Our vending machines are currently being stocked continuously with fresh beef, pork, lamb, and chicken which you can still access 24/7, though we are asking that only two customers enter the store at a time for your safety and the safety of our staff. But we know not everyone has similar access at the moment. So we wanted to take a minute to jot down some thoughts about meat as a condiment.
As we wrote in our book, The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, “Back in my grandfather’s day, and certainly my great-grandfather’s, steak was a special-occasion kind of meal. The common man ate mainly stews and roasts and a whole lot of cheap offal. Jessica grew up eating tongue, liver, sweetbreads, and brains because her mother did before her. Only in modern times do we expect to eat meat three times a day and consider a 20-ounce steak to be an individual portion.” Here are some ideas on how to stretch a steak or a chop — essentially, how to treat meat as a condiment.
Shift Your Mindset
When not faced with a global pandemic, we mainly talk about using meat as a condiment when discussing how to make it affordable and accessible. A frugal mindset is useful to tap into when you’re trying to figure out how to shelter in place, flatten the curve, only go to the grocery store when you absolutely have to, and to make what you already have on hand in your fridge and cabinets last. Here are some guiding principles:
1. You don’t need mountains of sausages or pounds of ground beef to make sauce.
2. Reduce portion sizes.
3. Don’t make meat the centerpiece of your meal.
4. Plan for leftovers. A big roast can be dinner tonight and sandwiches tomorrow.
Instead of burgers, stretch grind by making beef and bean enchiladas, sauces, chili, and bi bim bap.
Use in a pasta sauce, slice and serve over pizza, and if you’re going to grill and eat whole, serve fewer links with extra vegetables and a favorite starch, like polenta.
Chicken Thighs, Pork Cutlets, Small Steaks & More
To turn these favorite proteins into a meat condiment, slice them thin and stir-fry with vegetables. Serve with rice, quinoa, soba noodles, or even bread.
Stew is made for stretching. Use a small amount of meat and increase the amount of root vegetables including potatoes you make it with. Again, serve with a filling starch. If you have time on your hands, make biscuits. Or, if you have hominy, try making pozole.
Stretching an entire chicken could not be more simple. Roast or smoke a whole chicken for dinner one night. Make chicken salad sandwiches with the leftovers. Then take the carcass (and maybe all of stems of the vegetables you might normally compost if you have them on hand) and make chicken broth. Use it for soup and cook grains with it — the possibilities are endless.
If you happen to trim any fat off a roast, render it. Use it to fry chicken or potatoes.
Necks are the perfect thing to throw into a sauce. If you have lamb, beef, or pork neck, it’s time to make “gravy.”