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May 13, 2014 02:36 PM

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.