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Last Minute Dinner Challenge: a Pound of Ground Meat - Now What?

OK, Chowhound Chefs!

Please start your engines. No, wait. Start the old "Twilight Zone" "doot-dat-dat-dat" theme music. This could get weird...
It's Rod Serling saying: "May I present, for your entertainment and delectation a pound of ground meat. It's ground turkey. But, it might be ANY ground meat from this or any other universe. But, with some imagination and the right ingredients I think it may yet hold some surprises..."

It's 2 p.m. West Coast time and my dinner menu is up for grabs.
I suspect my husband is bored out of his mind with my old dinner standbyes: meatloaf, burgers, spag. bol., chili, and meat/veg. stir fries with rice or various noodles. It's well known how you all love a challenge and my fridge and pantry are replete with the all the basic staples. So, please, please, please - what would YOU do with a pound of hamburger meat and some imagination?

Let the games begin!

P.S.
Not ruling out the general categories of cooking noted above: loafie things, burgery things, things that are stir fried, but do you have versions that will make my tired old husband wake up and say "Niki, THAT'S really good. And different!"

THANKS!

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  1. make ma po tofu, but its better with ground pork

    7 Replies
    1. re: bitsubeats

      Yah. I love ma po tofu. Quintessential comfort food. You are right about the pork being key though. I made a mistake claiming in the OP that ground meats were generally interchangeable, because that unctuous buttery quality of the ground pork is part of what makes ma po tofu such a wonderful comfort food. Mmm...maybe I should just hang it up and order some delivery Chinese. WITH ma po tofu of course.
      Thanks!

      1. re: niki rothman

        hmmmm, not so sure...I've tried this with ground pork and then I tried it with ground turkey...the method I use has the ground meat marinating in soy sauce prior to browning it...when I tried it with the ground turkey, I really couldn't tell the difference...just my opinion and I don't know if your method calls for the marinade first.

        1. re: Val

          Hi - do you have a recipie for that? We have a ground turkey defrosting and that sounds like something I would like to try.

          Thanks!

          1. re: lbs

            Here's a copy-and-paste of Mabziegurl's recipe from a thread called "Your Most Requested Recipe"... I just love this dish:

            its very simple to make.
            i don't really measure since my mother taught me how to make it so i've approximated everything. chinese people usually do everything by taste =)

            make sure the wok is hot, add some oil, add several slices of ginger (keep them fairly large so you can remove them easily) and brown about 1/4 lb of ground pork marinated in a little soy sauce, really chinese people don't marinate, they just stir in soy sauce and wait like 5-10 minutes while they prep the rest of their work
            (usually i buy the leanest ground pork and the fattest ground pork at the market then mix them together, my grandmother taught me this)
            add a teasoon of black beans.
            add chili bean paste, i usually add 3+ soup spoon fulls because i love it spicy.
            add 2 tablepsoons of chinese rice wine (mijiu)
            add one package of cubed silken tofu (silken is the softest tofu)
            i usually taste and add more chili bean paste.

            pull out ginger and of course enjoy over rice. this will probably feed 4 people if accompanied with something else as well.

            Make sure you use good chili bean paste. Don't buy lee kum kee or whatever that brand is for this stuff. There are several different brands, you can try the different brands, but my mom says to stay clear of that brand for most sauces and pastes. We only use that one for Oyster Sauce. It was the one I wanted to grab because it had the most English on it, but my mom says to stay clear of it. The one I buy is from Hong Kong, there's no English brand on it, but it says Chili Bean Paste in English on it =)

            ENJOY!

          2. re: Val

            Recently, I ordered ma po tofu from a Chinese restaurant where it was made with ground pork. I've had it vegetarian style, and I cook with ground turkey so much it is embarrassing. Well, I have to say that ground pork adds an ineffable unctuous succulence that is sadly missing from both the vegetarian and turkey versions. Also, ground turkey has a softer, more tender texture than ground turkey, which adds to the general lovability of the porky version. And I noticed this particularly delicious version of ma po tofu from Tao Yin in SF also contained enough finely minced fresh jalapeno peppers, and grated fresh ginger, to really add some sparkle.

            1. re: niki rothman

              Er...me bad. I meant to say ground PORK has a softer, more tender texture than ground turkey. But, I figure you already knew that.

      2. Stroganoff is good ... you could make pasties or a shepherd's pie. Tacos or taco salad ... I know, not that different ... I am into comfort food rather than different ;) You could make vegetable soup ...

        3 Replies
        1. re: foiegras

          Oh, I agree when I asked for different I was still looking for comfort food. All of my cooking IS comfort food. Richard is not hot for veggie soup of the generic variety and I don't think I've got any ideas of my own to jazz it up right now. Pasty/shepheard's pie is a great idea - I have Bisquick. And I did think of doing something with that. I just need a real recipe though. I do not think my brain is ready to wing that. But thanks, I will do that soon. A gravy recipe, just chop the veg, par boil, fry the meat and encase in a bisquick dough I suppose. Sounds like too much thinking for tonight tho'
          But VERY soon...
          Thanks!

          1. re: niki rothman

            I've made a somewhat different version of Shepherd's pie by sauteeing some onion, garlic, chopped carrots, celery, and ground meat. I would then add salt and pepper, curry powder, peas and shredded Cheddar cheese. Would then top with mashed potatoes. It may sound like curry and cheese wouldn't go to together, but it really made for a very interesting flavor combo.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Miss Needle - you've got me thinking about shepherd's pie and it does sound really appetizing. Because my own husband does not like curry, what would you suggest substituting herby/spicy - wise, as you're so familiar with the flavor profile of the dish? It's something I just never make but should start. What do you think of making it with some cubed red potatoes on the inside with the other veg. and then a Biaquick biscuit topping, perhaps with your cheesy component incorporated into that buiscuit topping instead of into the body of the dish? And at what temp do you bake it and for how long? Also, what size/type vessel is best for baking this. I would probably say since everything is going to be precooked, I'd bake at whatever the temp was for making the buiscuit topping and use my round terra cotta baking dish that I use for baked ziti. Thanks for the fine idea. I'm looking forward to making this really soon.

        2. I would make tacos. Cook with some onion and garlic and spices until a little crunchy, fry some tortillas, have lots of toppings available (cheese, salsa, lettuce, guacamole, green onions), and have some black beans and rice on the side. Or, cook the meat the same way, and turn that into enchiladas.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JasmineG

            Great idea. I will give him the taco option when he comes home. It's quick enough to do last minute. He likes it. It's simple. I have ALL the ingredients, even the cilantro and pickled jalapenos, and corn tortillas. We'll see if he wants tacos. He may not, but good idea. I even have canned refritos and can steam some white rice for sides. I'll give him the final choice. (He may still opt for burgers!)
            Thanks!

            1. re: niki rothman

              Taco Salad is quick and nice alternative to a taco. Brown meat as usual with taco seasoning, simmer, etc. Cut up lettuce, dice up tomatoes, few diced onions or scallions, shredded mexican combo cheese or just cheddar if that is all you have and Doritos smashed up. Yum. Put the Doritos in at the last minute so they stay crunchie. Add some salsa when you serve. This is a favorite when I bring it to pot luck dinner, parties, and oh my gosh so simple.

          2. Stuffed bell peppers, stuffed cabbage, taco salad, meatball subs, use as a pizza topping (with bacon and cheddar for a cheeseburger pizza, with feta, spinach and olives for a greek pizza, beans, sour cream, lettuce, tomato for a taco pizza), scramble up for a Joe's Special perhaps...?

            1. curry croquettes - brown the meat with diced oinion and curry powder - boil some potatoes - put through potato ricer - combine with beef. once it cools - form into croquettes - refrigerate a few hours - bread with flour, eggs, breadcrumbs - deep fry.
              these can be made a head and reheated. serve with a green salad.

              1 Reply
              1. re: howchow

                Dare I be really honest? Will you still love me? Oh, what's that? You didn't love me anyway? Whew...well, that's a refief. Here's the bad news - Richard is, sadly, a confirmed curry-hater. I LOVE CURRY. But God knows I don't cook these meals to please myself. Oh no. I'D be very happy with that ham sandwich I mentioned.
                But thanks anyway!

              2. Rosemary Garlic Turkey/Chicken Burgers - all ingredients to taste

                Lots of minced garlic and fresh or dried rosemary (sometimes I substitute tarragon), fresh ground pepper, cayenne, dijon mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar. Mix all together with the meat. Form patties around a hunk of your favorite cheese (jarlsberg, swiss, gruyere, even pepperjack all work well). Grill like you normally would, making sure there's a nice browning on both sides of the patty.

                Serve on a good roll with dill pickles, mayo, and more dijon.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mojoeater

                  God, you've got my mouth watering! Here's the sad truth. I usually pick fresh rosemary from a bush near here, but THIS week I forgot to do it. So, the key ingredient is missing. I have GOT to make this tho' - this is the BEST sounding burger I have heard of in ages. I LOVE those flavor combos. Exactly what I often use with roast chix or lamb. But inserting the cheese is pure genius!
                  Hats off!
                  And thanks!
                  I WILL make these burgers as soon as I can get over to that bush for the fresh rosemary.

                2. How about Larb?

                  Or making kofta kebabs to grill or simmer in a curry sauce?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: 4Snisl

                    Larb? Er...do you mean lard? Unfortunately, I'm plum outta lard. And although we're Jewish, *I* still love a good ham sandwich (good rye bread, whole grain mustard, Jarlsberg swiss, a little lettuce - dang! too bad I can't make THAT outta a pound of burger meat), but I strongly suspect Richard would draw the line at lard.
                    No, wait. Larb is something Thai or Vietnamese, isn't it? But, er...WHAT is it?
                    Now you've really got my attention. If I brought it into the bedroom, where the dining table resides in our typically cramped San Francisco apartment, and announced, "Are ya ready for a big steaming pile of larb, honey?" Lucy would have some 'splainin' to do. Probably about how larb does NOT involve pork.
                    Please tell me how to cook larb.
                    Thanks!

                    1. re: niki rothman

                      So it's ten days later, but you're going to run in to this problem again. Larb is Northern Thai and is good with just about any ground meat . You can even grind your own chicken in the cuisinart and it works alright (just don't process it down to a paste!). Anyway, there's a pretty good recipe here: http://importfood.com/recipes/spicych... although I usually use a lot more mint and throw in some cilantro just before serving. It's best with sticky rice but jasmine rice is good, too.

                      1. re: kkbriggs

                        kk, NE Thai and Lao rather than N Thai--see above as well.

                  2. Thai ground beef. Saute some chopped onion or leeks, throw in some garlic at the end. Add beef and crumble. Stir in a spoonful of curry paste or curry powder, a spoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper. Throw in some tomato puree, tomato sauce, or whatever you have on hand. Cook down. Squeeze with lime, add some coconut milk to taste.

                    Once the sauce has cooked down enough to be thick, taste and add more curry to suit your preferences. Serve on rice.

                    I know it's in no way a true Thai dish, but it's delicious nonetheless.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: katecm

                      Oh dear. No cocoanut milk. I DO have some curry paste and it doesn't have a very curry-like flavor so it would be safe with my husband who doesn't like curry. Isn't this sort of a Thai national dish (larb?) I should try it. No basil either. Which is good. By cocoanut milk, do you mean the thick, sweet kind? Or is this the thin kind? I have not seen it for sale. Is it canned or refrigerated? From a Chinese market? I am not aware of Thai markets in SF. But, in general, I have never cooked with cocoanut milk and need some tips? Do you boil it or would that ruin it - does it curdle with too much acid? Someone needs to take me in hand in a big way when it comes to Thai food. My interest is still there but I'm clueless and have been very disappointed in my restaurant attempts.
                      Help!
                      And thenks! I like your style. And your idea sounds delicious!

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        I find coconut milk in the Asian foods section of my grocery store and in Trader Joe's. I'm sure it would be in most Asian food markets. It's not terribly thick (that's coconut creme, which is used for pina coladas). It is often available in a lite variety, which I use to keep things healthy. If you use it, shake the can first, because it does separate. If you like coconut flavor, use the leftover coconut milk in your rice. It's lovely.

                        You can go ahead and cook it like crazy. It won't boil because it's not an actual dairy product. It also keeps well for the same reason. Your meal won't taste like coconut, but it adds a bit of creaminess and sweetness. It's also good if you get really bold and try an Indian tomato-based curry.

                        1. re: katecm

                          but never, ever put it in your coffee. I was desperate one morning, out of milk & creamer & there was leftover coconut milk in the fridge....

                          ew.

                    2. skillet lasagne? I know, it sounds gross and midwestern, but it's actually pretty tasty. I use the recipe from Americas Test Kitchen (with some increased seasoning - found it a little bland as written), but I"ll bet there are tons of recipes on something like allrecipes.com.

                      Or tacos.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cyberroo

                        This is comfort food to me...my mother would scramble and brown the ground beef with onions, peppers, sometimes garlic. We would simply eat this over mashed potatoes or rice. That's it. Yum!

                        1. re: cyberroo

                          NO, skillet lasagne does NOT sound gross and midwestern. Besides, I LOVE stodgy midwestern chow. Skillet lasagne sounds delicious and I even watched them make it on America's Test Kitchen very recently and swore I was going to try it. It looked super easy. Fry meat, onions, garlic, add crushed tomatoes, broken up lasagne noodles. Cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Uncover and add lumps of ricotta, parmesan, and torn fresh basil. I think fresh basil is key and I'm out of fresh basil, unfortunately. But thanks. I WILL make skillet lasagne as soon as I can buy some fresh basil. It's just too late for tonight.

                        2. Lao laap. Toss the meat into a pot of boiling water, breaking it up quickly. Drain while still a bit pink. Mix in a solution of lime juice and fish sauce (maybe 1/3 cup total), chopped up fresh green/red chilis, green onion (quite a bit), a small red onion finely diced. Taste & correct. Let cool. near serving, mix in torn mint leaves. Toast a handful of uncooked rice til golden brown, grind. At serving, sprinkle on top the ground toasted rice, more mint leaves, and more sliced red chilis. Serve with greens on the side, including blanched young green beans; and with plain white rice. This will pull his chain.

                          Added edit: I forgot finely chopped cilantro and some slivered ginger. Eat by hand, wrapping a spoonful of laap in a letuce or cabbage leaf.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Oh...this sounds to die for! BUT. Sadly I have no fresh mint, no fresh chilis. I do have pickled jalapenos, dried mint, lemon - not lime. I have everything else, but you'll have to teach me about ground toasted rice and the general applications of this ingredient. I'm conceptually completely innocent when it comes to South East Asian cooking - very sadly even my restaurant experience is embarrassingly still limited to pho and bun (both of which we both love).

                            The disconnect on experimentation and thus increasing sophistication happened when I decided after several traumatic visits to Thai restaurants that I had a real problem with the common flavor profile of sweet, sour, hot, cocoanut creamy (so far so good) and BASIL. But your recipe doesn't contain basil, which I can't shake associating with Italian food for some sad reason.

                            There have been several abortive reqests from me to the chowhounds on my local SF board to steer me to Thai restaurants and dishes I might enjoy but I'm still stuck in first gear at the pad thai level (which is a rather boring dish, truth be told). I think the flavors in Lao Lap that you describe sound fabulous and I intend to go right out to the best Thai restaurant that I can afford in SF and urgently request some at my first opportunity.
                            Thanks!

                            1. re: niki rothman

                              Niki, Sam's recipe is essentially what I was thinking of when I was talking about larb (I think it goes by a variety of names.....) The recipe I tried was from "Hot Sour Salty Sweet", but I don't have the book, only checked it out from the library.

                              Your lard stream-of-thought cracked me up :)

                              1. re: niki rothman

                                niki, thank you so much for your very thoughtful and personal replies to each and all of us who replied.

                                "Laab", "laap", "lap", "larb"--different spellings because they are our versions from a tonal language.

                                Anyway, laab is NE Thai and Lao--NOT central Thai with the flavor profile you mention (which I'm not that fond of either). I equate the Lao cuisine (one of my favorites) with a really delicious version of "macrobiotic" diet of the late 60s (w/o the excesses). Very healthy, fresh stuff. Even the process gets rid of the grease of the meat. The ground toasted rice is only used on laap as far as I know.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Sam, you are so sweet. Sweet is delicious. You are very welcome - what can I say? I love food. I love people who love food. I only wish I had the energy to reply right now to everybody who's so very kindly replied since I last posted. But the dental (OUCH!) work I had earlier today finally caught up with me and I'm heading for my bed. You'll all have to be in delicious suspense about the final dinner (last supper? last meal?) preparations. Richard DID enjoy his dinner. Thank you. Thank each and every one of you wonderful chowhound chefs - you always come through.

                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                    Guess I should have read through the post a little further before I replied. Anyway, I think you mentioned that you were looking for good Thai recipes in one of your earlier posts. I really like www.importfood.com - they have great recipes and a lot of them come with pictures. And you can buy almost anything in the recipes from them.

                            2. Enchiladas, Burritos
                              Penne Arrabiata (spicy spaghetti)
                              Fritata
                              Ground meat stew
                              Fried Rice
                              Ground meat hash
                              Scotch Broth
                              Minestrone

                              1. Stuffed Peppers is my dinner tonight! I bought Costco-sized bag of mixed color peppers so am making stuffed peppers ala Elise's from Simply Recipes...great pictures here too
                                http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives...
                                however, my ground beed is not extra extra lean, so I'm browning it first, has anybody made stuffed peppers without browning the hamburger? Another fave is stuffed zuchini with the same mixture done more with more Italian notes.

                                1. My standby is my mother's Poor Man's Stroganoff:

                                  Start a pot of rice or noodles.

                                  Chop up a big yellow onion and put in a large pan with olive oil to fry.

                                  While the onions cook, spread out the meat into a disk the size of the bottom of the pan and chop it into small bits with a spatula or dough scraper. Add a couple of generous pinches of salt.

                                  When the onion softens, add a couple of cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and the meat to the pan. Continue chopping the meat to crumbs.

                                  When the meat is cooked, remove it to a sieve and drain off the excess fat, but don't squeeze.

                                  Put the meat in a bowl and stir in a small container of sour cream, or thick yogurt and a couple of tablespoons of mayo.

                                  Add a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper and as much more salt as it needs, and serve over the rice or noodles.

                                  1. My husband's favorite dish. His mother called it Fried Corn.
                                    1 # ground chuck
                                    1 16 oz bag frozen corn thawed ( I've made it with canned corn too)
                                    1 onion chopped
                                    1 green pepper chopped ( if you want to be fancy)
                                    Start browning the meat in skillet, drain after a few minutes but leave some fat
                                    Add corn and onion ( and peppers) and continue cooking until the corn starts to get brown along the edges It should be chewy, like roasted corn.
                                    Simple and delicious.
                                    I've also made it with canned hominy for a carboholics delight.

                                    1. So what did you end up making?

                                      Faced with a pound of ground turkey and a desire for something different, I'd make a shepherds pie... or some Thai-style lettuce wraps. I made a nice mini-turkey-meatball soup once... or you could grill turkey kebabs gyro-style and pretend it was ground lamb.

                                      1. My favorite slightly unusual dish to make with ground meat is curried meat pies. I can get more specific w/the recipe if desired, but basically:
                                        Make pie crust
                                        Saute ground beef/turkey/pork. Add onions and garlic. Add curry powder and chopped granny smith apples. Stir in grated cheddar cheese
                                        Roll out two circles of dough. Fill on one side of each with meat mixture, fold over dough, bake til done.

                                        Freeze amazingly well.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: girlwonder88

                                          Meat pies! Yes, that's what I was thinking. Could you give us the recipe please? sounds lovely...

                                          1. re: girlwonder88

                                            Sounds yummy--and I thought that was a recipe ;)

                                            1. re: foiegras

                                              I'm definitely going to try this, hopefully this weekend ... but without the curry, and was thinking of diced Gouda instead ...

                                            2. What did you make? And did your hubby go "Wow!"?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: QueenB

                                                Best wishes on the migraine, and please, please, DO TELL!!

                                              2. If you live on the west coast, odds are you are near a Trader Joe store. Easiest thing in the world with a pound of ground meat is to brown it and add a jar of one of the TJ "simmer sauces", and serve it with rice. Ta-DAAAH!

                                                1. I've been on a Turkey Taco Salad kick lately.

                                                  I brown up the ground turkey, maybe with a diced onion, maybe not. I add a packet of Taco Seasoning and a bit of water. I eat some out of the pan with my fingers.

                                                  Then I make a salad of romaine, cheddar cheese, fresh salsa, and whatever else I have, and put some of the turkey on top. Yum.

                                                  I bring this to work for lunch a lot.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: manraysky

                                                    Me too, this is so satisfying. Also make it with my favorite well almost favorite vegetable, cabbage. It seems to ward of the hungries longer than with lettuce. Add tomato, olive, red onion, pickled jalapeno and black beans, avoccado,a little shake of parmesean cheese (don't kill me) the canned version, sour cream, and fresh salsa.
                                                    I don't add taco seasoning to the turkey, just my mojo spice; red chili flakes and california chilie powder, garlic, and cayenne. Your're right yum.

                                                    We had the Turkey Thai Lettuce Wraps tonight. My favorite way to make ground turkey.
                                                    Also Turkey Cannelloni with Bechamel, I know mb I owe you the recipe, will do I promise.

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      turkey cannelloni with bechamel, yum! Haven't had breakfast yet, but I'd devour leftovers of that right now! Can't wait for the recipe! Thanks, cc.

                                                  2. Two ideas: growing up in Fresno, one of my favorite dishes at school was hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes. When I fix it, I tell my kids it's called "Public School Food." Just brown the beef, season with salt, pepper, and chopped onions, add a jar of beef gravy and serve it over mashed potatoes. Simple and good, and sometimes I jazz it up with thyme or something, though my school never did. Also, "Joe's Special." Brown the beef, add some thawed spinach and minced onions and garlic, seasonings, and add a couple of beaten eggs at the end, cook and stir until set. Both are easy and yummy!

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: mothrpoet

                                                      No kidding? I grew up in Fresno and remember that hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes. Now I recall that the rectangular sectioned food dishes were light green or tan moulded plastic. It was good. I went to Norseman, Yosemite, McLane ('68). You?

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        Hello! I went to Easterby, Kings Canyon and Roosevelt (72). Cher went to Roosevelt! And of course you remember the beerocks! And all the Armenian kabobs, pilaf and stuffed grape leaves at all the school functions! Nice to meet you!

                                                        1. re: mothrpoet

                                                          And you! I've listed the bierocks as one of my favorite school lunch foods on a past thread. My favorite, however, were the enchiladas. Armenian food was always great in Fresno. We grew all sorts of things in our back yard: the grape vine was more for the leaves than the grapes.

                                                          s.fujisaka@cgiar.org

                                                        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          I LOVE hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, I didn't grow up in Fresno. Great meal when I need a gravy and mashed potato fix!

                                                      2. This is my own washday-simple invention, but it's what made my children like squash and green pepper and we all still love it, esp. when the homegrown tomatoes come in every summer. Not sure how to write the instructions because I've done it so often I do it on autopilot.

                                                        Heat a big deep skillet or braising pan (Cast iron will do; no acids)
                                                        Cook most of the pink out of a lb. of ground beef, pour off any excess fat.

                                                        S&P lightly.

                                                        Add a big chopped onion and a big chopped green pepper (Or one & a half, if you love pepper. I love the frozen chopped kind--green or red/green mixed-- because they're already tender.)

                                                        Stir together, S&P lightly again, reduce heat a little and cook on another ~5 min. w/an occas. stir.

                                                        Add 6-8 thin-sliced yellow summer squash or a mix of zucchini and yellow squash. (You should have a mountainous heap of squash. It cooks down almost like greens.)

                                                        Cover the skillet, reduce heat, let the squash cook down, turning everything top to bottom several times.

                                                        When the squash is tender, adjust S&P, add a sprinkle of oregano or whatever herb(s) you love, maybe some cayenne or Chipotle Tabasco. Last time I used Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning and I think it was the best yet. If it's too liquid-y (some squash seems all water), uncover and reduce til it's still nice and juicy (you need a little something to swipe up with your cornbread) but not soupy.

                                                        Grate sharp cheddar generously over it, serve hot from the skillet with corn bread and sliced tomatoes. It's even better reheated the next day, as almost everything like this is.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: PhoebeB

                                                          Oops. It was turkey, not beef. But why not?

                                                        2. I'm late to this thread...but next time if you want to throw your husband a curve, make him "Ants on a Tree" with ground meat and mung bean threads (glass noodles).

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: HLing

                                                            Growing up Irish in Boston, we had "American Chop Suey"!

                                                            Cook 1 box barilla elbow macaroni, or my new fav Meza Rigatoni, while making the below:

                                                            Heat up a non stick skillet to medium, add:
                                                            1lb of ground beef (cook until lightly brown)
                                                            Add:
                                                            1 chopped red/yellow/or green pepper
                                                            1 medium onion, chopped
                                                            Stir and cook til veggies are translucent.
                                                            Add two chopped fresh tomatoes, cook while stirring 5 minutes.
                                                            Add 1/2 cup of white or red wine (whatever drinking wine you have on hand)
                                                            Salt and pepper to taste.

                                                            Drain macaroni, transfer to bowl and add skillet mixture and combine well. I can do this recipe with my eyes closed, and sometimes add an extra tomato. You can also use 1 small can of canned chopped tomatoes instead.

                                                            Great comfort food!

                                                            1. re: mcel215

                                                              This is indeed fine comfort food. But it's on the regular agenda. Well, I guess that's only because it IS so darn good. And versatile. Different veg.? Rice instead of noodles? Que sera sera. It's all good!

                                                            2. re: HLing

                                                              Better late than never. And it could not be more true in your case, since I'm the o.p. and I do desperately need your recipe for "Ants on a Tree" because I've got some glass noodles and have no idea how to use them. I sent the husband who is the object of all tour loving creativity (if only he knew!) out to get some rice stick noodles and he came home with bean thread instead. It was going to be for one of my standards, and another great use for ground meat - ground beef fried with scallions, soaked sliced dried shitaki mushrooms, garlic, sliced baby bok choy or napa cabbage. Combine with cooked and drained rice stick noodles, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, a little sugar, a little hot sauce. Yummy yummy!!!
                                                              Now, how do you make "Ants on a Tree"?

                                                              1. re: niki rothman

                                                                somehow my reply got deleted..don't know why. I won't try again. Look up Mayi Shang Shu and you'll see some links.

                                                            3. sloppy joes...americas test kitchen has a great recipe

                                                              1. I'm going to leave all you wonderful generous chowhounds hanging, like the last episode of the "Sopranos". It just would not be fair to tell. Dinner was delicious, and for all your wise and imaginative advice I thank you from the bottom of my cholesterol filled heart - one and all.

                                                                12 Replies
                                                                1. re: niki rothman

                                                                  I will tell what I ended up making that was inspired by this thread ;)

                                                                  Ground bison
                                                                  generous amount of chopped onion & garlic
                                                                  diced Granny Smith
                                                                  Seasoned with soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, black & white pepper, cayenne, fines herbes, thyme, garlic powder

                                                                  over miniature de Cecci bowtie pasta
                                                                  with grated imported Parmesan

                                                                  yummy!

                                                                    1. re: niki rothman

                                                                      Thanks ;) To totally come clean, I was going to make meat pies. I made the filling first, and I was hungry, so I put lunch together as above as a stop-gap measure. When I made the pastry, I did make one meat pie with some of the filling, and decided I liked it the stop-gap way much better, so reverted :)

                                                                      As far as the bison ... I've said it before & will say it again ... it always has enough fat for me, but I always bought the leanest beef I could find before, so I have never changed my cooking methods. I always use a bit of a different fat to saute the veggies before adding the meat--I forget what I used in this case, probably olive oil or organic butter. As for the flavor, I wouldn't call it gamey--I'd say just this side of gamey. If you're really paying attention, you could tell it wasn't beef, but if not ... it's just a nice, intense flavor. This recipe is mildly flavored, really--the parmesan has more kick than the meat.

                                                                      PS So I guess I should explain my cooking method. I never use more than medium heat. I always saute some combination of veggies first, always including onion, and then throw the meat into the pan in a hunk (oh, and I also ask the butcher not to squish it when wrapping). Soy sauce (or Worcestershire), salt, black pepper, freshly ground white pepper. And then I break it up, and I basically don't leave until the pink is gone, and then I turn the heat down. Found many years ago that it was super-important not to walk away from low-fat beef if you want it to be tender. I can't really explain the effect that I hate so much, but I guess you could call it a tough edge. If I were more patient, I'd turn the heat down even lower. I also don't drain the meat--I have always thought that was a really misbegotten idea, because you're losing the juices too.

                                                                    2. re: foiegras

                                                                      Niki, tell me about bison. I've never tried it.

                                                                      1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                        it's great-- very game-flavorful, meaty taste-- but it is extremely lean compared to ground beef, so you have to bear that in mind when adjusting a recipe--

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          "Game-flavorful" like venison (most of which needs artful seasoning, IMO) or moose (which has virtually no gamey taste--at least the few samples of it I've lucked into)?

                                                                          1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                            the bison should taste like very "beefy" grass-fed beef, but more flavorful imo. it shouldn't need strong seasoning, but might need help with additions of fattier meat (mix w ground pork for burgers) or cooking method-- cooking in a sauce (like a chili), so that it doesn't dry out. can't compare it to moose-- i haven't had the pleasure. pot-roasted bison and venison are both faves at our house, though!

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              If you ever have a chance at moose, grab it. Very dark red in color--almost liver-y, but absolutely delicious, without a hint of gaminess and as moist and juicy as good beef.

                                                                        2. re: PhoebeB

                                                                          I ordered some mail order buff-burgers a while back and found bison to be sub-par. Texture, flavor, and juiciness were not up there with good, don't even think great, beef. Tends to dryness because of lack of fat. Meat is a darker color. But, caveat emptor - I only had the one experience. Could very well be another supplier offers a better product.

                                                                          Honestly, my accolades and admiration for the bison concoction was for my dazzlement at the lovely OTHER ingredients and how they were assembled - it seems an inspired recipe, BUT I would use my recently discovered favorite beef: Harris Ranch (humane treatment, absolutely delicious, beefiness) if I made that recipe for myself.

                                                                          Sorry for the confusion. I was giving love to the overall recipe NOT the species supplying the ground meat. I was working with ground turkey the night of the o.p., and whether the recipe in question would be better with bison or turkey, it's debatable. I use ground turkey ALL THE TIME (boring) for my dear husband who has cholesterol and weight issues, because I don't want to live without him. But when alone, in SECRET it's juicy, fatty beef, beef, beef for Niki.

                                                                          1. re: niki rothman

                                                                            Niki, do try my squash/green pepper/ground meat skillet one of these days. It's one of those recipes that's surprisingly better than the sum total of its ingredients. I'd like to know how it works with turkey.

                                                                            Speaking of squash, did you ever make the squash/sour cream/cheddar casserole?

                                                                            1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                              Hi Phoebe, I am convinced you are the model of the quintessential great all-American home cook. I have made your squash, green & red pep., ground meat skillet - but with tomato sauce many times and served it with something like elbow mac mixed in and grated parm. It is one of my all-time fave comfort foods. Also, it is so economical - healthy, goes a long way, and I can see where kids would love it.

                                                                              Phoebe dear, I cannot tell a lie. I have all the ingredients for your wonderful family recipe for the yellow squash casserole - eggs, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Ritz crackers, etc. EXCEPT the crucial ingredient. Since that post none of my markets have featured yellow squash. I was very hesitant to make it with zuchini which was all that was on offer. But the recipe is all hand written in my favorite "all-American" food cookbook and still, just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Don't worry when I do get to cook it, very soon I hope, you will hear all about it. Thanks again for that classic recipe.

                                                                              1. re: niki rothman

                                                                                No, not zucchini. I did it once w/half zucchini because that's all I had and it was OK but not as good. Didn't look as good, for one thing. A small % of zucchini would be fine, I think. Someone on the other thread said she used some in hers and loved it.

                                                                    3. I'm on a meaball kick -- it's all I can think of lately, I'm sure I'll recover soon. :-) I love making them in the oven, because I can make a lot at once, and it seems less fatty than frying (in my mind at least). Never used turkey.

                                                                      Add to the ground beef at least one egg (I usually use two but I usually use 1.5-2 lbs), then add about half a cup of grated parmesan and half a cup of seasoned Italian style breadcrumbs (I use progresso). Mix with your hands in a mixing bowl. Adjust breadcrumb to egg ratio so meat is wet and pliable but not gooey. Do not overmix.

                                                                      Preheat oven to 350
                                                                      Pour some breadcrumbs into a shallow, wide mug, like one for lattes or soup. Form the meatballs (about 1.5 inch diameter, or to taste), and roll each in breadcrumb cup until coated. Place on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (must be rimmed, there will be lots of oil) in the oven. After about 5 minutes, turn each meatball with tongs to brown more evenly.

                                                                      When at medium doneness -- meatballs should turn brown but not be black -- remove to paper towels. Serve as you please, but we like them plain with some salt or mozzarella on top, and especially cold! The breadcrumbs on the outside fry in the oil of the meatball, which gives them a nice crispness. (It's an Alton Brown trick.)

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                        Your meatballs sound dee-lish! For some reason reading your very interesting post reminded me that I want to learn how to make arancini - fried Italian rice balls with melted mozzarella cheese inside. They sell them as expensive appetizers in the better SF Italian restaurants, but I bet they would be really very easy to make at home.

                                                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                                                          LOL, we must be thinking alike!
                                                                          I made risotto the other night -- plain (usually I use portobellos but my husband's watching his carbs and the kids don't like mushrooms) and was telling DD about arancini for the leftovers, and she said, "Why didn't you just make it like that in the first place!" So I told her next time I'll just make the ris a day ahead and arancinis for all! I haven't tried them yet either but it seems pretty basic. . .make a ball, put a cube of mozz inside, roll in breadcrumbs and fry.

                                                                          I supposed i'd actually have to fry those, instead of doing them in the oven like my meatballs, not enough fat. . .

                                                                      2. When my kids were growing up and budget was tight, we ate lots of ground meat. One recipe that I remember making went something like this (sorry I don't know exact amts): In a heavy skillet, melt a couple tablespoons white sugar and brown the meat in it. Add some sliced onion, mushrooms and french cut green beans. When they are nearly done, add cornstarch dissolved in water and soy sauce. Serve over rice.

                                                                        1. Yesterday we made turkey burgers stuffed with goat cheese, a warm apricot salsa on top. No bun. I don't remember where I got the recipe from, but it probably originates from a PBS cooking show.

                                                                          1. Sautee some garlic and purple onion until soft.
                                                                          Add chopped dried apricots (you can also use fresh).
                                                                          Add chopped roasted peppers (if you do not have time to prep and roast these, can/jar variety work just fine). If you want your salsa on the spicy side, add red pepper flakes (totally optional). Remove from heat and let stand while you make the turkey/whatever burgers.

                                                                          I made two super huge 8 oz. burgers yesterday (1 lb. ground meat, 1 egg, some bread crumbs, salt & pepper). You can make smaller ones (four?). I used about 1/2 of a small package of chevre for each giant burger.
                                                                          Once you stuff the burgers pop them in the freezer for a little while before you broil/brown and bake (until they are cooked through, not an issue if you don't use ground turkey like I did) OR grill them (I have never grilled them so if you try this please post a post-mortem).