Kitchen & Pantry

Meals in a flash, part 2

casaveneracion.com nilagang baka (beef) with potatoes and cabbageSome dishes are tastier the day after. It’s true with adobo, it’s true with kaldereta, it’s true with sarciado. In fact, it’s true with most stews. After sitting in the fridge overnight, the meat has more time to absorb the flavors of the sauce and that adds depth to the dish.

But the same thing cannot be said about soup dishes like nilagang baka. When reheated, the vegetables in the dish become soggy, if not altogether mushy. As with most Filipino soup dishes, nilagang baka is best served right after cooking when both the meat and vegetables are just right. Ergo, as a rule, it is best to cook nilagang baka that is just enough for one meal. But considering that it takes a long time (and fuel or electricity) to simmer nilaga-cut beef (eg. brisket, shank, shin, short ribs) to reach the perfect stage of tenderness, it just seems so wasteful.

What I do is to boil about three and a half kilos of beef at a time (usually good for three meals), divide the cooked meat and broth into three portions, add vegetables to one portion and store the other portions, meat with broth, in two separate tightly covered containers in the fridge. Two or three days later, I reheat the remaining portions, add vegetables and serve. That way, the vegetables are fresh.

casaveneracion.com nilagang baka (beef) with kalabasa (squash) and cabbageBut how long can boiled meat keep in the fridge without getting moldy? I try not to keep them for more than a couple of days. But if you freeze boiled meat with the broth, it will keep longer. Won’t that ruin the texture of the meat? No, so long as it’s just the meat is submerged in broth, and so long as you keep them in a tightly covered container. And remember to thaw everything before reheating.

You can do the cooking-meat-in-bulk technique for sautéed and stir-fried dishes. Note that freezing cooked meat only works for soup dishes, not for sautéed and stir-fried dishes.

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