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Low-maintenance meat entrees

My husband works long hours and is also working toward an MBA, so he has essentially zero spare time. I have time to devote to cooking dinner every night, but here's the catch - I'm vegetarian and he's not. I don't mind cooking meat for him as long as there's minimal contact involved with it - no browning, no rubs, nothing like that. There are a few recipes in our arsenal that work, and they tend to be stew/braise-like in nature, where you just dump the meat into a pot that's already got some veggies and sauce going. Can anyone suggest some recipes that would fit that bill? They don't need to be quick, just hands-off when it comes to the meat.

Thanks in advance for keeping my husband from getting bored to death of the tiny handful of things I can make for him.

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  1. At many grocery stores you can buy meat, poultry and fish of various kinds that has already been seasoned/
    marinated. Some of them can just be put into a hot oven and cooked until done. The only "touching" involved is opening the package and putting it onto a baking sheet -- and you can use tongs for that.

    1. 1) Put a split chicken breast in a foil-lined pan and bake it for an hour at 350*. 2) Put a boneless skinless chicken breast in a baking dish and cover it with the contents of a can of cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup or a jar of chicken gravy, and bake for an hour at 350*. 3) Put leg-thigh combos of chicken in a baking dish, pour on a can of crushed pineapple, and sprinkle generously with soy sauce and garlic powder. Bake for an hour at 350*. Serve with rice. You can do any of these barely touching the meat with your hands---use a fork to put in it the pan or dish.

      1. Have you ever made Italian wedding soup? Ina Garten has a recipe, and so does Giada. Just check online. You can make the soup with vegetable broth, so you can enjoy it, and just add prepared precooked meatballs, available at Trader Joe's or Costco.

        7 Replies
        1. re: critter101

          You can also make a nice vegetarian tomato sauce for pasta, then put half in another pan and add the meatballs to heat up. Serve both with cheese.

          1. re: escondido123

            Thank you all for the suggestions. As some mentioned, he does generally set aside some time on the weekends to cook a big batch of something that can be reheated, but that only goes so far. He takes leftovers to work for lunch as well, so between that and weeknight dinner, even one day of cooking won't cover that. Fortunately, he's fine with eating vegetarian with me a few times a week. His mom has a recipe for Szechuan tofu that makes him as happy as anything meaty.

            Also appreciate the pre-marinated/spice-rubbed suggestions, but as I've been a vegetarian since I was a teenager, I simply don't know how to cook meat. His work schedule is unpredictable enough that I can't count on him being home in time to check on a dish to make sure it's properly done. (And I won't be responsible for a burned steak!) Hence the stew-like dishes, which he tells me are fairly forgiving in terms of being overcooked.

            1. re: guenevere51

              all you need for those pre-marinated roasts is a thermometer - set oven for assumed time - tempp/hrs/pound should be on the label - and double check near done time for temp - you should be able to find a chart in a basic cookbook or via google too

              you can make a pork loin this way keeping meat at arms length as they are seasoned, trimmed and ready to go - no more involved than dumping in the crock pot but will add some variety.

              1. re: guenevere51

                Steak is not something you would bake in the oven. We are suggesting meats that can be baked in the oven. Does you husband come home and expect dinner on the table within 5 minutes of his arrival? If not, you can have the oven up to temp and the meat at room temp and can put it in when he gets home (or calls and says he's on the way) and then he can check it for the right temp at the end. Should be no big deal if he needs to eat meat.

                1. re: escondido123

                  I make swiss steak, goulash, chicken fried steak and other steak dishes in the oven all the time. No, they are not rare to mid rare but then these dishes are not meant to be.

                  If the op can handle slicing up a steak, it's easy to do a quick stir fry on the stove top..sauté your veggies, remove from skillet. Quickly cook the steak, add veggies back and add sauce of choice. 15-20 minutes tops. For a carb, serve with rice, noodles or quinoa.

                  Do you own a slow cooker? If so, you can do a lot of hands off meats and not have to worry about over cooking. I did a pork loin roast in mine last week and it was falling apart tender; all I did was season it, sear it on all sides in a skillet then put it in the slow cooker with some chicken stock, onions & garlic for 8 hours. Plenty of recipes online for slow cooker dishes.

                2. re: guenevere51

                  Here's one you can do in the oven and it makes a lot---Fake Chicken & Dumplings. In a large deep baking dish put two boxes of frozen pierogies, the kind with mashed potato inside, and several boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into large chunks (sorry about the touching here but you could wear rubber gloves). Cover all of this totally with chicken stock poured from a carton. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350*.

                  1. re: guenevere51

                    Surely a grill would be the thing. He could grill his own steak etc to his own taste and you wouldn't have to touch it. Meanwhile the slow cooker is your friend. Also, get an instant-read thermometer---mine is a Polaner, works perfectly---so if you have a piece of meat in the oven, there is no guesswork, just insert the thermometer to see if it's done.

              2. Maybe he could spend some time prepping some meats in rubs, marinades, etc. and vacuum sealing them to be frozen so that part would already be done. It would give him a lot more options. As much as I love a good braise I'd be sick to death of just soft stewed meats if that's the only texture I ever got.

                Marinated steaks that could be broiled, grilled or cooked stove top in a grill pan or cast iron skillet, rubbed roasts that could be roasted (dry in the oven instead of slow cooked in liquid,) meatballs, burgers, etc. In an hour or less he could prep a few weeks worth of meats that could then be rotated through the menu (half a dozen steaks, a couple of roasts that could be cooked and pulled for various types of salads/ sandwiches/ mains, a whole big batch of meatballs or burgers to be divided into meal sized portions.)

                5 Replies
                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  I think your suggestions are excellent. I had kinda like the same 'gut' reaction...a lot of 'mushy' meat :)

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Minimal contact with a man's meat is a deal breaker....

                        1. re: fourunder

                          Or a woman's :) But, really, I respect OP for just throwing it out here. And pretty amazed at some good suggestions.

                2. If you have a propane or charcoal grill, you could get it going on a Sunday, grill some veggies for both of you, then turn it over to him to grill burgers (buy pre-formed), steaks (he can season/rub), and chicken parts (tong into ziploc full of marinade beforehand). Sausages and fish optional. The meats can be easily re-heated during the week.

                  Requires some time input from him but he can read textbook in a chair by the grill. Also, some loss in quality but might be worth it for him to have his meat.

                  1. Oh how I miss "Chicken by George" from Hormel!

                    1. Roast chicken legs are a low maintenance option. Put skin on legs on a tray, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, put in the oven and bake until the meat is done and the skin crispy. For alternate seasonings, you can sprinkle with curry powder, or chili powder, or whatever else seems like a good idea.

                      With decent quality meat a roast can be very simple but also quite tasty. I'll roast pork shoulder with the skin side up long and slow, or pork tenderloin until just done. Then let it sit for a few minutes, and slice. I'll serve it with mustard, or pesto, or tomato and onion jam, or some tomato sauce, or leftover cranberry sauce, or horseradish. The bonus here is that you get a couple of meals out of a single chunk of meat. Ham or roast beef would work well too.

                      Would a marinade be okay? One I really like is to take a chicken pieces and marinate them in olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lots of fresh ground black pepper, and a bit of salt. They go straight from the marinade onto the grill or into the broiler.

                      Pot roast is an option - take a chunk of meat, put it in a casserole dish, maybe with some sauteed onions, or some mushrooms, pour a bit of wine over it, cover, and cook slowly. The meat ends up tender, but isn't quite at stew-like, and the pan juices + wine + vegetables make a good sauce.

                      For seafood, fish fillets en papillote are easy. Take your piece of fish and put it on a piece of foil or parchment paper. Salt and pepper, add a bit of vegetables (some thinly sliced mushrooms, onion and carrots, for example, or zucchini and herbs), a little bit of olive oil or butter, and a squeeze of lemon juice and/or splash of white wine, wrap up, and shove in the oven.

                      1. Cook your stews in large batches, then freeze in meal-sized portions. That way you can get the cooking over with and still have meat-based meals. Chili, beef bourginon, curries all freeze and thaw ok.

                        1. Consider beer cooler sous vide. Basically, put the meat in a food savor bag or zip top bag, get rid of all the air, and put it in a cooler of hot water at the final cooking temp you want. Hold it there for an hour or two (talking thin cuts of meat) until to the desired temperature. If he wants it seared for color, it would take him a minute or two to do so.

                          I would post a link, but technical difficulties are happening here, so beer cooler sous vide serious eats in your google machine would be my recommendation. Good Luck!

                          1. Afraid I don't have a recipe for you but a suggestion...latex/free gloves. I was thrilled when I discovered boxes at Costco. They come in so handy when I have to skewer cold, marinated meat; hate getting my hands messy!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ceekskat

                              Totally agree! I keep boxes around and always use them when prepping the man's meat. I was a vegetarian from high school until a few years ago, and even now I only have Thanksgiving turkey once a year and a couple bites of steak when I get a craving (every other month or so).

                              Note to OP: Don't ever ever ever go near ground chicken or turkey. Easily the most vile animal product I've ever experienced. Almost made me puke having to prep some recently.

                              The gloves are great for transferring chicken or steaks from their packages, or rolling meatballs or forming hamburger patties. I still wash my hands well after taking them off, but that extra layer between me and the meat is super helpful.

                              Steaks are far less terrifying/disgusting to me for some reason. You don't have to worry about cooking them "safely" as you do with chicken, and if you buy decent quality meat, it's bound to turn out tasty. Make friends with your grill or even a cast iron grill pan for the stovetop.

                              Agree you should get a meat thermometer and print out a chart to keep handy so you know what the internal temps should be.

                              When I open a pack of chicken breasts, I divvy them into Ziploc bags (using gloves of course). I freeze what won't be used immediately, the others go in the fridge. You can then just dump marinades into the bag and close it back up--an easy one is just some olive oil, vinegars and/or lemon juice, garlic, and herbs (and s + p). When it comes time to cook, just dump the chicken out, or use gloved hands to place it on the grill/pan. If I don't marinate, then I'll just season liberally while it's cooking. I refuse to rub chicken :)

                              This method of cooking chicken has taken away my fears. It's super easy and quick enough to do once my man gets home. Every single breast I've done this way has turned out juicy and cooked through, even when I've overcooked. You can do it without the flour. The chicken is also neutral enough to be sliced and turned into anything--add to tacos, pasta, a sandwich, salad, or just eaten plain: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-...

                            2. Tyson's and others package some grilled sliced chicken strips in a freezer bag and fresh in the meats section too. You just make a vegetarian dish (like a stir-fry) and add the pre-cooked, sliced chicken to warm through.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                i use these chicken "short cuts" during busy weeks. i esp. like to use them in the sharwood's curry sauces -- both thai and indian. they are high quality, and make a quick meal delicious too.

                                they also work well when i toss them into a cooked pot of zatarain's low-sodium jambalaya rice, or some goya yellow rice, along with a bit of sliced red and yellow bell pepper..

                              2. Fish. Either on the grill or in a skillet stove top. Have your fish monger skin it for you so you don't have to handle it except for putting in the pan or on the grill, turn once and done. Serve with various compound butters.

                                1. As a fellow veggie i soooo understand what you mean! (Only i would never cook the meat....)

                                  What about those chicken sausages? I've seen them in a bunch of flavors and i'm fairly certain you can just flop them in a pan to sear and reheat since they are already cooked (which means you can't really screw up cooking them!) maybe with tomato sauce over pasta, in a sandwich, or just with some roasted veggies.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    "Those chicken sausages" are great! I buy at TJs, Whole Foods and Wegmans.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        I know! I don't eat it myself, just thought it would be easy to prepare those sausages with minimal touching/prepping/room for user error....

                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                          Funny, I actually just did a sausage recipe last night. Was from a Spanish one-pot cookbook, involved tomatoes, pasta, onions, paprika, thyme, white wine... he really liked it. And yep, I did break out the rubber gloves.

                                          A few years ago I never would have considered cooking meat, but I guess I file this under things I do for love.

                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                            Actually, T, I thought about this after I posted. Sausages with their casings might seem 'safer' for OP.

                                      2. Have you considered rubber gloves and a surgical mask? Or maybe a hazmat suit?

                                        1. If he bakes half a ham on the weekend he can eat it for about two weeks: sandwiches, ham & eggs, ham & baked sweet potato, ham & scalloped potatoes (from a box), ham & canned baked beans, ham pieces with canned pineapple chunks, soy sauce, and garlic powder, etc ad infinitum. Then the ham bone makes a big pot of bean soup for another week of eating.

                                          5 Replies
                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              He loves ham but tires of it very quickly, unfortunately. Another one of his quirks that makes this whole process tough. And I know a few people have suggested seafood, but he doesn't like most seafood.

                                              1. re: guenevere51

                                                I don't love ham so I would find that a pretty not-good ingredient.

                                                1. re: guenevere51

                                                  Ham fatigue sets in pretty quick for many of us. I like ham, but it's a pretty one-dimensional meat.

                                              2. re: Querencia

                                                or, he could bake the ham, set some aside for the next day, and then dice/slice and wrap the rest to freeze -- in SINGLE servings, for another day.

                                              3. Flank steak is your friend. You can throw it into a bag with marinade (Asian is nice) and keep in the fridge overnight. Come home from work and throw it on the grill for 8 to 10 minutes (turning once). Let it rest briefly, slice against the grain, you're good to go!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: perk

                                                  Steak dinners in general; she can prep and cook all the sides, make salad, and husband can cook the steak. No harm, no foul.

                                                2. I have used this generic recipe for years. In a large dry slow cooker crock put 1/2 cup flour and any other dry ingredients. Stir in an 8-oz can tomato sauce so it doesn't lump then stir in a few cans of water. Dump in a pound of meat (beef stew meat, boneless chicken breasts, lamb stew meat). Add any other solids (see below). Adjust liquid depending on what you are making. Cover and cook for hours until done. 1) Beef stew: beef, onions, potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, salt. 2) Curry: beef, lamb, or chicken, onions, a bag of frozen peas, curry powder, garlic powder., salt. 3) Beef Burgundy: beef, a package of dried onion soup mix, no other salt, mushrooms, wine. 4) Carbonade Flamande: Beef, onions, portobello mushrooms, 2 cans of beer. 5) Goulash: beef, onions, paprika. 6) African Chicken: chicken breasts, peppers, tomatoes, hot red pepper, a little peanut butter. You always start with the flour and tomato sauce then bend the mixture any way you want. No browning of meat. This works and you always end up with a big pot full of stew-y dinner.

                                                  1. This is my quick go to chicken recipe that was passed onto me by Chowhound. Can be used with thighs or drums too. I have done in a dish on the bbq or in oven. Very tasty, leftovers are delish and completely hands off except getting the chicken in the pan. You could also make extra tomatoes in a separate pan for yourself and have it overtop of a something like potatoes, polenta or quinoa. Have also used sage or basil in a pinch instead of marjoram


                                                    1. what if you just picked up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store? He can carve it or shred it himself. Provide tortillas, beans etc and you could have taco night that satisfies him and you. or you can make falafels and provide pitas, and other filings and he could have gyro/shawarma sandwich. With leftover chicken, you could make chicken salad or add bbq sauce.