolled roast.

Ah well.  Live and learn and let's just cook the thing and eat it!

Roasts may look pricey on the surface but I've found them to be very economical.  A nice four pound roast can easily make up four nice meals if not five or six.  It depends upon the cut and upon how you choose to use it.  So let's get down to how to use it, shall we?

There's an original Lil Rascals production that revolves around a family crisis.  Mother serves roast every Sunday and Hash every Monday.  Father is so upset over this arrangement of meals that the two begin to talk about divorce!  The Gang gets involved and it's settled by an older and wiser party how to use up the Sunday roast in a way that suits Father far better and restores Mother's economy all at once.

This little movie actually was to the point.  Laundry day was laundry day in most homes and with laundry being such a huge production back then, it was absolutely necessary to have an easy on the laundress/cook meal at day's end.  Hash suited perfectly and that indeed was the meal many a household ate on Monday.

I baked a roast this past weekend and unlike the old days I didn't divide it up for two or three meals.  Instead I simply sliced it super thin for sandwich meats.  But for the sake of this post, let's just back up and pretend for a moment that we're back at day one of the Rump Roast.  Meal #1:  Roast beef dinner with all the fixings.  Having long since learned that my family would eat every mouthful of a roast if it was in sight, I would have cut two nice pieces for each plate and immediately put away the remaining roast.

Meal #2:  Some type of hot roast beef sandwich.  Philly cheesesteak sandwich is just as good with thin slices of roast beef as with steak.  Hot Roast beef and gravy over toast makes a nice hot sandwich as well.  Since the cheesesteak would also be topped with onions and peppers and provolone cheese, not so much meat is needed to make up a sandwich.  I used Hoagie buns and a full sandwich is plenty for any adult or teen.  Younger children might easily half a sandwich. 

Meal #3:  Red, Black and Blue salad perhaps (roast beef, tomatoes and blue cheese over lettuce), or maybe a little Stroganoff (cooked onions and mushrooms and thin slices of roast beef in sour cream gravy, served over rice).   A stir fried vegetable dish with slivers of beef tossed in would be good as well and the vegetables would nicely stretch the meat to serve four. 

Meal #4: Likely at this point there are odd pieces of meat, too thin to slice nicely, too thick to be suitable fro anything much.  Dice the meat very fine and add that plus any juices from the roast into a soup pot and make vegetable beef soup.

If your roast cost $9, you have just made up four hearty meals for a family of four without batting an eye.  And the average cost of each meal is going to be around $2.25 or about $.60 per serving.  More than likely the pot of soup will do for two meals.

But just suppose you bought a chuck roast or sirloin tip?  These cuts require long slow cooking.  Meal #1 would be a pot roast dinner, but reserve any leftover vegetables and broth along with the meat.  I'd suggest you try to buy at least a three pound roast for a family of four.  Especially if you're buying chuck roast be careful to note how much fat is marbled into the meat.  You don't want a roast that is very fatty.  With a sirloin tip there should be little fat if any at all visible.

So you've had meal number one (pot roast) and likely you'll use half the roast for this meal.  The meat shrinks a bit in cooking, it's more difficult to slice, etc., so meal one will use a larger proportion of the roast.  Divide any remaining meat into two portions.  One portion may be mixed with leftover cooked carrots and onions and wrapped in corn tortillas and Enchilada sauce poured over top.  Top with some shredded Pepper Jack or Cheddar and bake until hot and bubbly.  Serve with yellow rice and refried beans (and if the meat is scant, add the refried beans right into the tortilla with the meat!).

The third portion of the roast, along with all broth will make a nice Roast Beef Hash.  Start with a cup of diced raw potatoes for every person you'll be serving.  Add in one large finely diced onion and cook in a little oil a few minutes over medium heat in a covered pan.  Now add in the broth, finely diced roast and salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until the broth is nearly all absorbed, the potatoes are soft and tender.  I've made this dish with leftover gravy, have added in a box of frozen peas or tossed in mushrooms just to stretch it a bit more.  I usually served with a big salad and a pan of hot biscuits.  My family loved hash and it was a very satisfying meal.

A couple of alternative meals from the leftover roast and broth or gravy are Shepherd's Pie or Beef Pot Pie.  Both are very hearty meals.  I admit a fondness for Shepherd's Pie but given a choice my family always wanted Hash instead.  Beef Pot Pie may be made much the way you prepare a chicken pot pie.  I like to use a variety of vegetables (carrot, potato, peas, onions, green beans).  

Now these are just a few examples of roast meals I make and only two or three of the cuts of beef available as roasts.  Gracious, don't limit yourself by anything except price.  The point isn't what cut of beef you choose but in how well you use the resource once it's in your kitchen.  Learn to make what is leftover look like a whole new meal and your family will never feel they are getting second best on these nights.
Now here again, you've likely paid about $8 for the roast


DarcyLee said...

These are really excellent ideas for using a beef roast that I normally think of as too expensive to buy. I will be looking out for some roasts in the future. This week I'm doing this same thing with chicken. Oh, by the way, I found you through Rhonda's blog at If you do stuff, stuff gets done. Love your blog and this is the only post I've read so far!

Kay said...

**applause** Bravo My Dear! Wonderful post that will be a huge help to many ladies, looking to economize. (including me!) I've not made hash before, but I think this is one "combined dish" my Farmer would eat. Again, Bravo! PS Hope your dh is feeling better. hugs!