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How to save your overcooked meat so you can still eat dinner anyway

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

Easy hacks for rescuing dinner when you've overcooked the meat

Overcooking a meal — and especially overcooking meat — may be one of the most common mistakes we're making in the kitchen. If you're not familiar with the meat you're cooking, or if you're trying out a new recipe, it's easy to end up with chewy, tough and dried-out meat on your plate.

Find out what to do when your back is against the wall, and you've accidentally overdone your chicken, pork or beef.

Overcooked chicken

Chicken is very easy to overcook — whether on the grill, on the stovetop or in the oven. On the grill, you can usually remove the burnt edges, and the inside will still be moist. The stovetop and oven are a little trickier, though, since typically the meat is dried-out on the inside too. Change up the meal by shredding the dry chicken and adding mayonnaise, salt, pepper and other spices of your choice for homemade chicken salad sandwiches. If you don't wish to change the meal completely, slice the chicken into thin strips, and add a mixture of olive oil or butter and herbs. Drizzle that on top, and garnish with salt and pepper. You can also add barbecue sauce or your favorite vinaigrette.

More: 10 cooking hacks that will make your life much easier

Overcooked beef

Whether you overcooked your steaks or a roast, dried-out beef isn't a favorite of anyone. For steak, slice it up, and soak it overnight in your favorite marinade. Use it in wraps, soups, shepherd's pie or pastas. For roasts, place it in the slow cooker with barbecue sauce, and cook on low for a few hours. Shred the beef, and make some tasty barbecue sandwiches. Another idea is to make beef stroganoff. Stroganoff is simply egg noodles, beef chunks and your favorite veggies. We love this quick chipotle beef stroganoff for nights when you're in a hurry.

Quick tip: Add a little beef broth to the dry beef, and let simmer on the stove for a few minutes.

More: 7 common cooking mistakes you're probably making

Overcooked pork

Dry pork is the worst of the meats, but just like chicken and beef, there are solutions. Chop it up into small chunks, and make pork fried rice or a pork stir-fry. Shred it, and place in the slow cooker with barbecue sauce for barbecue pulled pork sandwiches. You can also put the pork into a food processor and mix with green onions, cabbage and garlic to use as a filler in pot stickers.

Overcooked meat doesn't have to be thrown out, and as you can see, there are dozens of recipes that will disguise the dried-out taste.

More: The best cooking advice I've ever received

Tips on preventing overcooked meat

  • Cook it longer over low heat. Unless you're grilling steak, which is best grilled over high heat for a short amount of time, meat is juicier when it cooks for a longer period of time over low heat.
  • Wait to trim the fat. It's tempting to want to cut off all that fat before cooking the meat, but wait until after it's done cooking. Fat traps in moisture and gives your meat a juicy taste as opposed to a dry one.
  • Don't multitask. One of the main reasons for people overcooking their meat is that they simply forget to set the timer or don't hear it go off. We get it — we're busy! When cooking dinner, avoid social media, television and other distractions. Try setting up the kids with an activity or letting them help. That way your main focus can be on dinner.
Easy hacks for rescuing dinner when you've overcooked the meat
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Originally published February 2014. Updated July 2016.

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