Friday, May 31, 2013

Freezer Tips (Chicken And Beef)

I am not big on freezer meals... not really sure why.  However there are a few things that I am planning on making to stash in my freezer so I wanted to compile a list of freezer tips to have on hand during this process.

Chicken Freezing Tips
Baked, grilled, or stir-fried chicken: Buy several pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Make four or five different recipes of marinades and rubs. Prick chicken several times with a fork to allow marinades and rubs to penetrate the meat. Package chicken according to your family's appetite.
Combine marinade and breast halves in labeled freezer bags. Seal bags, and knead the pieces of meat to circulate the marinade. Lay bags flat with pieces of meat side by side in a flat pan with sides. Marinate meat for desired time in refrigerator. Place pan in freezer; freeze bags flat. Remove frozen bags from pan, and stack in freezer. For kabobs or stir-fry, cut breast halves into cubes or strips, and follow the same instructions.
Cooked chicken for casseroles, wraps, chicken salad, etc.: Bring 2 whole chickens and enough water to cover to a boil in a large stockpot. Add 2 celery ribs, 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 4 garlic cloves. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 40 minutes. Remove chicken, and discard vegetables, reserving broth. Remove chicken from bones, and shred. Place 2 cups shredded chicken in labeled quart-size freezer bags. Seal and freeze. Strain broth, cool, and refrigerate. Freeze broth in airtight containers or freezer bags for soups and other recipes.
Ground Beef Freezing Tips
Economical and versatile, ground beef is excellent for investment cooking. Prepare meat loaves, hamburgers, and meatballs, and freeze them uncooked. Or cook the meat with onions and garlic, and freeze it to use as a base for other dishes. On cooking day, just heat the base and add other needed ingredients to create quick tacos, sloppy joes, or beef stroganoff.
Divide 15 pounds raw ground beef, chuck, or sirloin into 3 (5-pound) portions. Use one portion to make 3 (1 1/2-pound) meat loaves (using your favorite recipe); one portion to make 20 (4-inch) hamburger patties (try Sharon's Moroccan Hamburgers); and one portion to make small, medium, or large meatballs (for spaghetti, meatball subs, or meatball lasagna).
Meatloaf: Line loaf pan with enough foil to close over the top. Press meat loaf into pan; close foil, and place in freezer for several hours or overnight. Once frozen, remove from loaf pan. Seal tightly with foil, label, and freeze. On cooking day, remove the foil, and place frozen loaf in loaf pan to thaw and bake.
Hamburgers: Form patties, using the recipe of your choice, and place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Freeze until the patties are no longer soft in the center. (This is called "flash freezing," which will keep them from sticking together when put into the freezer bags.) Seal frozen patties in labeled freezer bags, and freeze. On cooking day, remove the desired number of patties to a platter. By the time the grill is heated, the burgers will be thawed enough to grill.
Meatballs: Make up meatball mixture using your favorite recipe. Form meatballs using an ice-cream scoop; place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Place sheet with meatballs in freezer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer frozen meatballs to labeled freezer bags, and freeze. On cooking day, brown meatballs, add sauce or gravy, and enjoy over rice or pasta.
Ground meat base: Cook 5 pounds ground beef in a large Dutch oven with 1 cup water, stirring occasionally until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in 2 onions, chopped, and 6 garlic cloves, minced. Cook until onions are tender, about 3 minutes. Cool and pack into 5 (1-quart) labeled freezer bags. Lay sealed bags flat in a pan with sides (this helps them keep their shape), and freeze for several hours. Remove frozen bags from pan, and return bags to freezer. On cooking day, heat the base, and add other needed ingredients to create tacos, sloppy joes, or beef stroganoff in 10 to 15 minutes.

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