It is best to always cook more food than necessary. How good is it when you stumble in the door on a Monday night, exhausted. Then you remember you have pulled pork tucked away in the freezer? Pulled pork nachos anyone?
Not only that, but when your having a party the last thing you want is your guests fighting over food. So, I always you plan on at least 1.5 – 2 pounds per person for a meal.
If you have a cooking plan in place like this, you will always have lots of left overs, and lets face it leftovers always make the tastiest meals. Here is how to reheat and freeze your leftover meat, keeping safety in mind.
Freezing Leftovers 101
The most efficient way to store food for more than a week is in the freezer.
Food only loses a small amount nutrients and quality when it is frozen. However, if you keep it in the freezer for any longer than that you will find that the fat can get rancid, the surface can harden from freezer burn and meat can oxidise. This is especially prevalent with pork and seafood.
You will find that oxygen is the main problem, so use a vacuum sealer like the or ziplock bags. Make sure you always include the date on the bag and you add a little bit of sauce when freezing as it ensures your meat doesn’t dry out when reheating.
How to Freeze Pulled Pork
There is nothing like making a big batch of pulled pork, however, you might wonder whether you can freeze it?
Well, your in luck as long as your cool and if you freeze it correctly, it can last up to 4-6 months.
Step 1: Cooling The Pulled Pork
Allow the pulled pork and sauce to cool to room temperature.
Step 2: Packing The Pork
Transfer the cooled pork and barbecue sauce to zip lock, make sure to completely seal the bags to prevent any leakage. Always leave at least 1 inch at the top of the bag because you will find that the pulled pork mixture will expand as it freezes. Leaving space prevents the bag from splitting, which can leave a huge mess in the freezer.
Step 3: Mark The Bags
Ensure you write the date that the pulled pork was cooked the bag using a permanent marker.
Step 4: Freeze It
Place the bags of pulled pork in your freezer.
Step 5: Use By Date
Eat the pulled pork within four to six months from the date written on the freezer bag.
How To Freeze Cooked Ribs
Correctly preparing ribs to that tender and luscious richness can be time consuming.
If you like to prepare a big batch at once, you might wonder if you can freeze cooked ribs. Well the answer is yes. You will see below how to ensure they stay at their very best.
Step 1: Cooling the Ribs
After cooking your ribs you want to allow them to cool before packaging them. Put them on a wire cooling rack and let the air circulate. Once the ribs have cooled to room temperature they should be packed immediately.
Step 2: Packaging the Ribs
Once they have cooled cut the racks into 1/2 or 1/3 portions. Wrap each rack with cling film as tightly as possible and squeezing out as much air as possible, then place the ribs into freezer bags.
Step 3: Freezing the Ribs
Food retains texture best when it is frozen rapidly. The best way to freeze your ribs is in a single layer. It's often best to freeze the individual portions, then transfer the wrapped ribs to a heavy-duty zipper-seal bag once they're frozen.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken
Most of us, like to be over prepared when we cook for a crowd. You might wonder, what happens if I cook to much chicken, is it safe to freeze it?
I’m here to let you know you can!
Whether it is rotisserie chicken, fried chicken or just plain chicken breast. Fortunately, you don't have to let those extra grilled chicken pieces go to waste if you freeze them quickly.
Follow these steps to ensure you always have a tasty meal for those busy nights.
Step 1: Refrigerate The Chicken
Refrigerate the chicken after cooking. Decreasing the internal temperature of the chicken rapidly will help to keep the risk of contamination at bay. The longer you have the meat sitting out at room temperature the greater the risk of food-borne illness.
Step 2: Package The Chicken
Put the chicken pieces in a ziplock bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.
Step 3: Label Your Bags
Ensure you label the bag with the date it was frozen and put in the freezer. It will keep for up to three months, if you don’t use it by them throw it away.
Defrosting & Heating Meat Safety (This Is An Very Important One)
Adhering to food safety guidelines is paramount when it comes to defrosting meat.
Similar to freezing you want to ensure you have the process correct. You must ensure all your family and friends are consuming meat that hasn't had the chance for bacteria to multiply.
Below you will find out an outline of various meats and the various methods to defrosting them safety.
- Indoor Oven
Reheating Meat in An Indoor Oven.
First, ensure your meat is fully thawed. If you're going to use a sauce, spread it all over the meat.
Wrap your meat in two layers of foil, ensure you don’t have any holes in the foil.
Before you close it up add about 1/3 cup of water, this ensures your meat doesn't dry out. If you aren’t using sauce place a few ounces of stock or broth, water, apple juice inside the foil.
Place your wrapped meat on a tray and into a preheated oven at about 225°F.
You will find that the meat will shrink and get tougher at higher heats so bake in the centre of oven until you are reading 155°F in the middle of your meat.
You will find that ribs take about an hour and bigger cuts if the meat will take longer.
Reheating Meat in Your Microwave.
One of the advantages of using a microwave is convenience and speed.
You will find that the way microwaves cook differently from all other methods. Essentially they will steam your meat from the inside out.
To ensure the sauce doesn’t make a mess keep your meat inside the plastic wrap or a container.
You will get the best results if you portion each meal, rather than the whole dish. It’s faster and gives a more even result It is difficult to give precise times for microwaves.
Start with about a minute then let the meat to stand for 1 minute.
Take care when removing the lid or plastic wrap as the steam released may burn. Give you food the touch test to see if it hot enough before eating.
How To Reheat Meat on Your Grill.
Before you even start you need to get a high-quality thermometer.
Then you need to cover your meat with the sauce.
Heat your grill to about 225°F and keep your the lid closed.
If your using a gas grill, bake in the indirect heat zone in the foil until the centre of the meat has reached 155°F, you can then unwrap the meat and grill it on the direct heat zone for another 5-10 minutes on each side.
Ensure you watch the meat and it doesn’t burn.
How to Reheat Beef Ribs
People crave beef because it is so tasty. Although it’s more expensive than pork, we find that beef as it is so juicy, tender, and tasty (and worth those few extra dollars)
Like pork, there are different kinds of beef ribs, but the reheating methods are the same for all these types.
- Baby Back: These are the large bones that remain from a roasted rib cut. They are trimmed into single portions and very tender.
- Short: This is the rectangular rack of a rib that has been cut from the shoulder. It has layers of alternating fat and lean meat throughout.
- Flanked-Style: Although it is similar to short ribs, it is cut lengthwise, which makes it meatier than short ribs.
On The Grill
Step 1: Thaw the meat for 6-12 hours in the refrigerator. The time depends on the consistency of the cuts.
Step 2: Preheat the grill to 225-250°F.
Step 3: Remove the thawed beef from the bag and wrap it with aluminium foil.
Step 4: Put the wrapped ribs on the grill. Make sure that they are not directly on the fire.
Step 5: Heat until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 165°F. To make sure that the beef is reheated well, you can use a meat thermometer.
In The Oven
Step 1: Thaw the meat for 4-10 hours in the refrigerator. The time depends on the consistency of the cuts.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 225-250°F.
Step 3: Unwrapped the ribs and cover it loosely with aluminium foil. Add a 1/2 cup of water or broth to prevent the ribs from drying up during reheat.
Step 4: Put the ribs on a baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven.
Step 5: Wait until they reach a temperature of 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
Charlies Hot Tip:
The idea is to prevent the ribs from being overcooked, there we suggest you go for a very low-temperature heat.
How To Reheat Brisket
We suggest you only heat brisket in the oven.
In The Oven
Step 1: Remove the pulled pork from the freezer bag and cover the pan with foil and place it directly into a 325°F oven. It can take up to an hour to get warm enough for serving this way.
Step 2: Next, take your brisket and place it in an oven-safe baking dish.
Step 3: Pour in just enough beef broth to cover the bottom of the dish and then tightly wrap the dish in aluminium foil. We’re not only going to reheat this bad boy, but we’re also going to steam the moisture right back into it.
Step 4: Set the oven for 300°F and plan to reheat about 20 minutes or once the brisket reaches 140 internal, remove it from the oven, slice and serve.
How to Reheat Pulled Pork
To ensure you are able to reheat your pulled pork the best way, ensure you save the pan drippings. Saving your pan drippings the meat to retain as much moisture as possible when heating it
In The Oven
This is a more healthy method and may be a good option if you have huge amounts of pulled pork to reheat.
Step 1: This step is similar to the microwave method. Save the liquids in your drip pan after you finish smoking or cooking the meat.
Step 2: When you want to reheat, take it out of the freezer and you can pour in some BBQ sauce or apple juice mix it all together.
Step 3: Set the temperature to 250 °F. When it is heated, cover your meat with foil and put it into oven
Step 4: Let your pulled pork heat for 30 minutes or until reaching an internal temperature of 165 °F.
In The Microwave
Step 1: Ensure you retain the juices from original smoking or cooking of your pulled pork.
Step 2: After you take the meat out of the refrigerator for reheating the following day, you can add your original juice, BBQ sauce or apple juice or BBQ Sauce.
Step 3: Insert it into the microwave and set the timer for one to two minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F. You can check the internal temperature with a thermometer.
How To Reheat Pork Chops
You might find that some meats like pork chops always end up dried out and chewy when you reheat them.
Pork chops can be done in the microwave, however you will get the best results in the oven or stove.
Your best bet for moist leftover pork chops is to reheat them on the stove in a cast-iron skillet or by flash reheating in the oven, a method that requires reheating food quickly at a high temperature.
In The Oven
Step 1: Heat the oven to 450°F.
Step 2: Pour a few tablespoons of water or broth into the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish.
Step 3: Place the pork chops in liquid and cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
Step 4: Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the chops are warm. Remove the dish from the oven with mitts. Be careful when you peel back the aluminum foil to avoid steam burns.
In The Microwave
Step 1: Place the pork chops in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cover the chops with a clean, damp paper towel.
Step 2: Heat the chops at 50 or 60 percent power. Using full power will heat the chops up too quickly, rendering them dry and leathery.
Step 3: Microwave the pork chops for 30 seconds at a time. Check the chops by touching one quickly with your finger to make sure it doesn't overheat. The chop should feel warm under your finger at the center and at the edges.
In The Pan
Step 1: Heat a few drops of vegetable or olive oil in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet and heat to a high temperature.
Step 2: Place the chops carefully into the heated oil with kitchen tongs in a single layer. Reheat in several batches if necessary.
Step 3: Sear the pork for 2 to 3 minutes on each side to make the outside crunchy and warm the inside.
How to Reheat Steak (So It Actually Tastes Good!)
The biggest problem when reheating steak is that it can become dried out.
The main reason it usually dries out is that most people try heating up their steaks quickly instead of taking their time.
So, take a little extra time – and follow these helpful tips – to get your reheated steaks tasting how they should.
In The Oven
If your using the oven the reverse sear method is a good way to reheat steak in the oven. This does take some time so ensure you give yourself about an hour to heat them before you’re ready to eat! For this method, set your oven to 250°F.
Step 1: Once your oven is preheated, put the steaks on the middle rack and heat until they reach about 100 to 110°F. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
Step 2: Heat up a skillet with some butter or oil.
Step 3: Once the pan is warmed up and your steaks are out of the oven, sear them on each side for a minute or until browned.
In The Microwave
Reheating steak in the microwave should be your last resort when you done have much time. The trick is to save the juices from your cooked steak from the night before and store them in a freezer bag or airtight container with your leftover steaks in the fridge.
Step 1: Place your steak in a microwave-safe dish and pour the juices over them.
Step 2: Cover your dish with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Switch the heat to low or medium and heat in 30-second increments
Step 3: Checking constantly for correct temperature.
Step 4: If you reheat a steak in the microwave will quickly dry out your steak
Reheating Your Chicken
Freshly smoked chicken is moist and delicious, however after reheating, that succulent chicken often can become dry and tough if you do it wrong
No matter what reheating technique you choose, the most vital thing is to reheat the chicken safely. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
In The Oven
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Step 2: Line a baking tray with a large piece of aluminium foil.
Step 3: Place the chicken in the middle of the baking tray and wrapped the foil around it.
Step 4: Reheat the chicken until the internal temperature of the meat registers at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer.
In The Microwave
Step 1: Place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate or dish. Always put the largest, meatiest pieces towards the outside of the plate and smaller pieces in the center.
Step 2: Cover the chicken with a sauce or both, this will ensure the reheated chicken is moist.
Step 3: Place a piece of microwave-safe plastic wrap over the dish.
Step 4: Check your manufactures manual for the correct timing for reheating the chicken. Halfway thought then turn the pieces over and stir the sauce. Resume cooking until the center of the thickest piece of chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
Wouldn't it be amazing if reheated food tasted just as good as it did when it was freshly made?
I have asked myself this question a few times before. However, once you learn the correct techniques you can get pretty dang close to the first cook.
I also enjoy cooking with leftovers as it pushes you to be a little more creative. I would have never known how good pulled pork, guacamole and blue cheese quesadillas were.
I have managed to throw together some good combinations over the years. It also feels good to know you are not being wasteful and thinking about what you have rather than heading to the grocery store for the third in a week.
What's your best leftovers dish? Let me know we add it too our (ever growing) to cook list.