Sobeys Recipe Corner: Prep Once, Cook Plenty
Stocking up on a value pack or two of meat – a whole pork tenderloin or economical blade steak – makes it easy to prep ahead for a variety of quick and tasty meals. The possibilities are endless for tantalizing dishes when you divvy up your meat and combine each portion with different fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and other flavourful pantry staples. Look forward to plenty of wholesome and delicious dinners!
According to Canada’s Food Guide, one portion of meat is 2 ½ oz (75 g), or about the size of a deck of playing cards. We’ve designed these dishes with those serving sizes in mind to make the meat you buy – not to mention your budget – stretch as far as possible. It’s all about balance!
Our recipes for boneless blade steak and whole pork tenderloin give you 9 new meal ideas to bring to the table. Plus, find tips on how to make the most of each cut. (We’ll let you take the compliments on how delicious everything tastes.)
Get the Most from Your Meat
Some cuts are naturally tender, while others require a little more time and TLC to bring out their best. Follow these suggestions to make each cut as flavourful and juicy as possible.
- Cook tender cuts quickly at higher temperatures and serve rare to medium-rare, not well-done, as overcooking can toughen the meat.
- Today’s pork doesn’t need to be cooked to greyness. A little bit of pink in the centre is fine, as long as a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 160˚F (71˚C). (The exception is ground meat, which should be cooked thoroughly.)
- Naturally tender cuts can be lean and will taste more succulent if you add a little extra fat, such as olive oil or butter.
- To keep meat tender, save salting for last. Adding salt early draws out too much liquid, making the meat dry.
- Size matters. When dealing with a tough piece of meat, cutting it down to bite-size pieces makes it a little less chewy. This method also renders the meat more versatile. Chopped or thinly sliced blade steak, for example, turns your favourite salad into a delicious main course.
- Keeping a well-stocked pantry means you can create amazing variety within your weekly meal plan – fuss-free and on budget.
- Many vegetables can be prepped ahead and then refrigerated or frozen to make mealtime more convenient. Chop onions, celery and carrots in advance, then bag and refrigerate or freeze them in small batches. Freeze chopped onions raw, and blanch chopped carrots for two minutes before freezing. Celery can be frozen raw if you’ll use it within a few months, or blanched or lightly sautéed before flash freezing.
Dishes for Days
To prepare each group of recipes, you’ll need to start with two Super Saver packs of that cut. We’ve included easy make-ahead instructions for each. If you choose to prep in advance and freeze, simply place batches in a sealed container or freezer bag for 8 to 12 months for pork and 10 to 12 months for beef. Allow meat to thaw in the refrigerator right before using.
Beef: Boneless Blade Steak
Blade steak comes from a well-used part of the breast, near the shoulder – it’s part of the chuck. To bring out its full tenderness, you need to either pound or marinate this cut before cooking it low and slow.
Hitting the steak with a meat mallet or tenderizer breaks down the tough tissues, giving succulent results. Alternatively, some tropical fruits, such as pineapple and papaya, contain enzymes that break down tough protein strands. Starting with the juice of either as a marinade, for four to 24 hours, is both effective and super-delicious.
It’s also vital to use the right cooking method for this tougher but substantially more flavourful cut of meat. Generally, think low, slow and moist. Braising, stir-frying and pan-frying are all great options.
- Pan-Fried Steak with Roast Green Beans & Parsnips To cook up a quick yet hearty meal for cooler evenings: Top lightly caramelized roasted parsnips, green beans and almonds with pan-fried succulent blade steak strips tenderized with pineapple juice and flavoured with Montreal steak spice.
- Beef Parmesan For a new, super-easy twist on Chicken Parm: Pound blade steak, then encrust with herbed breadcrumbs and bake in a mouth-watering Italian-style tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella. Serve once the cheese has turned golden and bubbly.
- Mexican-Style Steak Wrap To whip up wraps that pack a spicy punch: Roll pan-fried, salsa-marinated blade steak strips with creamy guacamole, crispy shredded iceberg lettuce and warm refried beans in tortillas.
- Quick One-Pot Beef & Potato Stew To nourish your family with a hearty stew: Braise blade steak cubes with potatoes, green or yellow beans, shiitake mushrooms, baby-cut carrots, pearl onions, bay leaf and thyme in a rich beef broth.
Make-ahead: From two Super Saver packs of blade steak, separate four medallions of about 2 oz (60 g) each, plus four more 8-oz (250 g) portions. Leave one 8-oz (250 g) portion whole, cut two into thin strips, and cut the fourth into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes, then follow these prep instructions.
- Pan-Fried Steak with Roast Green Beans & Parsnips: Add beef to marinade and refrigerate or freeze.
- Beef Parmesan: Pound each medallion between two sheets of parchment paper until about 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick. Refrigerate or freeze with a layer of waxed paper between each steak.
- Mexican-Style Steak Wrap: Combine thin slices of beef with salsa and refrigerate or freeze.
- Quick One-Pot Beef & Potato Stew: Refrigerate or freeze beef cubes until ready to use.
Whole Pork Tenderloin
As easy to work with as it is naturally tender and delicious, this is a premium boneless cut. It also tends to have less fat than other pork cuts, so it’s important not to overcook tenderloin and to include additional fat, such as olive oil, in the recipe.
Pork tenderloin has a fat end that tapers down to a skinny end. When a recipe calls for a whole piece or individual chops, use the fat end; when it calls for pieces or slices, use the skinny end. From a typical loin, you’ll get one roast or four chops, and enough end strips to serve four.
- Oven-Braised Pulled Pork Sandwiches For a tasty hand-held meal: Slow-cook pork tenderloin, then shred and combine with barbecue sauce and coarsely grated carrot to ramp up the flavour. Serve pulled pork in warm hamburger buns with creamy coleslaw.
- Spiced Pork & Sweet Potato Fajitas For an explosion of flavours and textures: Fill warm tortillas with roasted chunks of sweet potato and skillet-fried onions, kidney beans, peppers and spiced pork tenderloin slices. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.
- Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Smashed Potatoes & Spinach Salad To make a deceptively sophisticated yet easy-to-assemble dinner: Make roasted smashed potatoes, then pan-fry seasoned pork chops. Dress a simple spinach salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, then top with the pork and potatoes and juicy halved cherry tomatoes.
- Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cauliflower For a showstopper that’s actually budget friendly and easy to prep: Stuff tenderloin with flavourful rice or quinoa and raisins, shallots, thyme and mustard. Roast the pork in a skillet, surrounded by cumin- and brown sugar-coated cauliflower and carrots doused in chicken broth.
- Pork Stir-Fry with Broccoli & Mushrooms To cook up an Asian-style dinner rich in savoury flavour: Stir-fry chopped oyster mushrooms, onions and garlic with crunchy broccoli florets, water chestnuts and tenderloin pork slices. Add toasted sesame oil and chicken broth at the end, then serve on a bed of rice, rice noodles or quinoa, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
Make ahead: Start with two Super Saver pork tenderloins. From the skinny ends, cut one 8-oz (250 g) portion and one 6.5-oz (180 g) portion; from the remainder (or fat ends), cut two 12-oz (375 g) portions and one 10-oz (300 g) portion, then follow these instructions.
- Oven-Braised Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Rub one 12-oz (375 g) portion of pork with oil and the spice mixture, then wrap with the onion in a few layers of aluminum foil. Place inside a plastic bag and refrigerate or freeze.
- Spiced Pork & Sweet Potato Fajitas: Thinly slice the 8-oz (250 g) portion of pork, toss with spices, and refrigerate or freeze.
- Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Smashed Potatoes & Spinach Salad: Cut one 12-oz (375 g) portion of pork into four medallions. To freeze, oil each medallion and season with pepper, then place between sheets of waxed paper.
- Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cauliflower: Slice the 10-oz (300 g) portion of pork down the middle to butterfly, then season with pepper and refrigerate or freeze.
- Pork Stir-Fry with Broccoli & Mushrooms: Thinly slice the 6.5-oz (180 g) portion of pork and refrigerate or freeze.
The Care and Handling of Meat
Use these handy tips for Safe Meat Prep and Storage in your kitchen.
- Shop for meat and poultry last, just before reaching the cashier, and pack meat in separate bags to prevent cross-contamination. Once your grocery trip is done, try to head straight home instead of running other errands, and put meat in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home.
- Use fresh meat and poultry within two to three days after buying, or freeze until you are ready to cook.
- Store leftover raw meat and poultry well wrapped on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent any juices from dripping on other foods. Be sure to use leftovers within two to three days of purchase.
- Thaw frozen meats and poultry in the fridge or microwave, not on the counter. Bacteria can grow quickly and invisibly when food is at room temperature. If using the microwave to defrost meat or poultry, cook the meat immediately after thawing.
- Once the food stops steaming, cool leftovers in the fridge, not on the stove or on the counter. If you have a large amount, divide it into smaller portions before refrigerating, as it will cool faster that way.
- Cut and prepare raw meat and poultry on a separate cutting board from that used to cut vegetables, fruit or other foods.
- Cook all meat to the safe internal temperatures specified in recipes; use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat has been cooked to the right temperature.
- Plate and serve cooked meat on a clean platter – do not use the one that held the raw meat or poultry prior to cooking.
- Check package labels and always use food by the “best before” date.