Canned Meat—Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!
So, what do you think of when you think of canned meat? Spam® and Vienna Sausages? By far the most recognizable, these brands pale when compared to high quality, nutritiously and safely prepared canned meats. Suitable for use with just about any recipe, canned meats have an extended shelf life, they take up a lot less space, and they are less expensive than their fresh or frozen counterparts.
So, why don’t more people use them? Probably because there is just “something” about seeing that nice looking pork loin or thick, juicy steak, a fact we certainly can’t argue with, and the fact that the canned meats of the past left something to be desired…like texture and flavor. However, the past is the past, and today, when it comes to flavor, convenience, preparing economical family-sized meals, and storage, there is a lot to be said for using canned meats, if you understand the best ways to use them.
First, canned meat is already cooked, so don’t add it until the very end of your recipe’s cooking process. Canned meat just has to be warmed through and should be stirred as little as possible so it doesn’t break up or turn to mush. When “folded” in and heated through, the tender chunks will literally melt in your mouth, being much more tender and less expensive than if you had bought fresh or frozen meat and then cooked it for an hour or two. If you are concerned about the “meat” flavor, drain the canned meat into your pot, reserving the solids to be added during the last few minutes. You can also use bouillon cubes to add flavor or use the liquid from drained canned vegetables, substituting either of these for water, ounce for ounce.
Secondly, don’t overcook the ingredients. Carrots will usually take the longest to cook, with potatoes coming in at a close second. Add those two ingredients first and then use the texture of those two ingredients to judge when to add your canned meat. If you are using frozen or canned veggies, adjust your cooking time accordingly. These vegetables can quickly turn to mush and make what would otherwise be a great recipe, less desirable.
Finally, spend that little bit extra to buy quality canned meats. There is a difference! Just as you carefully choose a cut of meat or choose between brand name and store-brand products, you should choose your canned meat by knowing what you’re getting. Try different brands and different types. You may like the canned chicken of one company but prefer your canned beef from someone else. Don’t let just one less-than-perfect canned meat product ruin your perception. We’ve found canned meats to be just as flavorful, often less expensive and definitely more versatile when compared to fresh or frozen. They are safe to use, last longer in the pantry, don’t require you to pay for the fat you will be cutting off anyway, don’t need defrosting, and are already cut into bite-sized chunks, saving a lot of prep time.
Here are just a few ways we at Garden Harvest Supply use canned meat:
• A quick meal. Just add canned meat to mac and cheese or any “quickie” type meal for a better nutritional balance. It works well with Ramen noodles too and is a much better option than a frozen corn dog. Kids 10 and above can often make meals themselves.
• For use with frozen or box-type prepared meals that call for adding meat.
• To take on a camping trip.
• To stock the storm shelter.
• To stock the galley on your boat.
• Just for snacking. It is amazing what a little bit of mustard, ketchup or ranch dressing can do for canned meat. Some people just drain it and eat it right out of the can!
• Drain and use it for hot or cold sandwiches. Heat up some canned pork or chicken in BBQ sauce and enjoy! Or mix canned meat with mayonnaise or salad dressing, some pickle relish and whatever else may be handy for meat salad sandwiches.
• Make dump stew! Dump in a can of green beans, carrots, potatoes, chopped stewed tomatoes, corn, beans and some dried, chopped onions, along with whatever spices, except salt, and the canned meat. Use all or just some of the suggested veggies and all of the liquids in the cans. Adjust the number of cans of veggies and add enough boiled water with dissolved bouillon or chicken or beef stock to make the desired amount. Heat until hot and serve with bread or crackers! You can use our dried vegetables for dump stew, too!
• Wrap it in a tortilla spread with refried beans and cheese and heat it up. Add lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream or guacamole. If you use low-fat options, all the better!
• Add it to scrambled eggs or make an omelet; good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
• Make “thin” pancakes and wrap the heated, drained meat inside. You can reserve the meat broth to dip it in, use sour cream, cheese sauce or your own concoction.
• Mix canned meat with gravy and serve over rice or noodles. Add drained canned veggies for more texture, flavor and color.
• Sauté fresh or frozen vegetables in olive oil and spices, stirring in the meat last for a very quick stir-fry meal.
That’s it! Of course, we are sure you will have some more ideas. We would love for you to share with us! And if you are looking for canned meat for sale, we have that, as well.