Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Little Chubby

When you're on a budget it's hard to pass up inexpensive meat, especially when you can stretch a small amount into a family dinner. One of those odd things you'll find good deals on is turkey chub, which can be an affordable substitute for any unseasoned ground meat. This comes up because our local Safeway had a buy-one-get-one-free deal on them making them $1 per pound, so I've got some in the freezer now. You might see them in the meat department, but they are usually in the freezer section with pre-formed beef patties and frozen turkey breasts and such.

You may be thinking, "Okay, sounds good, but what is turkey chub?" Gee, I'm glad you asked!

"Chub" is the sausage-like packaging. You'll see ground beef in this kind of package too. Turkey is, well, turkey. A closer inspection of the package reveals that this is "mechanically separated turkey". Well. That doesn't sound very comfortable. Or appetizing. According to the USDA, mechanically separated meat is "a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones with attached edible meat under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue." They further note that beef processed this way is not approved for human consumption, but pork, chicken, and turkey are. Meat must be labeled "mechanically separated" if processed this way, I supposed so you don't think it's ground from identifiable parts. My friend Hez would probably say it's "reclaimed meat".

So you get past the name and forgive me for giving you way too much information on mechanically separated meat, and bring some home. If you're defrosting it in the microwave, remember to cut the little metal clips off each end of the chub first. It thaws pretty quickly: I can take one out in the morning and it will thaw in plenty of time for dinner, even in the fridge.

It really looks like gray-pink paste (actually, the color reminds me of the fish sausage Pikko uses to embellish her bentos). Throw it in a pan and brown it to crumbling like you would hamburger or ground pork, because it looks much better cooked. It doesn't have a strong turkey flavor, and this brand is lightly seasoned. What it doesn't have is the rich flavor you would expect with pork or beef, so I recommend adding it to anything you might use ground beef crumbles in. I've put it in spaghetti sauce, chili, casseroles, and even faked a stroganoff with it!

Don't be shy about this budget meat. Turkey is full of lean protein and this works great in all your stretching the budget type recipes!

Next blog: Something just as cheap (or cheaper) but less gross.


Anonymous said...

does the safeway near u still carry this? i don't see it here (san fran, ca)

Calthine said...

I haven't seen it lately either. I've been finding some great deals on marked-down Foster Farms ground turkey, though!

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