Episode 125 How to Cook Ground Beef
Ground beef is a basic in many homes. It is easy and fast to cook and relatively inexpensive. But, many of us are not making the most of this simple meat.
How To Thaw Ground Beef
There are three ways to thaw ground beef.
- The best way to thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. I have found it takes more than 24 hours to completely thaw one pound of ground beef in my packed refrigerator so I like to give at least two days to thaw in the refrigerator.
- Use the free Feed Your Family Tonight Weekly Meal Planning Sheet and write thaw beef two days before you plan to serve it.
- If you have half a day, you can thaw the ground beef in a bowl of cool water. It is important to change the water every 30 minutes.
- It’s time to cook dinner and you forgot to thaw the meat. Use the microwave. My microwave has a 1 pond defrost button which works well. Otherwise, just use 50% power for 3-5 minutes to thaw the ground beef.
How to Brown Ground Beef
There are two ways to brown ground beef. The first way yields larger chunks with deeper flavor the second yields a soft texture and smaller pieces of beef.
- Method 1 is to spread the meat into an even disk in a skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and do not stir for at least 5-7 minutes. You want to get a deep brown crust on the bottom. Once the crust is formed you can flip the meat and break it up with a spatula or chop and stir tool. It is important to salt the meat using ¾-1 teaspoon of salt per pound
- Method 2 is to cook the meat in water. Place the meat in a pot and add water just to cover it. Salt the meat and water (3/4-1 teaspoon of salt per pound) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. You will get a very soft and fine texture of meat.
How to Form Hamburgers
There are 3 main ways to form hamburgers.
- Simply shape ground beef into patties.
- Use the Cook’s Illustrated method and make a panade with milk and bread or bread crumbs and season it, form into patties and cook
- Use the Feed Your Family Tonight Make Ahead Hamburger Patty This recipe uses egg, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. They can be made ahead and frozen for quick grilling all summer long.
How to Avoid “Golf Ball” Hamburgers
There are two ways to avoid hamburgers that puff up in the middle as they cook.
- Make the hamburger patties oversized, but flat and thin. This is my preferred method. They will shrink up a little as the cook and get a little thicker, but not puffy in the middle.
- Put a small indentation in the middle of the patty with your thumb before cooking. The indentation will fill in as the burger cooks, but provides a place for the meat to expand so you don’t get a puffy middle.
How to Cook Hamburgers
There are three main ways to cook hamburgers. You can grill, broil, or panfry burgers.
- To grill the burgers on a gas grill you want to preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes on high. Using a safe continuous wire grill brush, scrub the hot grill, and then add the burgers. Cook on one side and then flip and cook on the other side. Do not push down on the burgers with a spatula as it will release all the fat and moisture from the burger and you will get a very dry burger.
- I do not prefer to broil burgers.
- Panfrying burgers can be a messy endeavor, but you can get a super juice burger with a deep crust that is delicious. Use a splatter guard and turn on the exhaust fan. Get a heavy-duty skillet (I like to use cast iron) screaming hot and add the burger. Cover with a splatter guard and leave it alone and do not touch it until a deep brown crust has formed on the bottom. Flip the burger and cook on the other side. Do not press down on the burger as it will release all the fat and moisture and leave you with a dry burger.
How to Make Meatloaf or Meatballs with Ground Beef
Meatloaf and meatballs are basically the same mixture shaped differently. They both use a panade of bread or oats with a liquid. You add seasonings and shape the meat mixture.
- Meatloaf has a better crust if you shape it free-form and put it on a rimmed baking sheet to cook rather than cooking in a loaf pan.
- Meatballs can be shaped by hand or use a #40 scoop. You can cook them two ways.
- Pan fry them in small batches. This yields a rich brown crust but is messy and time-consuming.
- Bake them in the oven. This is my preferred way to make dairy-free Italian Meatballs. If your oven has convection, use it to get better browning on the meatballs.
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Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.
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