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Feb 14, 2010 04:51 PM

How do you get the fine cooked ground beef texture?

I tried making a hotdog chili this weekend, but this always baffles me when I'm cooking ground beef. When you need a really fine ground texture, how do you cook it? Usually I dump the meat in a hot pan and break it up, but as it's browning it's cooked into bigger clumps. I've seen my friend just break it up with chopsticks in a cold pan before turning on the heat. How do you get that super fine texture when you cook ground beef?

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  1. Cook it slowly. Cook it, don't brown it.
    I use a potato masher to get the breakdown going. Then, I switch to a wooden spatula or two and mince away.
    It also helps to let the meat get the chill of on the counter for 30 min. or so prior to cooking.

    1. Hi,

      First off,keep the temp low when browning.The higher the temp the faster it will clump.Your main goal is no clumping at all.

      Add the meat to a pan and cook over low heat.Use a potatoe masher to mash the meat as it is cooking.After you have the desired consistancy drain and return to the pan.Use the potatoe masher again to add your dog sauce recipe.

      PS. I prefer a round masher with holes.To each their own.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Robinez

        What kind of ground beef is best for this type of thing???, I too tried to make my own chili for hotdogs and it came out clumpy, but I will take your advice here to cook it slow!

        1. re: jkiseli

          Id use 80/20. You don't go too lean or it will be dry. 85/15 is about as lean as I would want to go.

          I also use the low temp and potato masher method.

      2. After you brown it, spoon it into a food processor and pulse it a few times, then put it back into the skillet and proceed with your recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cherylptw

          I am too lazy to clean another appliance :-)

        2. I "think" simmering it in a little water will aid in this as well. Back in the day when I would buy those seasoning packets for tacos, they always had you add water, maybe 1/2 cup, when you add the seasoning. The water cooks off, of course.

          4 Replies
          1. re: MrsJonesey

            Oh wow, didn't see your post! My experience as well!

              1. re: MrsJonesey

                I actually add a bit of beef stock for the same effect.

              2. You simmer it in water! Not kidding. That is how the texture gets so fine. You need to add lots of spice to it (but that is normal for chili). It turns more into a "hot dog sauce" when you do it this way. Here is an example of creating a Cincinnati chili using this technique:


                10 Replies
                1. re: sedimental

                  +1. When I initially saw this technique on TV (probably Triple D) I thought, "yick!", but it really works great and saves you the energy of chopping up the meat like a fiend as it's cooking.
                  Also works great for frying up chopped bacon.

                  1. re: monavano

                    Yes! Funny thing- I did this the other day for "old school" hard tacos. Remember those? The ones in the little corn shells with fine ground taco meat, then layer cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce and tomato??? I haven't had them in years and when I was following the directions on the package for the taco add water to the meat in the pan. Voila! Fine ground taco meat that won't break the fragile shells.

                    BTW, they were delish!

                    1. re: sedimental

                      I love those taco kits for Taco Night. The only problem is that I can't stop making and eating them.

                      1. re: monavano

                        Those taco kits are a guilty pleasure of ours.....

                    2. re: monavano

                      Works with chopped bacon as well? Cool! All those little pieces like to stick together which causes uneven cooking. Now, if I can only remember to do it.....

                      1. re: MrsJonesey

                        I saw Alex Guarnischelli (sp?) do this. You cut the bacon and add to a hot pan and pour water in right after. It renders the fat, separates the pieces and cooks the bacon. By the time the water is evaporated, the bacon starts browning and you have perfectly crisp pieces every time.

                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                          I usually just bake up a pound or so of good bacon, then have it in a bag in the fridge to chop up when needed. I also keep the resultant bacon grease, so can add a spoon of that, as well.

                      2. re: sedimental

                        This. When I make kheema for samosas, I always not only chop the ground beef while cooking, but also start it in a goodly amount (maybe a cup for a lb of beef) in water.

                        1. re: sedimental

                          Exactly. That is what the "pros" do when making chili dogs (thinking A&W type coney dog), they boil the hamburger.