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Jun 5, 2007 02:28 PM

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!

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!"


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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.

      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.


          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 =)


          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

     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...

          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!)

            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!