Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Saving Money on Pork: buying at its rock bottom price and what to do with it.

It is very hard to find coupons towards meat, so your best bet is to buy a TON of it when it goes on sale.

Just like my previous post about the $0.99 per pound chicken breast, and all the wonderful things you can do with it- I now present to you how to do the same with pork.

Pork loin chops is a cheap cut of meat that frequently goes on sale for $0.99 per pound. Today I bought 3 huge packs totaling around 10 pounds, for $11.

Many of the chops I kept as is to be cooked into pork chops as the usual. I wrapped 2 of them in plastic wrap and put them in freezer bags. I did this to half of my pork chop bounty and ended up with 5 bags.

The other half of my pork chops were the kinda ugly ones. In these bulk packs of cheap pork chops, some of them were too long and had the bone part right in the middle which doesn't make for pretty grilled pork chop.

Left: ugly pork chop with bone in the center. Right: Pretty round pork chop with bone on the outside.
 So the ugly ones were aside and de-boned them for other uses. It is easy to de-bone, just follow around the bone with a very sharp knife.

Here are the many things I could do with the de-boned version of the pork chops:

Slice them up tenderloin style for faster cooking.

Pound them thin for extra fast cooking, stuffing them, or stuffing them into roll formation style.

Slice them up tenderloin style to imitate boneless ribs and BBQ them.

Keep the meat as is and throw it into your crock pot for shredded beef, sloppy joes, or chunky soup.

Pre-season the meat before you pack it into freezer bags. Try a seasoning blends inspired by different countries to get a lot of variety so you wont get bored eating so much pork.

Seasoned with soy sauce for some Asian flavor.
Grind the meat in your blender or general food processor for burgers and pasta sauces. You do not need a special meat grinder if you have a decent blender or food processor. I use a Ninja blender. Don't trim the fat off the pork pieces if you decide to grind it. You need some kind of fat to hold it together. My pieces were not very fatty anyways.

Don't forget those pork bones! Make some pork stock which is delicious for soups. I think pork stock goes better with Asian type cuisine (wonton soup, etc...), than chicken stock. Just my preference.

OR- you can make something extra special and delicious you will never buy the store bought version again, and so incredible easy to make it will astound you. Sausage. Lots of perfectly flavored, fresh sausage. And since you ground the meat yourself you know exactly what is in it. No preservatives, artificial flavors, fillers, or slimes.

 My favorite is Italian style. So I used this recipe I found from Emeril called "Homemade Mild Italian Sausage". Click HERE to go to the recipe. You can find recipes for sweet or spicy Italian sausage too.

Note: if your recipe calls for the use of ground fennel or anise seeds DO NOT SKIP IT! I didn't have this stuff in my pantry because I never cooked with it before. I almost decided to just not add it. But you must use it when making sausage. It is what makes sausage, sausage...and gives it that sausage flavor. Now that I have these spices in my pantry they will definitely get used as I turn some portion of every future bulk meat purchase into sausage. Like Chicken sausage for example. And the aroma when cooking with these spices is just heavenly.

Oh yea, and Emeril's recipe calls for toasted fennel seeds. Just put 1.5 tsp of fennel seeds into a small pan and heat it up until it gets aromatic and a light brown toasty color. It took like 2 minutes. Let it cool before you add it to the pork. I ground my toasted fennel seeds and the anise seeds in a simple mortar and pestle because I prefer it ground instead of getting seed chunks in my sausage. Just saying.

Anyways, you don't need special equipment besides your blender/food processor and your hands. It took me less than 20 minutes to convert the last 3 pounds of pork into 3 more sandwich size freezer bags worth of sausage. Make sure you sanitize everything before and after making sausage.

Two of these sausage portions was wrapped in plastic wrap and put into freezer bags. The other portion I rolled into many tiny meatballs for easy addition into soups. You could also make patties for breakfast. When making balls or patties, shape them first, then lay them out on a plat so that they are not touching. Then freeze them individually before putting them in freezer bags.

And don't forget- before you package the sausage away or cook it, make a few small patties and cook them up so you can taste it. Then adjust it to your liking. It sucks making a whole batch of sausage and thinking its well flavored, and then you cook it to find out its not.

I didn't have to add anything else to my sausage after following Emeril's recipe. My trial patties were so juicy too! The flavor was so perfectly balanced and savory. I don't know how to describe it besides "clear and clean", uninterrupted sausage flavor.

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