Friday, November 6, 2009

Lunch Special

When was the last time you had a real chicken sandwich?  Was Easter your most recent taste of ham “off the bone”?  Did you know you could make inexpensive roast beef sandwiches from an easy-to-slice eye round at home?

A Harris Poll completed last month reports that 47% of us are saving money this year by brown-bagging more.  The number has held firm since at least last June.  One of the best ways to increase the “pure quotient” in those lunches is to replace sodium-rich processed cold cuts with meats you make easily yourself from high quality larger cuts. 

Planned leftovers like chicken, turkey, ham, pork and beef make the best sandwich meats and are less expensive than pre-sliced cold cuts.  Your family will also benefit from less handling by others as well as lower sodium content.  Bake a few extra chicken breasts with dinner tonight and thinly slice the leftovers tomorrow for a tender sandwich with lettuce and tomato. In the summer, we stuff these with basil leaves for a sublime midday meal.  Chicken breasts normally sell in my area for about $1.49/pound.  Last week they were $1.29.  I stocked up, cooked some and froze the rest in 2-4 piece servings. 

Holiday hams are going on sale soon and many supermarkets run promotions that earn you a ham or turkey.  Leftover turkey sandwiches are a natural after Thanksgiving but often forgotten the rest of the year.  Stash a sale-priced turkey breast or ham in the freezer for a future meal followed by a week’s worth of sandwich fixin’s.   Large sizes can be cut into smaller portions before freezing so small families can take advantage of this pure technique.

Look for sales on pork loin, pork tenderloin and lean cuts of beef like eye round.  Buy a slightly larger size and after you enjoy the roast for dinner you can thinly slice the cold meat for sandwiches.  Here’s how to cook an eye round for rare roast beef and a few nice sandwich combos to try out this month.

Eye Round Roast Beef
2 –3 pound eye round
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450˚ and remove meat from refrigerator to allow it to take the chill off while oven preheats.  Lightly grease a roasting pan with a thin coating of oil.   Pat any excess moisture from meat and place in roasting pan.  Coat the top and sides of beef with mustard and cover mustard with black pepper.  Place pan in preheated oven than immediately reduce temperature to 325˚.  Roast until beef reaches an internal temperature of 140˚ for medium rare, 135˚ for a bit more rare.  Remove roast and allow ti to rest undisturbed for at least 15 minutes before slicing. 

A 2-pound roast will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes but begin checking with an instant read thermometer after 1 hour. (Meat will continue to cook and final temperature will increase as meat rests.)

Sandwich combos that will leave your co-workers hungry for pure food too:

  • Roast beef with horseradish-Greek yogurt-mayonaise dressing on an onion roll
  • Sliced pork, Swiss cheese, relish or chutney (try Major Grey’s) on a baguette
  • Sliced chicken breast with mayonnaise spiked with dried dill and basil on whole grain
  • Ham with mustard and apricot jam (1 teaspoon of each) on rye
  • Turkey, avocado, fresh cilantro and lettuce in a flour tortilla wrap-salsa optional.