Tag Archives: ground beef

HAMBURGER SOUP

Back to the slow cooker; next step in the stove saga (epic?) is set for Saturday. We shall see. One thing about it, using the cooker for most meals encourages creativity. What can you put in the crock that will not taste the same as the last thing you cooked? Even though there are libraries full of slow cooker recipes, for me there are only a few things you can put in the pot and cook all day. I confess. I have gotten better at it, and I have figured out how to use lots of things from the refrigerator. Still…  I would be willing to bet that every slow-cooker aficionado out there has a recipe for hamburger, broth, and vegetables so this will not be an exciting post. But the recipe is very easy – and better than I had hoped.

RECIPE

Hamburger Soup

A bowl of soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped coarsely
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Add the olive oil to slow cooker set at LOW. Stir in the onions, cover, and cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in everything else: ground beef, carrot, potato, celery, beef stock, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, lemon juice. Cook on LOW for 4 hours, longer on SIMMER or until the carrots and potatoes are fork-tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves. Serve.
Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

LAZY MAN’S COTTAGE PIE

Shepherd’s pie (if it’s made with lamb) or cottage pie (if it’s made with beef) are pub favorites in Britain. They’re favorites in our house, too. The ingredients are straightforward, and the recipes are pretty simple. But they do take a lot of time and effort, especially with the mashed potatoes. You scrub, peel, cube, boil, and rice the potatoes. Then you mix them with butter and milk or cream. Finally you layer them over the meat mixture and bake.

It occurred to me that maybe there was a simpler way to deal with the potatoes. Another family favorite is smashed garlic potatoes where you boil russet potatoes in their skins and then mash them coarsely with butter and garlic so they still have lots of lumps, the bane of any self-respecting silky mashed potato. A little egg to bind them together and they might make a tasty – and easy – topping for cottage or shepherd’s pie. I thought I would give it a try. Here’s the result.

RECIPE

Lazy Man’s Cottage Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 snacking peppers, seeded and sliced into thin rings
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup beef stock + more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • melted butter for top

Method

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and stir, cooking until they are translucent but not browned. Add the ground beef, breaking up any large pieces. Stir frequently until the beef is lightly browned and all pink is gone. Stir in the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until the peppers are wilted and the mushrooms are lightly browned and cooked through.
  2. Stir in the flour to cover all the other ingredients and cook for another few minutes until the oil is absorbed and the flour is cooked through. Add the beef stock and stir to make a gravy. Add stock until the gravy is the consistency that suits you.
  3. Add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning and cook a few more minutes. Then transfer to a well-buttered oven-proof dish (a large soufflé dish is perfect) and set aside until you are ready to add the potatoes.
  4. While you are preparing the meat filling, place the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of well-salted water and bring to the boil. Boil the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a kitchen fork with no resistance. This may take as long as 50-60 minutes.
  5. Remove the boiled potatoes from the heat and drain. Cool enough that you can handle them easily. Mash the potatoes coarsely with a large fork or a potato masher, Leave large chunks. Stir in the butter, half-and-half, and eggs. Cool the potatoes enough that the eggs don’t scramble.
  6. Cover the meat mixture with the potatoes, brush the top with melted butter, and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 400° for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and bubbling.
  7. Remove to a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Serve while still warm. Should serve 4 persons.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

PORCUPINE MEATBALLS

When I was in my graduate program, I lived with the family of an old school friend. The mother was a good cook of the Betty Crocker/Good Housekeeping school, and there were still young kids living at home. We often had many of the classics – tuna-noodle casserole, macaroni and cheese, meat loaf – but a cheer would go up from the kids when they learned that dinner would include porcupine meatballs. It was even a celebratory dish for birthdays or good report cards.

The meatballs get their name not from being made from porcupine meat but from the rice on their surfaces that supposedly sticks up like the quills on a porcupine’s back. You clearly need the imagination of a child for this creation.

Honestly, I think that the reputation of the dish was overblown, but it really is something to make when you have run out of ideas for what to do with a pound of ground beef.  And that’s exactly what happened. I had a pound of ground beef to use up, and I didn’t feel like the usual hamburgers or pasta with meat sauce.

Then I thought of porcupine meatballs even though I hadn’t had them since my college days. They are easy to make with the single challenging step being the tomato sauce in which the meatballs cook. If you insist, you can make a very elaborate sauce. Alternatively, you can open a can of plain tomato sauce. Those two options run the gamut of hard to ridiculously easy and of tasty to why-bother. Fortunately, there is a middle road. I bought a large jar of Rao’s tomato/basil pasta sauce (straight from the world-famous Manhattan restaurant, according to the label), and that worked perfectly to make this an easy, one-pot meal.

Put a green salad on the side, and you have all your food groups.

RECIPE

Porcupine Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 teasoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 quart jar commercial pasta sauce
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, soak the bread, torn into pieces, in the milk. Use a fork to mash the bread into a paste.
  2. Add the ground beef, egg, and tomato paste, and with your hands, mix until completely combined. Stir in the bell pepper, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and mix until completely combined.
  3. Form the mixture into 8 meatballs.
  4. Place the rice in a shallow dish. Roll the meatballs in the rice until they are completely covered.
  5. In a large pot,  brown the meatballs in the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta sauce, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Some of the rice will have fallen off the meatballs into the sauce.
  6. Serve while still hot, topped with grated Parmesan cheese

2 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

GREEN CHILE CHEESEBURGER – MY TAKE

The journey begins at home, they say, so after writing about my search for the perfect green chile cheeseburger, it only seemed fair that I write about my version. It is based on my observations over the years. It is what I like, so I make no claims for its being in the “best” category, and I certainly would not think of entering it in any contest. I will leave that to the pros.

The first essential is roasted green chiles. You can buy them canned or frozen, but in New Mexico this is green chile season, so there are roasters at the farmers market, and farmers from Hatch and Chimayo (Hatch’s chief competitor) bring gunny sacks filled with green chiles along with roasting cages and butane burners to parking lots all over the city. They will roast as many as you want, and then it is up to you to peel them, cook with them, and put them up for the winter ahead.

Alternatively, you can roast the few that you need for a recipe at home. There are lots of ways to do that: you can roast them under the broiler in your oven; you can use your outdoor grill. The problem with that is that the wonderful roasting smell will draw neighbors and even strangers to your back yard; you can roast chiles over a gas flame; but my favorite way is to use a chile roasting grill that I purchased years ago at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. I like it so much that I have given many of them to friends on my gift list.

The second essential is to have a tasty melting cheese. Asadero is my favorite, but mozzarella, Monterey jack, cheddar, Emmental, or even Gruyère will also work. The important thing is to make sure that whatever cheese you use, the finished product is as gooey as you can make it.

The third essential is the bun, You should use the very best quality bun you can find. Kaiser rolls are good. Hamburger buns in the cello wraps are not good, but if that is all you can find, it will have to do.

Finally, of course, the most essential ingredient is the meat. I use ground beef with 93% lean, but whatever your favorite might be – from 85% to ground sirloin –  will work. You should plan on anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces of meat per burger. I do a couple of things that are considered heretical. First, I incorporate seasoning – salt, pepper, red pepper if you wish – into the meat. With burgers that big, I don’t think salt or pepper can find their way into the middle and the finished burger tastes bland. Second, that means you will have to mix the meat lightly before you shape the burgers. Just try hard not to compress the meat too much. Third, frying the burger in a cast-iron pan or on a flat grill yields a texture that is tastier to me than from a grill

One tool that helps a lot, especially if you make half-pound burgers, is an instant-read probe thermometer. It will take 7-10 minutes or longer on each side to get the right doneness, and the old thumb-pressure trick may not work as well as you are used to with steaks and smaller burgers. Here are some temperature suggestions: Rare – 130°F (54 °C); Medium-Rare – 135°F (57 °C); Medium – 145°F (63°C); Well Done – 150°f ( 66°C).  IMPORTANT: If you are worried about possible risks with undercooked ground beef, cook longer and adjust your temperature accordingly.

Sauce and extras like thick slices of onion and tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce are your option.

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 fresh Hatch green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 2 -4 good-quality hamburger buns
  • butter
  • 1 pound 93% fresh ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 – 4 slices asadero cheese

Method

  1. Heat the roasting grill until the screen turns bright red. Place the fresh chiles on the grill, turning them frequently until all sides are evenly charred. Remove from the heat and place in a zippered plastic bag. Allow them to cool. Then, under running water, peel away the charred skin. If you have roasted the chiles evenly, the skin should pull away easily. Remove the stems, slit one side, and remove seeds and ribs. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup together.
  3. Butter both halves of the hamburger buns and toast on a dry, hot skillet.  Spread both tops and bottoms with the mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup mixture. Set aside.
  4. Combine the meat with salt, pepper and optional cayenne. Gently divide into 2 or 4 equal portions. Press into patties about the same size as the buns.
  5. Heat a cast-iron skilled over high heat. When it smokes slightly, add the hamburger patties. Sauté on one side for 7 to 10 minutes. Turn and sauté the other side. Check the temperature with your instant-read probe thermometer.
  6. About 2 minutes before you are ready to finish the hamburgers, top each with 1-2 roasted green chiles, a generous slice of asadero cheese, and the top half of a hamburger bun. Check the temperature again.
  7. Transfer the burgers and toppings to the bottoms of the buns and serve immediately.
  8. Have available sliced onions, tomatoes, pickles,  other condiments, and sides of your choice – potato chips, French fires, potato salad, etc., etc.

4 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

COOKING WITH KIDS, PART TWO – NACHOS

With two of the grandkids here, we cooked together for our dinner on their first evening. The main dish was nachos – who doesn’t like nachos? And they are so easy to make. Everyone got involved in putting things together, but waiting for them to bake made folks a little impatient. When the nachos came out of the oven, we all pitched in on eating them – with milk, of course – and then we had fresh palmiers for dessert.

RECIPE

Nachos

Ingredients

  • vegetable spray
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 package taco mix
  • 1 14 ounce can refried beans
  • 1 large bag tortilla chips
  • 1 3.8 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 large bag grated Mexican cheese blend
  • salsa
  • sour cream

Method

  1. Spray  a 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan with vegetable oil
  2. In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef in the oil over medium heat, breaking it up as it browns. Stir in one-half of the taco mix. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the canned refried beans with the remaining half of the taco mix. Set aside.
  4. With a table knife or small spatula, spread about a tablespoon of the refried bean mixture on a tortilla chip and arrange on the prepared jelly roll pan. Continue until the pan is filled with tortilla chips and the refried beans have been used up.
  5. Sprinkle the cooked ground beef, sliced black olives, and grated cheese over the pan of tortilla chips
  6. Bake the tray of prepared chips in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the chips are warmed.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with dollops of salsa and sour cream. Eat immediately while still warm.

4 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

MOM’S SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

We had a chance to help my son celebrate his birthday this year. I agreed to cook, and I wrestled with the menu. We often have steaks when we visit the family, and while they are not vegetarians, they do try to limit their meat intake. On top of that the girls are in the finicky stage of growing up so there are lots of foods they won’t eat, even with encouragement from their mom and dad.

That challenge made me think of spaghetti and meatballs. That way, if someone didn’t want meat – for whatever reason – he or she could forego the meatballs. Similarly, if the girls wanted only plain pasta, that would work, too. I thought of my mother’s homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I guess the sauce could be called a marinara, but to me it is much richer than marinaras at restaurants or in stores. Mom learned to make the sauce at my father’s pleading when we were living in a basement apartment within a compound of a big Italian family. I remember Mom going upstairs to take daily cooking lessons – there was always a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove – until she thought that she had mastered the recipe. Over the years, she and I have cut corners (no longer fresh tomatoes, carrots, etc.), but I think the recipe is still a good one.

The meatballs are another matter. I am not particularly fond of most meatballs. They are usually dry and not, IMHO, very flavorful. I think this recipe has cracked the code, and the recipe makes enough for lots of leftovers. After the birthday party in Silicon Valley, I brought some sauce and meatballs back to San Francisco so that my daughter and son-in-law could have a midnight snack when they got back home on the late flight from New York City. There was nothing left in the morning but the dirty dishes.

RECIPES

Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, trimmed and mashed
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 cremino mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • more salt and pepper as needed

Method

  1. Over a medium flame, heat the olive oil and stir in the onions. Cover to sweat the onions until they are soft and translucent. Be careful not to let them brown.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for another minute or so, being careful not to brown the garlic.
  3. Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth and red wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce to the simmer.
  4. Cook, covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add water if the sauce become too thick.
  5. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and herb seasoning. Simmer for another hour, uncovered, stirring and adding water as needed.
  6. Add the sugar and lemon.
  7. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Add the browned meatballs (see below)  and simmer for another hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot according to your taste)
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (about) fresh bread crumbs

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage, and eggs. Use your hands (freshly washed of course) to mix the ingredients thoroughly
  2. Mix in the herb seasoning, salt, and pepper . Make sure they are thoroughly combined
  3. Stir in the bread crumbs. Hold back a few to make sure the mixture is not too dry. Then add them if needed. Add more bread crumbs if the mixture is still too moist.
  4. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes so that the bread crumbs absorb moisture from the eggs. Then roll a bit of the mixture – slightly larger than a golf ball –  between your palms until it forms a round, smooth meatball. Repeat the process until you have used up all of the meat mixture. You should be able to make about two dozen meatballs
  5. Working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet. When all of the meatballs are browned, add them to the spaghetti sauce and cook everything over medium low heat for another hour.
  6. Serve over cooked spaghetti or other pasta of your choice with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

MEATLOAF! – OR – CLEARING OUT THE FREEZER

I have been doing almost all of our grocery shopping for over five years. In fact, my wife says that she no longer remembers her way around the aisles of our local supermarket.  My buying habits are different from those of my wife – not so different that she wants to resume the chore of shopping – but a little idiosyncratic. It may have come from our days of living in Utah, but I try to make sure that we have enough extras of just about everything so that we won’t run out in case of a natural disaster or the unannounced visit of all of our relatives.

On top of that, being a thrifty shopper, I take advantage of bargains, so when there is a toofer- one, or even better a three-for-one sale I can’t resist. One result of this practice is that our freezer has become packed with packages of meat, poultry, and fish.

Periodically my wife stacks all of the frozen goods on the kitchen counter and issues an ultimatum, “Get rid of all of this before you buy any more.” I am currently working under one of those early warning messages. Today’s recipe is the result of my efforts and is based upon my wondering about what to do with a package of ground turkey that has been languishing at the bottom of the freezer compartment for months. Part of the reason for that is that I am not a big fan of ground turkey. Another reason is that I can’t think of anything to make with it.

So, with some frozen ground beef that was also in the freezer, I decided to make meatloaf. Now I know that everyone who reads this blog is likely to have his or her own favorite meatloaf recipe, and I also know that most readers are looking for ways to make something fancy, exotic, complicated, or all of those things.

Sorry, I hope that you will bear with me on this one, because the meatloaf turned out pretty good – that meaning you couldn’t taste the ground turkey. The best part was that there was enough left over for cold meatloaf and ketchup sandwiches the next day. And after all, that’s the reason most folks make meatloaf in the first place.

RECIPE

Turkey/Beef Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices French bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 jumbo eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot chili sauce
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely minced parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground beef (85% fat)
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon

Method

  1. Tear the French bread into pieces and put in the bowl of a food processor. Process into coarse crumbs and then transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the milk to the bread crumbs and let stand for 5 minutes until the milk is completely absorbed.
  3. Stir in the eggs, ketchup, chili sauce,  onion, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, bay leaf, and lemon juice.
  4. Then add the ground turkey and ground beef. With a large spoon or, better, your freshly washed and dried hands, mix the ingredients until they are well combined.
  5. If you are a perfectionist, brown a small ball of the mixture in a small hot skillet, taste, and correct the seasonings. If you are more casual, like me, pack the meatloaf mixture into a large (9x5x2½ inch) greased bread pan.
  6. Arrange the bacon strips on top of the meatloaf so that it is completely covered. You may have to cut the bacon strips into pieces to do that.
  7. Cover with foil and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 300°F (150°C) for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the foil and place the loaf under the broiler until the bacon is brown and crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, cut into ½ inch slices, and serve.

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes