Freezer cooking with meat!

It was good shopping week last week–I found meat on clearance. I’d gone to a store not on my usual route, because they had chuck roast and pork steaks on sale for less than $2 a pound.

Less than $2 a pound is a good deal for meat, but not as good as less than $1 a pound.  When I found ground pork and ground beef on manager’s special for 99 cents a pound I changed my meat buying plans, cut back on on the roast and skipped the pork steaks entirely. Instead I bought 27 pounds of ground meat.

Yes, 27 pounds.

We like our protein around here, can you tell?

Plus, I have this chest freezer sitting our living room, and really, what’s the point of even having a chest freezer if you can’t buy 27 pounds of meat when you find an amazing deal?

Now, I could have just divided all the meat up into one pound portions and frozen them in sandwich bags like I normally do when I buy a three pound roll of ground beef… but that is entirely prosaic way to react to the meat explosion that is 27 pounds of meat.

(Okay, I’m breaking into my raptures for a moment to admit that to those of you who buy half a cow at a time, 27 pounds doesn’t sound like that much. But there are only two of us, and while I like the idea of buying entire sections of dead animal to eat, our grocery budget tends more toward the three pound roll of ground beef at Aldi.  Just imagine how much more I’d rhapsodize over half a cow worth of meat, and be glad it was only 27 pounds.)

I planned a freezer cooking afternoon. As  freezer cooking sessions go, it was low key, but I believe I did justice to my meat deal.

First, I put six pounds of ground beef in my large saucepot to brown. (In my head it will forever be the ‘oatmeal sized pot’ despite the fact that currently one batch of oatmeal in that pot would last us about two weeks, even if Colton liked oatmeal.) I’m glad I started with that, because it takes a long time to brown six pounds of ground beef. I stirred it every so often between other tasks, and by the time it cooked and then cooled, it was one of the last things I put away in the freezer.

Then, in my largest metal mixing bowl, I mixed six pounds of ground beef with four pounds of ground pork, plus eggs, oatmeal, onions and other meatloaf ingredients, and discovered that my very largest metal mixing bowl is not really (or is just barely, depending on how you look at it) big enough for making ten pounds of meatloaf mixture.

I only had two foil loaf pans, so I made five more small meatloaves on sheets of parchment paper, meant for cooking on baking sheets after thawing. Somehow I managed to pour ketchup topping over them, wrap them in slightly too small sheets of parchment paper, and stuff them two or three at a time in gallon freezer bags without making a huge mess.

With the rest of the meatloaf mixture I made over three dozen meatballs. I discovered that making meatballs and oven cooking them isn’t nearly as time consuming as I’d always somehow assumed making meatballs would be. But then, that might have just been in comparison to a full afternoon of freezer cooking…

I ran out of time that afternoon, so it wasn’t until the next day that I put five pounds of ground pork in the freezer for future testing of recipes such as this wonton soup with homemade wonton wrappers. I would say that will happen someday when I’m feeling ambitious, but really it will just happen someday after I borrow a pasta machine.

My last five pounds of ground pork (because you were counting and knew how many pounds were left, right?) I turned into sausage. Not sausages, though that would be really cool too, but just pork seasoned up without having to wonder what weird stuff was added for flavor. It turned out having a very mild italian sausage type flavor, and since I liked it, I’ll document the spice blend here for future reference.

2 TBSP sea salt

2 TBSP garlic powder

2TBSP onion powder

2 tsp black pepper

1 TBSP dried parsely

1 TBSP paprika

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp thyme

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