As I’ve said elsewhere, early fall can be a tricky time to plan meals. You may think it’s a good weekend for one last barbecue, then suddenly it looks as if it might snow. Or you plan to make pulled pork or roast beef, and it turns back into summer and your kitchen’s an inferno. Here are a few ideas for changing your cooking plans when there’s a change in the weather.
If you’re cooking with ground meat, burgers on the grill are great for hot weather. Don’t worry if they’re not beef; try sausage or turkey patties this way. If it’s cold, an egg and a little oatmeal turns your burgers into meat loaf. If the meat loaf is already mixed up and it gets hot, roll it into meatballs and cook pasta — at least you won’t have to heat up the oven.
Were you planning on roast beef before Indian summer showed up? Slice the roast into steaks and marinate it for sautéing or grilling, or cook it on top of the stove in a little liquid. Did you plan on grilled steaks, but now you’re shivering and craving beef stew? Brown the meat, put it in a covered casserole with potatoes, broth, and vegetables, and cook slowly in the oven for at least an hour.
Real pulled pork does take hours in the oven, though fortunately the temperature doesn’t have to be set very high. But there’s a stove top version you can make with boneless pork chops, or slices you cut from the pork roast you were going to use: Just simmer them for an hour in tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes and spice to your taste. The meat will pull apart in the same way.
Not chilly enough for chili (ha!)? Repurpose it as burrito filling. If the beans are still in the can, just rinse them and serve them cold with tomato-based or vinaigrette dressing. (Don’t skip the rinsing — just take my word for it.)
If your salad vegetables are spinach, mushrooms, cherry or grape tomatoes, and/or bell peppers, a little chopping and sautéing turns them into a pasta topping.
Corn on the cob can be cooked on the stove top, barbecued, or oven roasted. See here for more info.
You don’t have to sit around shivering over a cold salad or sweltering as you eat a hot roast. A little versatility will help you fit your meals to the weather.