Our Best Tips for Putting Overcooked Meat—Including Chicken, Lamb, and Beef—to Good Use
Whatever you do, don't let food go to waste.
We've all experienced the let down that comes with overcooking a cut of meat for dinner. Rather than discard it completely, certain cuts of meat can be repurposed into an entirely new dish. Take lamb shoulder, for example—if you overcook it, save it for dinner the next night and braise it with red wine for a rich stew with vegetables. If you overcook short ribs, Chef Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn in New York City says that's the perfect opportunity to make a delicious boeuf bourguignon or ragu sauce.
Dark meat chicken such as thighs and legs are generally very fatty and forgiving, which means they're less likely to overcook. Lean chicken breasts, on the other hand, can go from perfectly juicy and flavorful to tough and chewy within minutes. If that happens, save the chicken and shred it for homemade chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or homemade chicken noodle soup. A touch of mayonnaise, warm chicken broth, or a rich and creamy pot pie filling will help to give the meat a second life.
Repurpose overcooked lamb in this speedy braised recipe for Rosemary-and-Garlic Lamb Chops. The meat cooks with herbs, tomato paste, red wine, and chicken broth for 10 minutes, which will rapidly revive any dryness. Or try giving tough lamb shoulder new life by following this recipe for Stout-Braised Lamb. The meat braises with herbs, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, stout beer, and chicken broth until it becomes fork-tender.
Certain cuts of beef such as short ribs, chuck roast, and brisket start off as tough, chewy pieces of meat. These cuts are usually from the shoulder and leg of the animal, which are active muscle areas. However, when cooked low and slow for hours with red wine, beef stock, plenty of vegetables, and herbs, the meat falls apart (in the best way) and becomes completely tasty. So, if you've overcooked your pot roast for Sunday supper, don't abandon ship; cut the meat into cubes and turn it into a classic beef stew for another day.