The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 15, 2012

Ground Beef Primer

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — From time to time, I receive requests for articles and recipes on a specific topic. I have received several of those lately and will be trying to incorporate them as I can find the info and recipes. One recent one was for beef recipes. With the cost of food lately, inexpensive beef is a great meal make.

When purchasing ground beef, keep in mind that even though the leaner ground beef is a little more expensive, it continues to be economical to purchase. If the amount of fat in the cheaper ground beef is factored in, the volume of usable meat is reduced when the fat renders out. Buying ground chuck or round creates less waste and a healthier meal.  If the whole chuck roast, top sirloin or round steak is on sale, buy the whole thing and grind it yourself in the food processor.

There are lots of standard uses for ground beef. The backyard barbeque is probably the most common and the easiest. Throw a burger on the grill, slam it on a bun and there you have it, quick culinary pleasure. To make a simple hamburger on the grill a great burger it takes some planning and forethought. You need to season the burger for the best taste. You can do that many ways, add some chopped onion, minced garlic, bell pepper or other spices and your basic burger goes way up the taste scale with a minimum amount of effort.

However, there are many other preparation methods for ground beef. Here are a few good and easy recipes.

The first is Shepherd’s Pie. It’s easy, cheap and delicious! What could be better.

The second is beef stew. This one is cooked in the slow cooker, so it can be cooking while you are at work and then dinner is a snap.

The last recipe is beef stuffed squash. This is a fun way to use squash and it’s tasty and easy to make.

Shepherd's Pie

2 1/2 Lbs Ground Beef

1 Green Pepper, diced

1/2 Cup Corn Kernels

1 Onion, diced

1 Small Can Diced Roasted Red Peppers

1 Can Green Beans, drained

2 Tbsp Steak Seasoning

1 Tbsp Water

2 Tomatoes, diced

4 Cups Mashed Potatoes,

   real is best, but instant will work

1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook ground beef until well done. Strain to remove grease. Sauté the green pepper, corn, onion, roasted peppers, green beans and steak seasoning in butter until tender. Strain off any excess butter. Mix with the ground beef and add the tomatoes. Layer this mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with warm mashed potatoes. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Serve with a salad for a healthy and tasty meal.

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with lamb, but can be made using ground beef or turkey. If prepared with turkey, it will produce a leaner meal.

Beef Stuffed Squash

3 Acorn Squash or Yellow Squash

1/2 Cup Fresh Bread Crumbs

2 Tbsp Onion, minced

1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce

1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce

8 Ounces Corn

1 Lb Ground Beef

1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, minced

1/4 Cup Celery, finely chopped

1/4 Cup Water

1 Tbsp Prepared Mustard

Wash the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith. Place squash, cut side down, on an oiled baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes, or until almost tender.

Meanwhile brown the beef in a large skillet. Drain off excess fat. Stir in breadcrumbs, parsley, onion, celery, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and corn. Toss lightly to combine. Fill the squash halves with the mixture. Place in a shallow pan, return to oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until heated through. You may also sprinkle cheese on top if desired. Serve with hot biscuits.