Monday, April 07, 2008

Inexpensive meals

Yes, with gas prices soaring, housing issues, food prices going up monthly, we all could use a little bit of extra help in the kitchen. The best way to economize in the kitchen is to plan meals that use like ingredients. One of my favorites is to use a brisket. I can usually pick up a brisket for about $20. I'll use it to make at least four meals, possibly five. And each one is different enough that we don't feel like we're eating left overs.

First up: Slow roasted brisket. Cut away lot of the fat, not all of it because that's what help add flavor and tenderness to the brisket. I usually will use my Jaccard to help poke some holes in the brisket and then add some liquid smoke. Add a bit of salt, pepper and garlic and you're set. Cover it with foil, sealing around the edges of the pan and put it in the oven at 300 degrees (F) for at least four hours. That's how it gets nice and tender. You slowly cook it for hours and then it melts in your mouth. I do not sear it prior to putting it in the oven.

Slice off enough for a few sandwiches, add some barbeque sauce and a salad and you've got a great BBQ dinner.

Second: Slice off a few slices and then cut the slices into strips. Set aside. Cut a bell pepper into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with a half of an onion. (remember, if you have a large family, you'll need more). In a skillet melt two pats of butter and some garlic when the butter is melted add the onions and bell pepper and saute until soft. Remove from pan. Add the meat to the pan and heat up. You can add a bit of water to the pan if it begins to stick. When the meat is hot, add the onions and bell pepper back to the pan. Shred up some cheese, heat a tortilla or two and you've got fajitas.

Third: Slice off a piece of the brisket about two inches thick. Cube it into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to a pan with a bit of beef broth or water. Let simmer slowly bringing it to a boil. Add some bisto and thicken it to make a gravy. (What's Bisto? My favorite thickening agent for beef. Google it and buy it online if your favorite store doesn't carry it. I know Target sells it online.) Serve it over steamed rice, heat up some brocoli, and a salad and you've got your third dinner from the brisket.

Another way we use left over brisket it is to cube it and add to eggs; scramble it up and serve it for breakfast.

Fourth/fifth: You can also make your own philly beef sandwiches - California style - for a meal.

Six:Stir fry some vegeatbles, add in soy sauce and any beef left over in thin slices, with some noodles and you've got a quick stir fried dinner.

I hope you get my point. Some salad fixings, a brisket, eggs and some fresh vegetables, and some cheese should get you through the week pretty cheaply and still feed your family well. Keeping your pantry stocked should help you get the job done, quickly and easily during a hectic work week. Each of these dinners (other than the original) takes no longer than thirty minutes to put together.