Monday, January 24, 2011
Pressure Canning Beef Chunks
Learning to can beef chunks was a fun experience. I put it off for quite a long time, pondering the best way to can it. I must have canned it in my mind 30 times before I actually got up the nerve to try it. I am so glad I did.
We had part of a beef in our freezer that we weren’t eating. Lots of steaks with not a lot of meat on them. Lots of roasts that had quite a bit of fat on them. Some were good, some not so good. Every time I opened my freezer, which as I have mentioned before is an ancient vessel, I would look at that meat and wonder what I was ever going to do with it. There was so little meat on the T-bone steaks that it would take several just to feed us a meal. I cringed just thinking about all that I would throw away. It wasn’t great meat, nevertheless, it was meat and I knew I had to do something with it.
Let me just skip to the ending of this long story to say that after pressure canning the meat it was awesome. Tender and delicious, easy to use and so handy to have on the shelf. I must say I wish I had done it much sooner instead of just thinking about doing it. It was hard for me to believe that this was the same meat that I had dreaded cooking before.
Watch for sales as you shop. Often, if you find beef you want to can and tell the butcher you want to buy a large quantity, you can get a better price. It's worth checking and watching the sales.
Here is the process I use. Considering my situation, if you are buying meat to can or have some you want to use, just get it done. It was very easy to do. In one day I had enough meat canned for many meals.
I did the steaks first. Thawed them in my sink overnight, as many packages as I thought I’d have time to do. In the morning, I cut the meat from the bones and removed any fat. My cats were a happy crew that day. I cut the meat in chunks and put it in a large kettle with a little water. After all the cutting was done, I cooked the meat, stirring it until the pink was gone and it was just starting to cook up.
I canned the beef chunks in quarts and pints using a beef bouillon cube in each bottle I used a slotted spoon to remove the chunks from the broth. If your meat is lean and you wish to save the broth, you can put it in jars and can it also, adding a beef cube to each pint or quart as well. (If canning the broth it helps to refrigerate broth overnight and remove fat in the morning before canning.) When the jars were filled almost to the neck with beef chunks, I filled each jar with boiling water, wiped the jars and put new flats and rings on. They are then ready to process in a pressure canner as per instructions, processing at 15 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.
With the roasts I canned, I cooked some in crock-pots, some in my roaster oven and some in my regular oven. I did about 10 roasts at a time. It was a big job but so good to have done. I roasted them until they were starting to get tender, cut or shredded the meat removing any bone and as much fat as possible. You can also cut the roasts in chunks and cook with a little water in a large kettle till pink is gone. Fill the jars and process as above.
This meat will be very tender and is great in stew or soup, ground up with pickles, celery and onion for sandwich filling, used in stroganoff, quesadillas or any casserole. Here is a fun, quick meal using your canned beef chunks. If you don’t have home canned beef chunks use leftover roast beef and prepare as directed.
1 bottle beef chunks, drained
Choice of sauce – Taco sauce, barbecue sauce or pizza sauce
1 c. shredded cheese, your choice – cheddar, pepper jack, or mozzarella
Flour or Corn Tortillas
Butter or olive oil flavored cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425º. Use a silpat or spray a baking sheet (line with foil for easy cleanup) with cooking spray. Shred beef until there are no large chunks. Combine beef with your choice of sauce (basically just enough to moisten your meat, you don't want it runny)and mix well; stir in cheese. Heat tortillas one at a time in the microwave (put between slightly damp paper towels if desired) until soft and pliable, about 20 seconds. Fill one tortilla at a time with about 3 T. meat mixture down the center of the tortilla. Roll tortilla as tightly as possible and place seam side down on baking sheet. Fill remaining tortillas. When all tortillas are filled and on the baking sheet, spray tops of tortillas with cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tortillas start to get brown and crispy on the edges. Serve with leftover taco, barbecue or pizza sauce or with Ranch dressing. *Note: these freeze very well. Bake them as directed; cool any leftovers completely and wrap individually in saran wrap and store in Ziploc freezer bags. To reheat, microwave until heated through or heat in the oven.