Friday, October 16, 2015

Expanding the Pantry Menu: Saving Freezer Burnt Meat

I've never really tried to save freezer burnt meat per se; it usually just got cooked and anyone who wanted to complain went hungry. (That's from the days when ramen was a daily meal for us.)

Gearing up for our move to Arizona, we put a ban on eating out and started working our way through our freezer. Hiding in the back was a package of pork loins that I know has been in there since I moved in with DR back in September 2013... how long before that, I have no idea. Two of the pieces showed very clear marks of freezer burn.

I can't stand throwing out food, but those two pieces I seriously considered throwing away. I can't stand pork outside of bacon and sausage -- it's always tasted bland to me and I like red meat much better. However, these needed to be used up. The question was, "How?"

So I sat, crocheting and pondering. Crocheting keeps the hands busy but not the mind, and something finally popped up in my head that was from an older "How To Be a Good Housewife" book I had read for snorts and guffaws several years ago. Every old hand in a kitchen has her tricks and techniques, and this book had been written back when freezer burned meat was only just starting to become a concern. The recipe recommended a soak in seasonings and vinegar for about a day or two, and then popping the meat into a crock pot for a slow cook.

Well, why not try it? All the pieces still had some decent looking fat on them, so I soaked them for a day in a marinade of garlic, sage, thyme, dried & ground limes (1-2 tsp each) in 1.5 tbsp of red wine vinegar.

The next day I laid three pork loins out on the bottom of a crock pot put a can of beans and tomatoes in the middle, then put the last three on top. I didn't drain the cans, but instead used them for the liquid I would need in the crock pot -- which also cut down on the amount of salt I needed to add later.

I cooked the meat on high for about two hours, before turning it down to low heat for 24 hours and then I'm back to plotting doom and destruction via yarn while dealing with the fact the house smells great!

When it comes time to eat, I boiled up a cup of rice to supplement the meal. The beans and tomatoes went on top of that.

So the major questions are:
  • Did it work? Yes.
  • Did it taste good? Yes.
  • Did it keep food from going to waste? Sadly, no. It ended up being enough for four or five people and for them to have seconds, so some of it did go to waste.

In the time I started writing this piece, we've since moved to Arizona and been here almost two weeks. It's great here! While we didn't have to throw away a lot of food, we did hand a large chunk of the freezer off to our neighbors rather than let it go to waste. 

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