30 May 2011

Three dinners from one roast

I am often asked how we can afford to have a roast every Sunday, as though a roast is going to blow our food budget right out of the frugal category.  I'm happy enough to admit that roasts are very expensive, a leg of lamb can easily set you back $30, a beef roast can easily be $20.

If you only get one meal from one of those roasts then yes, it will blow your food bill to smithereens. I easily get at least three meals, often more, from one roast, without skimping either, and I'm feeding three strapping males plus Hannah and myself.

Take last night's roast for instance. It was a piece of beef, 1.6kg in size. I bought it on last week when Aldi had it on sale, it cost $14.38 and I'm going to get three dinners from it.

 I seasoned it and browned it all over in a little olive oil in the baking dish before roasting it in a pre-heated oven at 175 degrees Celsius. Oh, I put the meat on a rack and put 2 cups of stock and 2 bay leaves into the baking dish. If you do this, just make sure the meat isn't sitting in the stock.  The stock formed the base of the gravy.  Browning the meat before it goes into the oven gives a lovely flavour to the meat and leaves some nice bits in the bottom of the pan for gravy. By the way did you know that if you want your meat to really brown nicely it needs to be dry? Before you put it into the hot oil dry it with a clean dish cloth or a some paper towel.

We had roast vegetables with the beef:  potato, onion, carrot and sweet potato which I put around the meat for the last hour of cooking.

I used half the roast, thinly sliced for dinner. The other half was cut in half. One piece will be diced for tonight's dinner of a sweet curry. Usually I'd use lamb in a sweet curry, but as I don't have lamb, the beef will do.

To make the curry dice one apple, one onion and two sticks celery. Heat a little oil in a large pan (I use my wok) and saute the apple, onion and celery for 1 minute. Add 2 teaspoons curry powder (more or less to taste) and cook for 1 minute. Add the diced beef and stir. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups beef stock (from a stock cube is fine) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sultanas and simmer 5 minutes. Just keep an eye on the liquid, don't let it completely evaporate.  We'll have this with steamed rice and homemade naan.  There should be enough curry for 6 serves, so one will go into the freezer for a lunch or mufti dinner.

The third dinner from this piece of beef will be a shepherds pie (again, traditionally made with lamb but I have beef).  I'll shred the remaining piece of beef with a fork.  Into the meat will go a diced onion, some diced carrot, peas, corn, celery and zucchini (because I've just checked and these are the veggies that will need to be used up).  A gravy will be the thickener or binder for the pie. Once the gravy is made, and it will be quite thick, I'll add the meat and the veggies and pour the lot into a buttered pie dish. The topping will be a potato/sweet potato mash.  I'll brush the topping with a beaten egg and brown it in a moderate oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the top peaks are crispy and the filling heated through.  Again, this should make 6 serves, so another lunch or mufti meal for the freezer.

And there you have it - three meals from one roast, with everyone being well fed and no one going hungry.

It's easy to stretch any roast - chicken can be a roast chicken one night, sweet and sour the next and chicken enchiladas the next night, with the bones going into the stock pot. Or you could just have a roast chicken dinner three nights in a row!

If you cook a leg of lamb, you will have it as a roast dinner the first night. The second night make a curry (as above) or lamb kebabs, the third night it could be sliced and served with gravy or cold with a salad. Any meat left on the bone can be put into fritters and served with homemade wedges, a green salad and some chutney. And of course the bone goes into the stockpot.

If you have  a roast with a bone (I didn't last night)  you can stretch it even further by making stock with the bones. You can use the stock for soup, to make gravies, as the liquid for risottos, to cook pasta and rice, just about any savoury dish you need a liquid.

My $14.38 piece of meat will make 3 dinners (17 serves)  with the meat component being just 84 cents per serve. With that in mind, how can I afford not to put roasts on the menu?

1 comment:

  1. When I was a young married in the early 70's and gave up work to have my first child, money was very tight. I found a marvellous book called "The Pauper's Cookbook" by Jocasta Innes (probably out of print now). It had all sorts of suggestions and recipes similar to the one you outlined above. Was a lifesaver for me.


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