Monday, June 4, 2012

Delicious: Freezer Cooking

Well, I did another round of freezer cooking today!  When beef is on sale, I always buy the 5 lb bundle; it won't be cheaper anytime soon, and it can be used in so many dishes.  Today I broke that 5 lb roll of ground chuck (80/20) into 2 dozen meatballs, 6 burgers, and a meatloaf.

First, I separated the meat into three bowls; I put 2 lbs in one bowl and 1.5 lbs in each other bowl.

Burgers (2 lb = 6 burgers)
Grilled and Packed Up
Normally I make 4 burgers per pound, but these are for Doug to take to work or quick dinners for me, so I made them a bit bigger.

I never really measure seasoning anymore, but here's a break down of about what I used for 2 lbs:  2 tbsp light soy sauce, 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tbsp pepper.  That's it!  Sometimes I add a bit (between 2 and 3 tsps) of garlic powder too.  I always use soy sauce instead of salt in these kind of dishes to keep the meat moist.

I formed 6 equal patties and grilled them until medium rare/medium (about 7-8 minutes on high heat).  I like under-cooking them a bit when I know they will be reheated in the microwave; it will keep them from being overdone or too tough.  These will actually stay in the fridge instead of the freezer ;)

Meatloaf (1.5 lb = 1 large loaf)
Neither Doug nor I are a big fan of "traditional" meat loaf -- onions, celery, carrots, beef, ketchup inside and over the top -- but we love burgers, meatballs, and other beef dishes, so I made my own take of a meatloaf.  I only made one for now (which we will eat tomorrow); it we both really like it, I will start making some for the freezer!

Again, I usually eye-ball seasoning, but here are the guesstimate amounts:  1/3 to 1/2 c quick-cooking oats, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp pepper, and 2 tsp garlic powder.  I also added some sauteed onions (from the freezer) in the mix.  Oats are a great meatloaf filler (in lieu of bread crumbs) because they absorb more liquid, keeping the loaf more moist; however, because they do absorb liquid, it is important to make sure the meat is very moist (hence the bit larger amounts of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce).

I wrapped it up in foil and placed it in the fridge to be cooked tomorrow.

Meatballs (1.5 lbs = ~2 dozen meatballs)
We love having meatballs in the freezer to make quick hoagies, to add to pasta, or to become a quick appetizer for guests!
Bag o' Balls

I bet you'll never guess how I measure seasoning for these fellas! ;)
Estimate seasoning:  1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tbsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 2-3 tsp Italian Seasoning.

After mixing the beef, I divided it into 4 pieces; each piece was split into 6 meatballs (= 24 total).  If a meatball looks a bit bigger or smaller than the others, I pull the excess of and set it aside.  Normally there is enough excess to form one or two additional meatballs.  I normally don't count or pay attention to the number that much when making these, but I know there is at least 2 dozen in there!

After I made them, I browned all of them in a large pan and cooked until medium rare/medium.  I let them cool before transferring to a cookie sheet (with parchment paper) to freeze.  When frozen, I put them in a large freezer bag!

Overall, it took me about an hour to get everything completed (plus about an hour for the meatballs to freeze until they could be stowed).  Not bad!

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