Monday, February 22, 2010

Stretching A Dollar Brisket

When I was growing up, my mom knew how to stretch a piece of meat, as many people did in the 50’s – they were children of the great depression. My dad was a factory worker so we didn’t grow up poor, but we were far from wealthy, so making good use of resources was just a way of life. Little was wasted and things were repaired rather than being tossed and replaced with a new one. One of mom’s favorites was to buy a big piece of chuck roast for several meals. The first meal was pot roast with carrots and onions cooked in it, and almost always with mashed potatoes and gravy (from the pan juices). The next meal would be hot roast beef sandwiches with any leftover potatoes and veggies – this only required the addition of bread for another meal. If there was still meat left, it would be diced and go into a pot with newly added diced potatoes and onions, covered with water and made into a soupy concoction she called hash (imagine my confusion the first time I was served real hash). This was served in a bowl or in my case over bread slices. I wouldn’t swear to it, but there may have also been a cold roast beef sandwich for lunch in there as well. Needless to say, she had bought a pretty big roast and likely paid a quarter per pound or less for it.

I wasn’t necessarily trying to accomplish this with the brisket I smoked the other day, but now that it’s about gone, our usage of it brought back these memories. First it was made into brisket chili for dinner, then a bowl for lunch twice, then the chili shepherds pie and finally chili pie made our normal way Link – pour cornbread batter into dish, top with chili and bake, allowing the cornbread to float to the surface – I suggested we just finish the chili off as soup, but Bev said she loved chili pie and so it happened. I have to admit, it’s pretty hard to beat. I probably paid $20 for the piece of brisket at Sam’s Club and for the two of us (Alex won’t eat tomato sauce dishes), we’ve had about 9 meals and there are at least 2 servings of chili pie for lunch or dinner today – fortunately we’re good leftover eaters, but I think I’m good on chili for a while. Here’s a pic of the chili pie for this go round.

As the economy staggers around and we’re unsure where things will be in the near future (and already now for some), I worry that there are way to many in the generations after us Baby Boomers who have no concept of how to function like this and I sure hope they don’t have to find out. That’s my philosophizing for the day.

Remember the mashed potatoes and potato cakes I did a few days back, well there was just enough potatoes left the other day for one more big cake – two smaller ones would have been easier to keep together. I had to turn it into a breakfast meal so I had it with a couple of sunny side up eggs sitting on top of one of Bev’s mini buns and melted cheese. Somewhere along the line, someone did a great job of convincing me breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

It was so nice here yesterday that I actually had the front door open for a couple of hours - but the weather person says winter will be back in a day or two. Have a great day and I enjoy your comments.



  1. Pot roast and leftovers were a weekly staple at our house. Love those cold roast beef sandwiches and my mom always used Miracle Whip for those. I too have parents who lived during the Great Depression. Nothing wasted.

    That breakfast looks amazing. Perfect eggs!

  2. Larry, I like the way your mother thought. All three of those meals were filled with nourishment, as well as love.

    Looks like you have followed in her footsteps, because all of your leftover meals are the same.

    I tried your fried mash potato/eggs last week with some leftover twice baked potatoes... boy was it good.

    Many thanks for your words of wisdom...

  3. You are so right about the younger generation. I am shocked and saddened by the waste and frivolity that I see in many of them. I'm from your generation, and I use up every scrap of what's in my fridge and pantry.

  4. Larry, I too had parents that survived the depression and grew up watching Mom economize for a large family. Roast beef was a treat and I love cold roast sandwiches to this day. Very nice post.

  5. We are definitely eating more leftoverrs at our house since so many of us are tightening our belts. You definitely have me drooling looking at the sunny-side up eggs!

  6. I love how you talk about how well your mom got the most efficient use out of meal ingredients. My mom was the same way. Looking back, I am amazed at how she kept us fed so well on a railroad man's salary.

  7. My family has always made good use of leftovers too. In fact they say my leftovers taste even better!

    Be sure to stop by my blog sometime soon Larry. I have an award waiting for you!


I appreciate and enjoy your comments