More Meat Deals

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Restaurant Depot with Moose and Eric in preparation for a horror movie marathon that Moose and Tate are hosted last weekend. I offered to become the "concession stand" for the 12 hours of scary goodness.

Some of the other folks attending thought all they would be getting to snack on was popcorn and candy, but personally, I think anything is fair game. Tony and I have been attending the horror marathons off and on for almost twenty years and you never know what you will be eating.

When the marathon was at the
Drexel North, we used to go across the street and get G.D. Ritzy's hamburgers and shakes. Later on, when the horrorfest was at Studio 35, we would get pizza and subs,along with plenty of beer. When the marathon moved out to the Drexel Grandview (recently deceased), we would pack a cooler full of sandwiches and snacks to eat while shivering in the cold.

Besides chips and candy, I wanted to make a big pot of chili plus Texas queso dip. I could see lots of possibilities along with tortilla chips and possibly Fritos. Frito Pie anyone?

Once we got out to the Depot, we found that they had some really great deals on all kinds of meat. Between the three of us, we got 40 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $.60/lb, 40 lbs of chicken leg quarters for $.35/lb, 40 lbs of chicken wings for $.75/lb, 15 lbs of bacon for $.99/lb and 15 lbs of pork butt for $.99/lb.

I will tell you guys right now - I know the big push is to eat local, eat organic and grass fed, but when money is tight you gotta do what you gotta do. Split three ways, these prices just couldn't be beat. True - the bacon wasn't up to Thurn's quality, but when I am feeding 10-15 hungry movie hounds, I am not going to buy them $5.00/lb bacon.

So I spent the next 6 hours breaking the meat into portions and vacuum sealing them with my FoodSaver (recently purchased from
New Uses). Our freezers are now full of chicken and bacon.

The pork butts I kept out in anticipation of making something tasty.
I had really wanted to make some sausage. I am envious of Dave and his experiments. However, I was pressed for time and needed something that would taste great, feed a crowd and be quick to fix. So I ended up with two creations: Pulled Pork and Rosie's Burrito Filling.

These are, once again, not really recipes. They are more like gestalt cooking: something read here, something half remembered from there, add a little of the stuff you have in the pantry and voila! You have dinner.

Rubbed Butt

The Pulled Pork was something I made up based on all the recipes that I have read over the last couple years. I rubbed the butt (hehe) with yellow mustard, then coated it with a basic rub: 1 part salt, 1 part brown sugar, .5 part black pepper, some garlic powder, and ummm, I
think, some onion powder. I was flying by the seat of my pants. Whee!!! I then let the butt bask in the coating for about an hour while I fired up the grill.

The grill? you say! Why yes. I had an evil plot. I didn't have time to screw around with watching the Weber all day, so I devised a plan. First I would smoke the pork butt using an indirect method on the grill. Then I would finish it off in the oven.

I can hear the anguished cries of the purists now! "No Rose No! How can you do this?!" Will Dave come over and take my Weber for committing such sacrilege? Well, I figure not - I can bribe Dave with some excellent beer.

I think I saw this technique on tv, most like America's Test Kitchen. Yeah, I am a big enough whore that I'll steal from them. Hell they steal from other people - oh wait. They call it research. Yeah that's it! I "researched" this technique from them.

Smoked Butt

So I did a heavy smoke on the pork and let it form a nice brown crust. Then I tossed the bad boy into a 250 degree oven and baked him until he was really tender maybe 2-3 hours more. I kinda lost track of time, 'cuz I was also doing laundry and other stuff. The key to this is to keep testing it with a fork until it gets to the tenderness that you want. This was pretty soft, I should have pulled it out of the oven a little earlier, but I got into the Zen of Ironing.

Pulled Butt

Now while Mr. Pulled Pork was in the oven, I rubbed the other butt down with a mixture of freshly ground chilies (Guajillo and Ancho), garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. I then threw him in the crock pot and cooked him long and slow with a couple whole onions.

Chili Butt

Once the pulled pork was done, I then moved this butt to the oven. I love to braise in the oven over the crock pot. I think that the slow cooker really dulls down the flavors. When I finished, I shredded the meat, and set it to one side. I then took the braising liquid and reduced it to about half its previous volume. I also cheated and added a little bit of liquid from the pulled pork pan. It gave it a mild smokey, sweet undertone. I then mixed the liquid back in with the burrito filling.

Ohio-Mex Butt

I know neither of these are authentic, but I will tell you they were damn good. My husband suggested some titles for this column. Among his suggestions were "Smoke my Butt", "A Tail of Two Butts" and my favorite "Spicy Butt Love". Ahhhhhhhhhh I love it when Tony waxes poetic.

So that was my meat field trip to Restaurant Depot. It was a lot of freakin' work, but now I have my freezer stocked full for the next few months. With the economy the way it is right now, I know that my hours at work will be cut back, just like a lot of other folks. So time to hunker down and get ready boys and girls. Time to put in the staples and prepare to conserve that cash.


Ribeye Stew

Tony and I have membership to the Restaurant Depot. I've mentioned it before a long long time ago when I was a happy little blogger, not the ass dragging overworked wage slave that I am now. The recent increase in food costs have driven a few of our friends to inquire about buying costly items like meat in bulk, then divvying it up amongst the group. In particular, steaks and bacon were at the top of the list. (Single guys...go figure.)

As those of you who buy at places like the Depot know, the wholesale cost isn't always as good as a loss leader at a regular store. For example, ten pounds of 80/20 ground beef was $1.99/lb at the Depot. I recently purchased a ten pound bag of 80/20 at Schumann's for $1.79/lb. Not a huge savings, but the quality at Schumann's was better to boot.

Today I picked up a whole ribeye. At $4.99/lb it was not a huge steal, but still good. I spent the afternoon trimming the primal and cutting it up into steaks to be vacuum sealed and put in the freezer against the long dark winter. I had lots of little pieces of meat left so I decided to try my hand at crock pot beef stew.

I will admit to lifting a tip from America's Test Kitchen. Well, they actually got it from someone else. I found lots of references to it on the internet once I looked. The biggest problem with crock pot stews is that they get really watery. With a heavy tight fitting lid, the water never has a chance to escape, plus you have lots of liquid coming out of the foods in the pot - you can see how it would end up meat-flavored water real fast. The instant tapioca was a great fix, and it left no floury aftertaste as if I had poured the broth into a pan on the stove and thickened it with a slurry, which is what I have done in the past.

True, I think its a huge cheat. I would must rather do it the old fashioned way, stews and soups taste so much better on the stove. Of course, when you still have to do things like run your 17 yr old daughter to the store to buy $100.00 worth of shoes, crock pots look real nice. (You still owe me $50 for those boots Annie!!!)

The recipe went something like this:

2 pounds of ribeye scraps, generally about 1" square
3 medium onions, fine dice
4 cloves garlic, squooshed
2 T tomato paste
2 pounds of potatoes, cut into large dice
1 pound of turnips, cut into large dice
1.5 pounds of carrots, cut into large dice
4 oz of dried mushrooms, re-hydrated and rough chopped
4 cups beef broth, from the freezer (yes, some of my stuff was saved!)
3T instant tapioca
Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and 2 bay leaves

Sprinkle a little salt onto the meat. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a pan - I used a cast iron skillet. Get good and hot; brown off the meat. Remove to slow cooker. Lower heat to medium. Add onions to skillet and cook until transparent. Add in garlic and tomato paste. Cook briefly until you can smell the garlic. Remove to slowcooker. Add broth to pan and deglaze. Pour into slow cooker.

Add veggies and tapioca. Season to taste and throw in the bay leaves. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Taste towards end of cooking and adjust seasoning. I've been known to saute up another onion and a couple more cloves of garlic to toss in towards the end. The stew tends to have a flat taste after cooking so long and you need to brighten up the flavors. A shot of Tabasco or Worcestershire isn't bad either.

The stew went into the fridge overnight. We'll see how the tapioca reheats. Also, I plan on freezing half for a future dinner, so we'll see how the tapioca freezes as well.

News Flash: The stew reheated fine - but it never got frozen due to the fact that it was eaten very quickly. I also never got a picture of it. My camera is having issues. Ah - when it rains it pours!