Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Budget Roast Beast & Grits

For some reason my Saturday morning channel surfing always seems to take me to NBC’s Today Show right when they’re doing “Chef on a Budget”. This is where a chef is competing against other chefs to make a family meal on a budget. A budget of $35! Who the hell can afford to spend $35 on one meal? And, for some reason it always ticks me off.

I love to eat. I love to eat just as well as I possibly can. And, I love to do it as inexpensively as possible. That’s why I’m the Cheap Bastid. But I’ve learned to come up with some things that are pretty delicious at the same time as they’re pretty frugal.

Let’s take 2 dinners last week. Carolyn and I ate these 2 dinners for a total of $7.40 plus the cost of a fresh garden salad including feta—so maybe a total of $8.50. Here’s how we did it:

I took a 2 ¾ lb “London Broil”, 1 ½” thick (which is bottom round) and slow cooked it for about 5 hours with potatoes, onion and carrots in a braising liquid of water, Worcestershire and soy sauce along with some garlic powder, dried rosemary and a couple of good squirts of habanero sauce. What Carolyn calls “Roast Beast.” This was slow-cooked until it was falling apart. Along with a salad of fresh green leaf lettuce, roma tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and feta cheese we were eating pretty well.

(photo from Google Images)

Now the total cost of the London Broil was $4.50 (I bought it on special at $1.60/lb).

Two nights later I was wondering what else I could do with a small sack of stone ground grits that I had purchased the previous week to make Charleston Shrimp and Grits and I came up with an idea of using them rather than shredded potatoes to make hash. I figured I could use the left over London Broil and make what I called “Grish” for grits & hash.

(Photo from Google Images)

So, I chopped up some red and yellow bell pepper along with a fresh jalapeno and some onion and a roma tomato. I shredded the left over London Broil and poured the beef juices off it into a bowl. Then I made a pot of grits and prepped a sauté pan. The beef went into the sauté pan along with the peppers and onions as the grits simmered over very low heat. I added the tomato and beef juices then tossed about a cup of shredded cheddar into the grits and stirred it until everything was smooth.

I put the grits on a plate as a base and ladled the meat and veggie mixture over top. Talk about some good eating! Creamy, cheesy grits. Juicy shredded beef, veggies with a hint of crunch left in them and the tang of fresh tomatoes. The only thing that might have made my “Grish” better would have been a couple of fried eggs on top of everything to make the ultimate “brinner”.

Now this might not be Jacques Pepin type of cooking but it was pretty tasty. Even better, it’s further evidence that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on groceries or go out to eat to eat well.

Let’s look at the budget.
Meal 1, the “Roast Beast” used about $2.50 worth of beef, $.50 worth of potatoes, carrots and onion and about $.20 worth of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Total cost: $3.20. And, add a buck for the salads, so total $4.20.

Meal 2, the “Grish” used about $2.00 worth of beef, about $.45 in grits, $.75 peppers & onions and $1.00 worth of shredded cheese. Total cost $4.20.

Plus, I strained the left over liquid from slow-cooking the London Broil and froze it so I now have 2 ice cube trays of beef stock/broth cubes for future cooking and adding flavor. And, I used the left over potatoes/carrots/onions to make “hash” patties. Sautéed in just a bit of oil they’re really tasty.

Nothing goes to waste and there’s a lot of good eating for under well under $10! Hey, the economy still sucks. Gas has gone up a buck a gallon in the last 6 weeks. There are still a lot of us who don’t have jobs. But, you can still eat pretty well just by doing a bit of planning and being creative!

So, call me the Cheap Bastid! But a well-fed Cheap Bastid.

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