Turkey, ham, and roast beef enjoy star attention during the colder months and holiday season; these are hefty meat dishes for family feasts. But for the moment, we're still normal cooks with our normal food budgets and our normal schedules who are just trying to get wholesome, tasty dinners on the table, and that means using meat wisely and carefully, for flavor and not always as the centerpiece of a meal.
Today, let's talk about ten dishes that make the most of meat and use it in smart, budget-friendly ways.
What does it really mean to "make the most of meat"? To me, it often means taking a less expensive cut, like beef shoulder or chicken thighs, and stretching it for many mouths (or many meals). Take a look at our recipes for shredded beef with polenta and our Moroccan tagine with chicken legs and thighs for recipes like this.
Making the most of meat can also mean using a small amount of a flavorful meat and using it as an accent to a meal. I love the way a single ham hock transforms a pot of beans into hearty Cuban Black Bean Soup and how just a few crumbled strips of bacon can make a pizza like the one we have here into an extra-special midweek meal. Just as satisfying are the little bites of chorizo in our otherwise lean soup of shiitake mushroom and chickpeas and the ribbons of prosciutto in a simple pasta bake.
There are lots of ways you can spin the idea of "making the most of meat" when it comes to weeknight dinners. Here are ten to get you started:
(Image credits: See linked recipes for full image credits)