Meals

Recipe: Pot o' Beans

Yes, you are eating the premium locally-grown-grass-fed-drug-and-steroid-free-on-organically-grown-pasture-and-forest meats in this region, priced accordingly, (that’s a mouthful!).
So how can you stretch that budget and still eat grandly? Occasionally use JVF meat as a flavor enhancer rather than the entree’ itself.

Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure:

  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter. Start the rice. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.
  2. Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

The JVF Dinner Taco

While relieving Clay at the Sugar Land drop site last month, I got to talking to a member about his regular order of 4 dozen eggs along with his box of meats. He related that when his wife first ordered 4 dozen, he was skeptical that his young family would eat that many eggs in a month. Turns out they have never eaten less than that. (As an aside, this family was not the biggest consumer of our eggs. One family orders 10 dozen per month!)

The egg discussion reminded me that eggs are another way of smoothing out your food costs. At 50 cents each, you pack a lot of protein, vitamins, minerals and satisfaction into a meal by adding just one egg. Your young ones especially need the protein for the brains and the good fat for the cells and hearts. You can make a complete meal wrapped in a tortilla if you think about having breakfast tacos for dinner. Here is one of the many ways you can include eggs at your dinner table:

Before talking about the cooking process, think of the many ingredients that can be combined into a taco to make a complete meal in a wrap. Bell and jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, corn, southern peas (black-eyes, blacks, purple hulls), beans (pinto, great northern, navy, refried), cheese ( I like sharp cheddar best, but gruyere is hard to beat too), mushrooms, bacon, ground pork, sausage or beef...and top it off with tomato and fresh lettuce or cabbage. And like soup, you can use the taco to finish off leftovers in the fridge. More stretch for your dollar.

-The JVF Dinner Taco-

Procedure:

  • Set your oven at 170 degrees so that you are ready to store the tacos when finished.
  • Choose whatever ingredients you like, but I always include a base of chopped onion and bell pepper. Add to that a starch, be that potato, sweet corn or southern peas. If you are adding a meat, it should be cooked separately or brought out from your leftover container and added in just to warm it.
  • When all of your base is cooked or warmed together, add one whisked egg per person and cook on a medium to low heat until eggs are finished.
  • Spoon on to individual tortillas, add cheese and/or salsa if you like, wrap in aluminum foil, and store in warm oven. Let the many flavors meld together for a while in the oven. You can top with shredded lettuce or cabbage and diced tomato and cucumber at the table, or not - a complete meal in one package.
  • Tortillas: If corn is your preference, I prefer steaming to warm them. If the flour type, I brown them slightly in a lightly oiled skillet. Neither is necessary. You can use them straight from their wrapper. The oven will provide some warmth for your tortilla.
  • Serve hot in their wrapper. A meal for all seasons. It’s a good thing.

How We Used It All

Sometimes I write the newsletter and sometimes you write it for me. This segment is written by you, specifically Matt, one of our newest members. We were impressed by his and his wife’s use of their month’s supply of meat, think it will give you something to think about, and therefore dedicate this segment to their efforts. Here it is.

Honi Ann,
I recently visited my parents in NC, and was reading their local CSA newsletter. In the newsletter, they had one of the CSA customers write what they did with all the veggies in the most recent delivery. I thought it was a good idea, and thought you might be interested in what we did with the August delivery of meat. Feel free to include this in next month's newsletter as well if you like the idea.
- 3 packages of ground pork and 3 packages of ground hamburger:
Pack #1 - Combined with Pack #1 of ground hamburger, some salt and pepper, and formed into meatballs. Simmered in pan with a can or two of diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley.
Pack #2 - Made pork sliders using a recipe that was included in a past newsletter. Made several small, thin patties and cooked them quickly in a hot cast iron skillet with butter. Did the same thing with Pack #2 of hamburger.
Pack #3 - Combined with Pack #3 of ground hamburger, some salt and pepper, and formed into meatballs. Simmered in a pan with a can of mushrooms and some cream of mushroom soup.
- 2 NY strip steaks: Sliced both steaks into thin strips, sauteed quickly over high heat, combined with stir-fry vegetables and soy sauce to make a beef stir-fry.
- 1 pack beef cutlets: Seasoned with salt and pepper and browned over high heat. Added onions and minced garlic.  Simmered in chicken broth for 30 minutes until tender, served with rice.
- 1 pack pork cutlets: Same recipe as the beef cutlets, but simmered in tomato sauce instead of chicken broth. Served with pasta and some roasted cauliflower.
- Whole chicken: A little salt, pepper, and olive oil and then grilled whole using indirect heat until done (measured using internal temp which I don't remember...165F maybe?). The skin was crispy, and the meat was still juicy. Definitely doing it this way again.
- 1 pack leg quarters Salt, pepper, then grilled. When done, applied my father-in-law's secret recipe SC-style BBQ sauce.
- 1 pork belly Cured for 3 days in the fridge using Morton's Tenderquick, honey, brown sugar, and some pepper. Smoked over hickory until 155F, sliced thick and refrigerated. Browned a few slices in a cast iron skillet each morning to eat with the eggs.
- 1 pack pork fat Rendered down in the crock pot, filtered, and stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator. This is my fat of choice for cooking eggs, sauteeing veggies, etc.
- 1 pack beef sausage Smoked over hickory and served with the secret SC-style BBQ sauce.
- Jowl: Smoked in the same batch with the bacon, and put in a pot of collard greens to add a delicious smoky flavor.
- Eggs Scramble or over easy alongside the bacon each morning until gone.
There you go, I hope it gives others some ideas about what to do with their meat.
Matt

 

The Frugal Chef

Farmers are frugal but not pound foolish, using their resources to their potential while also enhancing them for the next season.. We cannot afford to waste our grasses, our garden, or our orchard or woods. The goal is to use them wisely. You can and probably do, adopt the same attitude in the kitchen. Waste is a bad thing in all aspects of life - it’s just plain sinful. So let’s talk about how to make these clean, nutritious meats go a long way at your dinner table.

I’ll use a typical cooler of monthly meats and what you can do with them as our working example of how many individual servings can come from one box. My assumption about weights per serving come from my up bringing in the food business. Chefs assume 4 to 6 ounces of meat per individual serving - and chefs always want to have more food than they think they will need.

  • 1 big fat hen weighs 3 lbs. Roast it and yield 1 breast and 1 hind quarter the first night for 2 servings. Trim the other breast and hind quarter the second night for sandwiches, 4 servings. Simmer the wings and the remaining carcass into stock then scrape the attached meat off, toss the carcass, and make a chicken noodle and vegetable soup. At least 4 soup servings. Total servings from 1 big fat hen: 10.
  • 1 beef roast weighs 2 lbs. Make my favorite, the pot roast with plenty of vegetables included. 5 servings. Or use half of the roast for sandwiches the next night and get 7 or 8 servings from the roast (can you tell that I like sandwiches and soups? You can do so much with them in term of variety of taste and nutrients added). Total servings from one roast: 5 to 8
  • 1 pork roast weighs 2 lbs. Ditto the above. Total servings per roast: 5 to 8
  • 2 beef steaks weigh 28 ounces. Treat yourself and get only 2 (massive) servings from the steaks. Total: 2 servings
  • 1 pkg pork or beef shanks weigh 1 lb. Make Osso Bucco and serve 4 or make a pot of beans with the shanks as the compliment and serve 6. Total servings: 4 to 6.
  • 2 pkgs ground beef weighs 2 lbs. Use 1 to make spaghetti carbonara for 4 servings and the other to make quarter pound burgers for 4 more. Or make a beef vegetable soup and add 2 more servings. Total servings: 8-10
  • 2 pkgs ground pork weighs 2 lbs. Ditto above. Total servings: 8-10
  • 2 pkgs country sausage weighs 28 ounces. Grill and eat and get 7 servings or make a sausage and bean on rice dish and extend it to 10 hearty servings. Total servings: 7 to 10.
  • 1 pkg beef or pork cutlets weighs ½ pound: Bread it and fry in your pork lard and make 2 servings. Total servings: 2

As a frugal chef, you will yield at least 51 and as many as 66 generous servings from 1 cooler of meat. And I have no doubt that you will find even more ways to stretch it - these are the obvious ones.

Food is life, just as essential as  air, water and sunshine. We can have it all if we are frugal and wise.