Someone left a comment in an earlier post, asking me about my go-to recipes for using the foods I can. I have been thinking about it and have come to the realization that I don't have recipes as such. As a dedicated carnivore, my main meals usually have meat of some sort as the base, which is why I like to can as much meat as possible. Unless I have company for a meal, I usually go with quick and easy. Canned meat is fully cooked and as such lends itself to all sorts of applications. The best I can do here is tell you what I can and how I use it.
I have more chicken breast on my shelves than any other kind of meat. That is because it is one of the less expensive meats and local stores run sales fairly often. And because I like it. I usually cut the chicken into one-inch pieces to can. Here is how I use it:
Often I will combine a jar of chicken with a jar of mixed vegetables and a jar of broth (or broth made with chicken bouillon). I add dehydrated onion and parsley and whatever seasonings sound good to me. Heated, that makes a good soup. Or I might make dumplings, either from scratch or using Bisquick, and drop those on top of the soup for Chicken and Dumplings. Or I might make biscuits, thicken the soup to a gravy-like consistency for Chicken and Biscuits.
Sometimes I shred the chicken and heat it with barbecue sauce for hot chicken sandwiches. Or I will take the shredded chicken, add some mayo, onion and pickle relish for cold sandwich spread.
Canned chicken can be used in any casserole recipe calling for cooked chicken.
I am not opposed to having a few convenience foods on my shelves. I can get large bags of Stove Top Stuffing at my grocery, and I divide that into meal sized portions to store. I will make up a portion of the stuffing and stir in canned chicken. That, served with a vegetable or salad and some cranberry sauce makes a good meal.
Sometimes I use the chicken cubes in a cold macaroni salad - kind of like a tuna salad only with chicken.
One of my favorites is to make a sweet and sour sauce with pineapple chunks, add the chicken cubes and serve it over rice.
If I get to Sam's Club, they carry fresh chicken breast for a reasonable price. Those chicken breasts are huge - one piece is more than enough for two people. I will cut that chicken into large chunks for canning. To use it, I will often just empty a jar into a pan, top with barbecue sauce and heat it in the oven. That makes a good meal with a baked potato and a salad or with a plate of potato salad. I will also top the chicken with stuffing and bake it until it is heated through. It is good that way with a vegetable and maybe some cranberry sauce.
Now and then, whole pork loin goes on sale, and I will buy as much as I can afford. I always cut maybe half of one loin into boneless pork chops and freeze them. The rest I cut up the same as the chicken breast for canning and use it pretty much the same way. It is a nice change of taste from chicken, especially using it for pulled pork sandwiches.
I can some beef in large chunks to use like a beef roast. A couple of years ago I canned chunks of potatoes and carrots together in quart jars. I will dump the beef into a pan, surround it with the contents of a quart of potatoes and carrots, add thick slices of onion and bake it until it is heated through and the meat is slightly browned. That makes a good roast beef Sunday dinner.
I use a lot of the smaller beef cubes for beef stew. I had previously canned cubed potatoes, carrots and peas together in quart jars. So I will combine the beef and vegetables, adding a pint of canned diced tomatoes and some dehydrated onion and maybe a bit of parsley along with some beef bouillon or beef soup starter for flavor. Just a basic beef stew. Sometimes I will serve it plain with homemade bread or sometimes I will have it over biscuits.
The small beef cubes are good used to make restaurant style hot beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy.
I recently canned the meat from six bone-in hams, cutting the meat and canning it the same as with the other meats. The large chunks can be used the same as if I were making a traditional ham dinner.
The small chunks can be used the same as many of the chicken dishes. I also use them to add to scalloped potatoes.
I think that is enough for this post. I will do another about some of the other foods that I regularly can. There are those who prefer to freeze meat and I do that, too, freezing enough for about a months worth of meals. But should I lose power for whatever reason, the frozen meat runs the risk of going bad should it thaw. There is also the problem of freezer burn. I find that the home canned meats will last for years if kept in a fairly cool, dark place. And for someone like me who lacks the patience and inclination to cook fancy meals, the canning solution works well.
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