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Easy meat recipes for vegetarian to entertain with

Since I don't cook a lot of meat (I cook fish) and the one time I tried to cook chicken it was a failure beyond failures (baby chicken that would not turn white from pink and appeared raw while my husband ate it despite being in the oven forever), I need help in getting a dish together for my in laws. I need a recipe where you handle the meat very little and it comes out great. A let-the-ingredients-speak-for-itself type of recipe. I know this will probably cost me kindly, as they do.

MIL: Favorites are italian, chicken and (maybe) pork (as in, pork chops), simple food. Likes sweet potatoes, anything parmigiana. Probably likes cooked basil more than fresh type of gal. Dislikes: things that could be seen as exotic, new flavors, any asian (indian, thai, chinese could fly if very very mild). Doesn't like potatoes, mashed or otherwise.

FIL: Health nut, loves fish, will eat anything, with emphasis on health and fresh foods. He definitely will eat cheese, and seems to enjoy it, but he often speaks of how it's the epitome of bad health, clogging arteries, etc.

I've seen roasts on tv where they take the meat, tie it up, sear it, bake it, and slice. Something like that where I don't actually have to handle the meat too much would be great- then just need to come up with a good, crunchy fresh salad counterpart for myself and FIL. Bonus points for any menu with fish AND meat that isn't too fussy.

Thanks so much! I thought I'd do a trial run today if I get any good ideas. I apologize if this has been asked before, did a search and could not find.

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  1. Are you sure you want to do meat? I mean, you came into the family, I assume, as a vegetarian, and they have embraced you as DIL. Do fish, since you're comfortable with that, or eggplant Parmesan. I think it's very caring of you to want to make something that takes their tastes into account, but just cook them a wow vegetarian meal because it's who you are.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nemo

      That's my thought as well. What's wrong with a vegetable lasagne, for example? I'm a meat eater but I would never expect a vegetarian friend or family member to feel obliged to cook meat for me.

    2. I'm vegetarian, and my wife isn't, but she almost never cooks meat. One of her first forays into cooking meat was Thomas Keller's roast chicken method (lots of videos on youtube; the one from No Reservations is probably the simplest). You can get away without trussing it, but there still will be some potentially gross parts about prepping it. Anyway, she's found this method pretty bulletproof.

      1. Tenderloin of pork. Marinate it with olive oil, chopped rosemary, garlic, s&p. Wipe off marinade, pan sear and then put into 375 oven until temp reaches 145--instant read thermometer is best for this. Let rest ten minutes and then slice. Some might say taking it out at 145 will make it too well done but I'll bet MIL would leave the table if there was a hint of pink. Make a butternut squash risotto as the side and that can work for everyone.

        5 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          I like this suggestion too, and coming from a carnivore that runs at the sight of pink in pork I remove mine at 160 and let it rest for about 10 minutes. The temperature will peak at about 165 and you will still have a very moist and tender piece of pork. I like to baste mine every 15 minutes if I'm using a recipe that has more moisture. I'd check the temp at about 40 to 45 minutes.

          1. re: lilgi

            I'm thinking of one of those small, thin tenderloins not a loin of pork...my tenderloin would be hard and dry in 45 minutes. I picked it for this woman because it doesn't look like an animal, really needs almost no prep and doesn't need extensive carving.

            1. re: escondido123

              Got it, but I make the small tenderloins this way as well, so the difference here is that I've always made a couple tied together, but never have I had a problem with them being dry, it's cooked through but still moist.

              For the op if your tenderloin comes with string then you have 2 pieces there and the timing I posted is okay but much less for only one piece and Escondido is right you will have to check much sooner. I'd still go by the temp that I use, it will still be moist and tender but cooked through.

          2. re: escondido123

            escondido123, That sounds great! Just what I was looking for. I can do a great butternut squash risotto actually! Thanks! The thermometer is definitely something I need to get for piece of mind. Add some greens and done.

            1. Braised chicken thighs are really easy, just buy the thighs, brown them, add flavor components and a little liquid, then simmer a while until cooked through. It is possible to overcook braises, but I think you get a bit more leeway than with roasts, I do mine at a slow simmer for 45 min-an hour until the chicken is falling off the bone (or close to it). Here's an example that seems easy and Italian-ish for your MIL: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              1. if you insist on cooking something with meat, Ellie Krieger's Jambalaya with Shrimp & Ham would work - meat *and* seafood, nothing to prep that might make you squeamish, healthful for your FIL, and nary a potato in sight.
                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...

                another meat option would be Chicken Cacciatore served with polenta - you can buy pre-cut chicken pieces so you spare yourself the butchering.

                personally i think you should prepare something you'll actually EAT. in that realm...
                - seafood: cioppino or bouillabaisse
                - vegetarian: polenta with a hearty wild mushroom ragout, or eggplant rollatini

                9 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Thanks everyone for the comments. I hear what you are saying about cooking what I like, but the reality is my MIL is quite picky- Her limited diet is a source of a bit of aggravation between MIL and FIL. Plus, I would feel bad trying to teach someone a lesson about vegetables over dinner or to have her hungry at my home!!

                  The shrimp and ham would be too exotic for her, eggplant parmagiana is what she always makes for me, and she truly won't touch seafood, unless its fried. Don't want to serve a fried dinner, though it would be good, I'm sure. She doesn't care for mushrooms... Its a tough one! A roasted chicken is something I wish I could do, but I've come to terms with the fact that I just cant handle the chicken.

                  The pork I think will be fine, just tie it up , sear with tongs and be done. Who doesn't like rosemary, right?

                  So, how would I ask for the tenderloin at butcher? If serving 5?

                  1. re: arugala

                    A serving of meat should be 4 (small) to 6 (more generous) ounces. If your husband will take care of any leftover pork, I'd recommend 2 lbs of pork for 5 meat eaters.

                    1. re: babette feasts

                      I don't know if I've ever been able to get tenderloins large enough to make a full 3 1/2 pounds (I think closer to 3, at most 3 1/4) but she should have enough with other sides. With 4 of us (when I'm not cooking for more), we always had a small portion left over after generous servings, even with my older son inhaling it.

                        1. re: babette feasts

                          I'm used to cooking more that's why I mentioned it. I thought 2 pounds was a bit skimpy and was being polite. I'm sure you can get by with less if needed.

                          1. re: lilgi

                            Thank you for clarifying.

                            How many ounces do you allow per serving? 3-1/2 lbs for 5 people would be 11 ounces each. That's a lot of pork!

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              Theoretically it may seem so, but it cooks down a bit after juices get released and when you have considerably less pork it cooks down to nothing (imo). But I always have some leftover with the amount that I make (plus one that eats a ton of it). So in essence 3 1/4 is very comfortable for us and less would be just enough. But in any case this also explains why I'm comfortable checking temps at 40 minutes because I consistently get the same size tenderloins wrapped from my butcher, never any larger (or smaller for that matter). Italians almost always cook more food in general :)

                              1. re: lilgi

                                I see. I guess I was figuring tenderloin is pretty lean and you wouldn't lose much. But you obviously cook more of them than I do!

                    2. re: arugala

                      You can get two of the smaller tenderloins, spread garlic, rosemary, S&P between them and then tie the two together any way you want since you will cut away the twine afterwards. Just wrap it around, knot and cut then move on, maybe half a dozen ties in total should do it. When the pork is done, just cut away....I use scissors.