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Why is my ground beef always chewy?

SO and I often throw together quick meals at night with ground beef + other ingredients available. However, I can't figure out why when I cook ground beef in a pan it always has a chewy texture. Is the heat too high? What's going on? I have noticed this result with beef ranging from not only 96/4 but even with 90/10 and 85/15

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  1. Is there a lot of "water" in the pan? You may want to pour some of that out early on as you might be steaming your meat instead of sauteeing it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twodales

      While cooking it releases some fat and water so I probably should just pour it off?

    2. Aside from the grade of beef if you are heating ground beef to a temperature any higher than 212 F you are in fact turning the protein strands into rubber bands. That's not an 'opinion' that's a scientific fact. Any protein strand when heated higher then 212 F contracts squeezing whatever moisture/fat out. That's where all the water and fat was that as in the beef is swimming around in. For some.......even professed 'expert' cooks' this fact continues to escape them. "Low and slow' is now becoming the recognized way to cook all protein. Ever made 'rubbery' fried or scrambled eggs? Same thing applies.
      You can 'Youtube' and 'goggle' thousands of items demonstrating the 'low and slow' method.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Puffin3

        heyyy, I learned something this morning. Great answer puffin!

        1. re: Puffin3

          I've never heard the argument for "low and slow" put in better terms! Thanks!

          My customers flock to our restaurant for the roast beef -- cooked on high just for an hour to kill surface germs, then "low and slow - 160 degrees for about 8-10 hours."

          Even the most undesirable cut of meat is rendered a tender, pink, medium-rare, concentrated hunk of beefy goodness.

          1. re: Puffin3

            Wow, so much agreement on this! But I use a high heat for scrambled eggs when I want them to have big fluffy curds, and cook them low and slow when I want creamy scrambled eggs to spread on toast.

            I love grilling, broiling, and stir-frying but I also love my slow-cooker and dutch oven. So when you say "Low and slow is now becoming the recognized way to cook all protein," what are you contrasting it to? Which methods are low and slow cooking replacing?

            1. re: ceb

              How about this method?
              "Preheat your oven to 475 F. Tightly cover the roast with tin foil. Because the roast weighs five pounds that means.....let's see...X minutes per pound at 475 F means you leave the roast in the oven for 5 hours right?. For the last hour remove the tin foil so the outside gets a nice dark brown 'shoe leather' texture and the inside is a nice gray color."
              Like THAT method.
              There's ten of thousand of 'recipes' like this one out there.
              Millions of potentially delicious prime rib roasts have met this sad fate.

          2. What type of ground beef are you using? If you are using extra lean it will be dry and chewy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ruthie789

              I think I mentioned above that it has happened with 96% but also with 85% which is why I assumed it had something to do with my method.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Do you manipulate the meat a lot? If so that could be your problem overmixing especially for meatloafs and the like. I find that the quality of meat varies even within the same store from one week to the next. Sometimes the meat is tender other times horrible and when heating it gets a hard texture on the surface. I heat my pan beforehand but lower the temperature once the meat hits the surface to try and avoid the dark and tough texture that develops with high heat. I use a medium heat with some success.

                1. re: Ruthie789

                  Oooh, perhaps this is it. I'm not sure if it's overmanipulation as I've seen most other people do the same but I tend to let it cook a bit and then separate the chunks into smaller crumbles as it cooks.

            2. I haven't actually ventured into pan cooked ground beef since this thread. I plan to tonight. Do you think it'd improve to add beef to pan at medium high heat, let warm and mix occasionally? any other tips?

              1 Reply
              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Heat your pan to high and then add meat and lower to medium. You need the initial heat to as your pan will lower in heat once the meat is added. You do not want to boil your meat, you do want to fry it. I break up the meat from the beginning with a spiral tool I purchased from the pampered chef and then mix from time to time.

              2. Success, thank you! I did just as most of you mentioned. High heat pan, add the meat, turn it down. I tried to gauge the temperature by ear - quiet sizzle but kept it low enough so I didn't hear the sizzle across the kitchen. It worked like a charm. Simple skill much improved.

                1. The butcher or meat dept. that processed the ground beef put in cuts that had gristle or silver skin still in them. This will make even the highest quality ground beef chewy after being cooked. I do know that Food Lion is notorious for this. I recommend you find another store for your meats!