Friday, August 16, 2013

Browned meat with Beans (and no time...)

In a post last week, I described the situations in which I might used precooked browned meat.  

I then promptly hit the trifecta... 

I was delayed on a job, and got home late. With a (very mild) migraine. And I had a container of cooked beans in the refrigerator... which could be the basis for dinner, but were not, alone, enough. 

But, I had my cooked meat with onions...

I broke off a chunk, and dropped it in a pan.(I didn't even bother to heat the pan first...)

If I'd been more together, at this point I might have added any spices, such as cumin, or hot pepper, which I might want to heat. This time, I didn't bother...

I poured in the beans, and bean cooking liquid.

I routinely cook enough beans for more than one meal, so I have some to use later. This time, as you see, I was using up odds and ends... (OK - so, I could claim this is my Three Bean Special. It was odds and ends dumped in the same jar until I had enough to use... This time - kidney, navy, and garbanzo beans... maybe a couple of pintos?)

If I were using canned beans, which would work just fine, I'd drain them and rinse them off. The starches that accumulate in the can are one of the causes of... um... digestive disturbances, shall we say... for some people. I'm never bothered by beans I cook myself, but I sometimes have trouble with canned beans - one reason I usually cook my own. I do find that cooking them a little longer, not just heating them up, also helps prevent problems.

If I were using canned beans, I'd also add a little water - I want it just a bit soupy, to begin with, because I'm going to simmer it all a bit, and I don't want it to stick.

I sat down for a few minutes, while it heated, and the meat thawed.

I then cut up a yellow summer squash, and tossed it in, and let it all cook for about five minutes, until the squash was just tender. (I sat down...)  I also had a small container of some broccoli rabe from dinner the day before - I tossed the cooked greens in. Then I just stirred it together until everything was heated up, and served over rice I had handy (Yes - I cook enough brown rice for 2-3 meals at a time, also - it heats up beautifully in the microwave.)

I had Rich take pictures every time I stopped (and sat down a minute...) while that step cooked. Neither of us remembered a picture of the plated food. It wasn't, to be honest, particularly pretty - though not bad, with the green and yellow  vegetables - but it tasted awfully good for something that was ready in 15-20 minutes - including breaks for the cook to rest...

I could still, of course, write this up as a Recipe - but that isn't the point. The point, here, is cooking within the constraints you face. What time and energy do I have? How much cooked or canned beans do I have? What's a vegetable that will take little or no effort? I have the frozen cooked meat...

How would your family like it?  Would it need to be something recognizable - say, chili - for them? In which case - chili powder in the pan with the meat,  kidney or pinto beans, a can of tomatoes added with the beans, and other veg on the side. Not your Prizewinning Chile Recipe - but something fast the kids will eat...

Or - skip the beans, use more meat, add a jar of decent commercial  pasta sauce. I'd go ahead and add the squash and rabe (though I'd chop the greens a bit more) and serve it over pasta. We always have a jar or two of commercial sauce in the pantry, just in case... though I usually make my own, when I have time and energy.  (We often have a container or two of that in the freezer - but not always.)  If I didn't have the jarred sauce (or didn't want to use one) I'd use plain canned diced or crushed tomatoes, and crush  in some basil and oregano. Like the "chili" - not exciting, not as much flavor as I'd usually like, but it works.

Or...  What would you do with something like this,  for your family?

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