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Substituting ground (what?) for ground beef

Hounds: I almost always use ground turkey instead of ground beef in recipes, mostly for the lower fat issue. I do realize that beef has better flavor, but make up for it with seasoning etc. I am making baked ziti for a casual get together (a gals night in), and thought about using 1/2 turkey and 1/2 beef. Someone (a chef, actually) suggested I try ground lamb, which I haven't bought in years.

So, any thoughts as to the mix I should use? 50/50 turkey/beef, 30/30/40, xxx/xxx/xxx? Add pork to the mix?



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  1. You could do pork, veal, sausage....sausage would add a nice little kick of flavor.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rizzo0904

      Chef did mention sausage but it always has too much salt. I'm trying to keep this healthy but still flavorful. So if I did sausage, I'd have to find the right ratio to pork/veal/beef.......hence my dilemna.


      1. re: rednails

        Buy or make ground pork and season it as you wish.

        1. re: c oliver

          Normally this would be a good idea but I don't think I'll have the time....

          thanks anyway

    2. I would use ground pork. It is lean, but still flavorful. If it were me, I would use half ground sirloin and half ground pork. I have never tried ground turkey and ground pork together, so I don't know if I would recommend it, but you can always try it if you're set on using turkey.

      1. Remember "beef" isn't some amoeba-like substance - what are you doing with it, what cut makes sense? For burgers, maybe get beef ground from the chuck, something with an 80/20 lean/fat mix..

        If you want to keep the food safe from risk of cross-contamination, buy a chuck roast and grind it at home.. a food processor does a decent job - just cut it into small cubes, chill them, and process them in smaller (half-pound) batches..

        And if you have any finicky eaters, just lie.. I have a friend whose girlfriend loves using Cooking Light recipes, but when she's looking away, in goes the bacon, salt-pork, heavy cream, etc...

        1. How about ground Taco Belle "meat"? :)

          1. I love ground turkey and I put it in everything. I never ever use any other ground meat and feel that combining ot with another ground meat really isn't necessiary when season properly and when there is a little bit of fat. I don't get the super lean. I do around 85- 90% otherwise it's very dry. But for years I had my teenage godsons eating turkey burgers and not even knowing it.

            1. Ground bison alone or a mix with dark meat ground turkey is very tasty.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                I agree with Gio on the suggestion of bison/buffalo, though in my experience ground chicken has more flavor than ground turkey.

                1. re: dinner belle

                  Regarding ground turkey and chicken, are you talking about 'stuff' you've ground yourself or store bought. I've only ground turkey but chicken is available all the time. Thanks.

              2. I would use Italian turkey sausage. Dark meat preferrably, as Gio suggested.

                I often use Italian sausage when an Italian-american recipe calls for ground beef or a blend. Years ago I made the Sicilian meatball recipe on Epicurious (I'm half Sicilian so I was intrigued). The recipe calls for Italian sausage and I just love the meatballs (with pine nuts and currants).

                Enjoy your "gal's night" dinner!

                5 Replies
                1. re: lynnlato

                  Just went and looked at that meatball recipe and am also intrigued. I'm going to try it with Italian turkey sausage. Thanks!

                  1. re: decolady

                    I'm a fan and use it almost exclusively now. The currants add a VERY subtle sweetness, barely noticeable. I love the pine nuts. I also loved baking them - same result as pan-frying but a lot less fat and little mess. My mother would be impressed! ;-)

                    I hope you like them, decolady!


                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Yes, I liked the idea of baking, too. It seems like it would be easier all around. I'm working on my grocery list now. :-) I've got some of Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce put up in the freezer and I might just use that with the meatballs, rather than making more sauce.

                  2. re: lynnlato

                    i LOVE that meatball recipe from Bon App├ętit, and they bake beautifully - no need for frying. i'm not a big pork eater and packaged sausage is too salty for me, so i make them with ground turkey and adjust the flavors accordingly by adding fennel seed and a couple of other herbs & spices. works like a charm!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      See that ghg, we're riding the same wave! I'll have to try them with ground turkey and fennel - yum.

                      Decolady, look at you, busting out the frozen sauce so you can keep it easy - I like it! ;-)

                  3. I have used equal parts ground turkey and ground pork. OR you could easily make your own sausage mixture from ground pork and mix that with the ground turkey. Salt control is then not a problem.

                    1. Thanks for all your replies. I think I'll look for fresh turkey sausage and then add ground pork and veal. Maybe just a teeny bit of beef, I'll decide when I get to the butcher. Doubling the original recipe means 2 pounds total so I can play around with the quantities.

                      We'll be watching the Oscars so I'm looking forward to cooking casually, instead of making a big, several-days-to-prep dinner!

                      Thanks again!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rednails

                        Isn't it so nice to whip up a casual meal with a bunch of friends instead of slaving away for days and hours on end? You get to enjoy the evening yourself too without all the pressure. Relax and have fun!

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          No kidding! I work in catering sales doing events for thousands of people at a time, so when it comes to entertaining at home, I want everything as perfect as it would be at work. My pre-Thanksgiving dinner took 4 days to do.

                          Even still, a "casual" dinner will still involve 2 days of shopping/prep, after a full week at work, including working late Friday night. Baked ziti, a huge green salad, at least 3 different roasted veggies, garlic bread, dessert....oh, and apps/munchy food. I haven't decided on those yet. I've got to spend some time looking at my recipe collection.....so many recipes, not enough opportunities to entertain.


                      2. Ground turkey usually costs more than ground chuck, but when it's on sale I use a 50/50 mix of the two for meatloaf or meatballs. The flavor is still beefy that way. I find ground turkey way too bland and not worth the effort to season it into palatability. I'd sooner have tofu.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          I've pretty much only bought ground turkey for a few years so I haven't been able to compare costs. I figure for this event, I'll go to my favorite upscale grocery store and buy fresh ground at the butcher counter. I used to make my own meatballs, using a mix of (I think) pork, veal and lamb, but it's been years since I've done that.

                          As for tofu, I haven't had much of that item that interested me. There was something at a sushi restaurant that used silken tofu and ahi tuna, but that's another story......

                          Thanks for your input. I'll be careful to check prices when I get to the market.

                        2. What were your friends thoughts about the lamb? I have some in the freezer with the thought of doing something Greek to go in a pita with the usual condiments, but the ziti idea sounds good, too. DH doesn'tneed to know what the ground meat is. I've fooled him with soy, too!

                          1. I normally mix ground turkey with ground bison. Ground pork will not lower the fat content, though the lard fat of pork is a healthier fat than suet/tallow fat of cattle and lamb.

                            1. I add liquid smoke (gasp!) to my ground turkey.

                              You could use a 90/10 beef.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Sharoneonta

                                Interesting idea, good to try for burgers. Don't think it would go over well for baked ziti.

                                But thanks for the suggestion!