I’m sure that every one of us (or at least every omnivore) has overcooked meat at some point in our lives. It’s all too easy to do, and while it isn’t necessarily the end of the world, it can turn dinner into a pretty underwhelming affair.
But luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way! Because in today’s post, I’ll be sharing tons of useful ways to salvage overcooked meat! From chicken to beef to pork, this post is packed with simple solutions for transforming overcooked meat into a meal so tasty, your cooking flub may go entirely unnoticed. ;-)
How To Salvage Overcooked Meat & Save Your Dinner
If You Overcooked Chicken…
︎ Shred & Sauce
The biggest problem with overcooked chicken (and overcooked meat on the whole) is how dry it gets. To counteract the dryness, shred the chicken first to increase the amount of surface area you have to work with, then generously coat it with your sauce of choice!
The sauce should ideally complement the rest of the meal, but some good options are barbecue sauce, gravy, vinaigrette, salsa, and mayo-based sauces. (If your chicken is really dry, pick a sauce that’s high in fat like gravy or something mayo-based for best results!)
︎ Trim The Burnt Bits
When you’re cooking chicken out on the grill, it’s easy to end up pieces that look a bit more “charred” than “grilled.” But a lot of times, you can just cut off the burnt bits and the rest will still be perfectly edible, if not still quite moist!
If You Overcooked Beef…
︎ Slice Steaks
Instead of suffering through dry steaks, slice them up instead! Marinate the slices for an hour or so in a suitable sauce or marinade, then assemble them into steak sandwiches or cheesesteaks!
︎ Shred Roasts
Overcooked your Sunday roast? Shred it up and douse it with barbecue sauce for easy and delicious barbecue beef sandwiches.
︎ Don’t Sweat The Stuck-On Bits
Ground beef tends to be a lot more forgiving than other types of beef, because it’s rarely the sole star of the meal. The other ingredients in your recipe can help offset the dryness of the meat, which is usually the biggest problem with overcooked ground beef.
Even if there are bits of scorched beef stuck to the bottom of your pan, proceed as usual and finish up your recipe. Unless most of the meat is a burnt mess, it should still turn out okay!
If You Overcooked Pork…
︎ Chop Up Lean Cuts
Again, dryness is our main concern with overcooked pork, but especially when it comes to lean cuts like chops and tenderloin. A simple solution is to chop the meat up into small pieces and use to make fried rice or a quick and easy stir-fry!
︎ Shred Shoulders
Since shredding an overcooked beef roast is the best way to go, it makes sense that you could do the same for pork roasts! Shred up your pork, toss it in your favorite barbecue sauce, and scoop it onto a bun for easy pulled pork sandwiches.
︎ Process For Potstickers
Regardless of cut, if you have overcooked pork on your hands, you can turn it into a tasty filling for homemade potstickers (or gyoza, or any other variety of dumplings!)
Just put the pork in your food processor with a few cloves of garlic and some green onions, blitz it a few times, then start filling your dumpling wrappers. Yum!
8 Tips To Avoid Overcooking Your Meat
1. Cook It Lower & Slower
If overcooked meat is something of a habit of yours, embrace the idea of cooking meat “low and slow.” Cooking meat for a longer period of time over lower heat is more likely to produce juicy and flavorful results, rather than meat that’s tough and dry.
2. Leave Bones & Fat Intact
You may be eager to rid your meat of bones or large pieces of fat before cooking it, but that isn’t always a good idea! Bones and fat are huge sources of both flavor and moisture, and leaving them intact (at least during cooking) can do wonders for your finished product.
3. Find Your Focus
When I overcook something, it’s usually because I was distracted or attempting to manage several other tasks at once. If that’s the case for you, try to do the majority of your dinner prep before you actually start cooking. A little focus may be all you need!
4. Let It Rest
Even if you cooked your meat absolutely perfectly, it may still turn out dry as a bone if you cut it right away. It’s crucial to allow meat to rest for at least 5-10 minutes after cooking to give the meat time to reabsorb it’s own moisture content. Otherwise it will all come spilling out onto the cutting board, and you’ll be left with a dry and disappointing dinner.
5. Use A Thermometer
Tired of cooking meat using guesswork and fortune-telling? Invest in a decent instant-read digital thermometer! It was a huge game-changer for me personally, to that point that I can’t remember the last time I overcooked something.
(And once you get a thermometer, don’t forget to download my free printable guide to meat temperatures to use as a reference!)
6. Try Sous Vide
Another way to eliminate the guesswork when cooking meat is by cooking sous vide using a circulator like this one. Many circulators can maintain water temperature down to a fraction of a degree for hours on end, making it nearly impossible to overcook things (and reducing the chef’s workload considerably!)
7. Buy Thicker Cuts
Some cuts (like super thin pork chops) are simply too easy to overcook! If you tend to buy thinner cuts and they often turn out dry, opt for thicker cuts the next time you shop for meat. They might take a bit longer to cook than you’re used to, but the deliciously juicy results will be worth the wait.
8. Try A Different Technique
Some cooking techniques preserve more of the moisture in meat than others, so don’t be afraid to try out new methods and techniques until you find one you like. For instance, I frequently overcooked chicken until I discovered this method for cooking perfect chicken breasts.
Do you have any tips for salvaging food after a cooking mishap?