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Meat Bases for OAMC recipes

In recipes for freezing, especially dishes that contain several ingredients, you usually add all the ingredients before placing the food in the freezer. However, some spices and seasonings change during freezer storage. Undesirable changes can occur with:

  • Pepper, cloves, garlic and synthetic vanilla, which tend to become strong and bitter.
  • Onion flavor changes, and may become flatter or sharper depending on the type of onion and preparation.
  • Celery seasoning becomes strong.
  • Curry and similar spice blends may develop a musty off-flavor.
  • Salt loses flavor.
  • Salt also tends to increase rancidity of any item containing fat.

So, season foods lightly before freezing. Add additional seasonings when reheating or serving. Package in meal size quntities, whatever that is for you. Once you have thawed raw meat, don't refreeze meats unless you cook them first.

Containers: Air is the enemy! When food is packed in plastic freezer bags, press air from the bag. Press firmly, begin at the bottom of the bag and move toward the unfilled top part of the bag to prevent air from reentering. If you are not using zippered baggies, seal by twisting and folding back the top of the bag (gooseneck) and securing with a string, good quality rubber band or covered-wire twist tie. Seal rigid containers carefully. Use a tight lid and keep the sealing edge free from moisture or food to ensure a good closure. Secure loose-fitting covers with freezer tape. Larger pieces of meats may be packaged using either the drugstore wrap or the butcher wrap.

Label each package with the name of the product, packaging date, number of servings or amount and the form of the food, such as whole, sliced, etc. Note the cooking instructions and anything which has to be added at cooking time. Use freezer tape or self-adhesive labels and marking pens or crayons to label packages. Also label commercially frozen foods with the storage date.

Meat Chunk Base

Reducing cooking time by pre-cooking your basic meat simplifies meal prep. For heavy meat eaters, 1 pound cooks up to three servings. Beef chuck is juicier because of the fat it includes, while rump or round is leaner. Other stew meats such as lamb or pork can be treated the same way. Each pan takes about 20 minutes to pre-cook.

8-12 pounds

Chunk the meat into your preferred size of pieces. Cook same sized chunks at one time, since you want even cooking. For greatest flexibility, omit salt and seasonings.

Using your largest pan, place cubes in a single layer over a medium heat. "Sweat the meat", turning after the first side is slightly brown, then each successive side. This lets the excess water cook out and firms up the meat. Sprinkle in a bit of oil if the meat is very lean and sticks, stirring in as you turn the meat.

Package and freeze in single layers in meal-size amounts.

Blended Ground Beef Base

Reduce meal prep time by pre-cooking your basic ground beef. For heavy meat eaters, 1 pound cooks up to three servings.

Beef Mix

40-50 servings, depends on how large you make your portions! For Salisbury steak, meatloaf, and meatballs. Because it contains pork or poultry, you MUST cook it thoroughly, not "pink in the middle".

24 ounces (3 cups) tomato sauce, broth or water to moisten the bread
2 3/4 cups dry bread crumbs OR 12 slices of bread
12 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups onion, grated with juice
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped finely (Optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
may add 2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
4 pounds ground pork or turkey, or bulk sausage
8 pounds ground beef**

This recipe makes about 3 meatloaves, 10 Salisbury Steaks, and 10 servings of meatballs.
Mix the bread or crumbs with the tomato juice or water, squish around until the bread is saturated. Grate in the onions, or stir in pre-grated onions and juice. Combine first eight ingredients. Gently and thoroughly mix the ground meats, I use my hands for this. Divide approximately in half.
For Meatloaf: Shape the larger half of the meat mix into three loaves and place in a large high sided baking dish. Don't allow the loaves to touch while baking. Bake at 350 o for one hour (165 o internal temperature at the center). Cool; wrap in heavy duty foil; label and freeze. To serve, thaw and bake in 350 o oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. I actually make mini-meatloaves by shaping them myself and baking them on a cookie sheet. Then, I flash freeze them, and put them in one gallon size bags.
For Meatballs: Shape into meatballs and place in broiler pan. Bake uncovered in 350 o oven for 30 minutes. Divide into meal sized portions. To prevent from freezing together, flash freeze on cookie sheets and place in freezer bags. label and freeze. To serve, thaw and reheat with choice of sauces.
For Salisbury Steak: Form meat mix into oval patties. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place beef patty in skillet; cook seven to eight minutes or until centers are no longer pink, turning once. Cool; place in freezer bags; freeze.
**If you can get extra lean ground beef on sale, it makes the largest servings. If you use regular ground beef, there will be a lot of beef fat to pour off when you bake the loaves or meatballs. This can be frozen and used to flavor bean dishes. Regular ground beef or ground chuck is juicier because of the fat it includes, while rump, round, or sirloin is leaner.

Ground Beef Precooked for Freezer Recipes-
a reduced fat recipe

This method of preparation REDUCES the FAT and cholesterol in your ground beef for tacos, chili etc. and gives you a fine beef broth to boot. Start with the cheapest ground beef you can buy, the fat is cooked off completely.
Each 4 pounds cooks to about 9 cups of cooked meat.

Simmering Method

Chunk up onions and carrots and celery in quite large pieces, place in the bottom of a stockpot, add several quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a gentle simmer.
Crumble in all the ground beef you need to precook for your recipes. Water should cover the beef by 1"; if not, add enough hot water to achieve the depth. Stir well, keep the heat at a simmer and cover. Stir occasionally. Cook until cooked through, about 20 minutes after it returns to a simmer, depending on amount of meat.
Drain off the water, save it.
Pick out the veggie chunks and discard (see why you left them big?). Bag up the ground meat into recipe size zipper baggies. Freeze for future use or refrigerate to use in your OAMC recipes.
Oven Method

Put the ground beef into a roasting pan, cook in the oven at 350 o breaking it up with a large spoon or a potaoto masher every 10 minutes to help break it up while it's cooking. It should take about 30-40 minutes. DO NOT overcook. The internal temperature of the meat should be 155F. When done, drain and package as above.