Tag Archives: Improvising in the Kitchen

Cooking Tip: Rescuing BBQ

Every once in a while, no matter how you try, BBQing, or even cooking in the oven or on the stove just is NOT going to cooperate with you.

I had an incident like that a few nights ago. It was relatively easy to prevent in the first place, BUT I was rushed and distracted by a head full of other tasks that needed to get done. Here’s exactly what happened:

I was grilling whole boneless chicken breasts. I’ve done it dozens of times before and rarely have a problem. I got in a hurry though and just spread out the charcoal evenly to cook via direct heat. That would have worked if they were fillets cut thinner, but these were whole boneless breasts. They were thick enough that I should have cooked them slower over indirect heat (charcoal off to the sides).

Instead, the outside was cooking fast, but the centers… not so much.

That’s largely seasoning that blackened there also, by the way. 🙂

But, because I *am* a super genius:

I was able to salvage it and create a nearly perfect dinner. I just threw the chicken in the microwave for about a minute and a half (one piece at a time) and cooked the rare part without drying out the rest of the chicken breast.

Despite how the PC might be making it look, (my color seems to be acting up) there was no pink left, but it was still very tender and juicy. I should note also that with the minute and a half cooking time in the microwave that we have a 1200 watt microwave. It’s STRONG. 🙂 End result though:

So the lesson for the day is be creative if your meal isn’t turning out as planned. Some chefs will tell you that a microwave has no place in a real kitchen. I think I just proved otherwise, lol. Even if your attempt to rescue your meal fails, you’re no worse off than if you’d goofed it completely without trying a fix, right?

Another option with the chicken would have been to cut it up and cook it in a skillet on the stove, but that would have dried it out unless I was super careful.

Improvise, adapt and overcome. 😉

Salvaging a Horrible Meal’s Leftovers

I figured out how to beat my iPhone’s refusal to transfer pictures. Long story short, I did it via a Windows Explorer file move. So, my cooking posts will be a bit more frequent now. 🙂

Tonight’s post is a lesson in salvaging leftovers from a meal that doesn’t turn out. First, a brief backstory: My step brother was doing Christmas this year, so I did an early meal on Sunday when my brother and mom were coming over to attend Christmas Eve services with us (our church is huge so they have Christmas Eve services for a few days before Christmas). I did prime rib. It’s become a tradition, and they’ve always turned out. Then came this year…

I went to Costco to get the meat. Those who recall my meat shopping guide may recall that it’s one of the few places left in my area that I used to trust for meat shopping. Well, Costco pulled a fast one on me. First, there was a thick layer of silver skin on top that was hidden by the label. I should have noticed that the meat was too red also. Cherry red isn’t a natural color for meat.

Once I trimmed away the silver skin with a filet knife, I found brown meat underneath it:

Too late to take it back, and not wanting to fight the insane crowds at Costco, I decided to make the best of it. I cooked the prime rib as usual. It turned out pink inside too:

The above picture was taken the next day after the leftovers had been in the fridge overnight. None the less, it’s obvious the roast was a typical medium rare, None the less, the meat tasted like overcooked chuck roast and was a tough as shoe leather. My literally 400 pound brother only ate one slice.

Not wanting to throw out two thirds of a $70 piece of meat, I brainstormed on how to salvage it in ANY form. My final solution was to make three packets of McCormick’s Au Jus mix, then put that and the prime rib into the crock-pot slow cooker to try to simmer some life back into it. I used Au Jus mix instead of bullion cubes to avoid adding excess salt to the meat.

End result was that the meat was more tender and moist, but it also ended up being crumbly like a pot roast. That was strike two, but I wasn’t down yet…

I took 1/3 of the remaining meat and made cream of potato soup with beef:

A little cheddar cheese and sour cream added to it also. 🙂

Another third, I treated similar to pulled pork, and made into BBQ sandwiches:

Note that unlike many places that serve such sandwiches, I DO NOT drown the meat in sauce. I owe that practice to my Texas roots I suppose. 🙂 BBQ sauce, like any seasoning, should add to and compliment the flavor or meat, NOT hide it. If you’re getting BBQ that’s more sauce than meat, I guarantee you they’re not cooking the meat properly.

The last third is going to be made into shredded beef Tex-Mex food of some type. Tacos, burritos, or nachos. We haven’t decided yet.

I was looking forward to another meal of prime rib, and a prime rib sandwich or two. The meat was nowhere near edible enough for that, but a little creative thinking did enable me to avoid throwing out $40+ worth of meat.