Friday, March 11, 2011

Foodie Friday: Large Roast. Many Meals.

I must start with saying how much of a blessing everyone has been so far. Starting this blog has been a journey for me, and I want to thank this amazing community of friends for your support.

Now, on to Foodie Friday... 

Just as in my post The Whole Chicken, I've really started taking another look at larger cuts of meat (larger than you will eat in one meal), whether pork or beef (or turkey). Often, these roasts are on sale for great prices, especially around holidays.

In the past, I have avoided buying these roasts because I knew there was NO way my little family would eat all that food. We can only have roast beef so many days in a row before it gets mundane. Enter freezer cooking. No, the freezer is not cooking anything (I can hear my family's jokes now). It is cooking to freeze and use later. My husband is not a fan of leftovers but this method is not actually leftovers. It's like re-purposing food, and (if you can't tell) I love to re-purpose stuff!

Make 1 roast. Serve 4 different meals. So easy!

For example, I'll buy an 8-pound pork loin roast and get at least 4 meals out of it... and the meals won't all be consumed in the same week, thankfully. When my boys get to be teenagers, they'll probably eat all of it by themselves. However, this is where I am today. Back to the topic... I found a great rub and recipe for the roast, using fresh rosemary. There is such a huge difference between fresh and dried rosemary. I must say "thank you" to my mom for letting me have her rosemary bush! The recipe does say you can use dried, so I might suggest lightly crushing the dried rosemary — so it's not so tough.

Note: This is also a great way to portion-control your meals — for dietary or monetary reasons.

 This roast is only 2.5 LBS, but I am using this as an example. No 8LB'er roasts on sale this week, ugh! Just the small ones. For the sake of this post, these are fairly small portions.

Pictured above, I have cut the roast into three different meals.

Now, the roast is packaged and ready to serve or freeze. Meal #1 (top, left) can be put in oven to keep warm until dinnertime. Meals #2 (bottom) and #3 (top, right) are ready to be frozen. I have labeled each packet with the date roasted and the next meal.

Meal #1 (to be eaten day of): Carve off 1/3 inch slices for each person and make gravy.

Also prep the meat for meals 2,3, and 4 (not pictured). Freeze in separate foil pouches and store pouches in sealed freezer bag or container. There should be 3 pouches all together. For me, it works best to label in which meal they will be use, along with today's date.

Meal #2: BBQ sandwiches. Day before, put foil pouch in refrigerator to start defrosting. On morning of, empty packet contents into crockpot along with favorite BBQ sauce. Cook on "low" setting for 6-8 hours. Just before dinner time, break apart meat with a fork to shred and serve on toasted buns. 

Meal #3: Cuban sandwiches. I've only discovered these in the past 10 years. My husband's family is part Cuban, so it's a favorite in his family. After cooking the roast, I thinly slice a portion of the roast. It can be tough to make these sandwiches because it calls for roasted pork and deli ham. I don't know about you, but I don't always have roasted pork available. I've found that it is easiest to make the large roast and save some for sandwiches later in the month. Here's my basic recipe. I don't have too many measurements, so please be kind. Around lunchtime, I just put the entire frozen foil packet into a 300-degree oven for several hours. By the time I am ready to start assembling the sandwiches, my pork roast is ready. It makes for an easy dinner.

The following is my husbands favorite way to make the Cuban Sandwich. I've found another great recipe, which looks to be very similar. 

The Cuban Sandwich

Equal portions of roasted pork and deli-sliced ham
Cuban bread loaf (looks a lot like french bread but has a thin, cracker-like crust)
Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard
Mayo (optional. I'm not a big fan of it in this sandwich)
Dill pickle slices
2 Tbsp butter
1 Garlic clove, thinly sliced

  1. Melt butter and garlic clove in small saucepan. Yummy... garlic.butter.
  2. Preheat sandiwch press. I don't have one, so I just use two skillets and press together. Heat one skillet on medium heat.
  3. Cut cuban bread into sections (about 3-4 sandwiches per large loaf) and slice in half lengthwise.
  4. Layer on bottom half: roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, and dill pickles. Spread mustard along inside top of bread.
  5. Close sandwich and brush entire outside of sandwich with melted garlic butter.
  6. Place in sandwich press. Again, if using skillet, place in preheated skillet and press other skillet on top. They key is to flatten the sandwich as much as possible. For skillet cooking, flip after cooking a few minutes and press on the other side.
  7. Remove from skillet or sandwich press and cool for 2 minutes. Slice diagonally and serve warm.
Next week, I'm going to make these sandwiches but on individual kaiser rolls. When toasted in the oven, they have the same crackery crust as cuban bread. We'll see how well this works. 

Meal #4 (not pictured): This can be a similar variation to Meal #1 by using the leftover, frozen meat and gravy.

I'm sure there are many more meals you can prepare with the pork roast. The point is to think about freezing the leftovers in portioned packets for easy meal prep. Meals like this are great for the nights that I teach dance. I can have dinner in the oven for hubby and the boys and feel good about giving them a warm meal, even if I'm not there. It would also work great if you are planning to out during the afternoon. You can put the packet in the oven on a low temperature and come home to warm food in the oven.

Happy Friday!


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