How to cook ground beef and season it for any dish, like the low-carb shepherd's pie pictured above. A few aromatic vegetables like diced onions and minced garlic go a long way in the flavor department. If you're staring at a frozen block of ground beef, check the notes for tips on how best to cook it straight from the freezer.
And here's a recipe for a simple parsnip purée, that I make to top an easy, low-carb shepherd's pie. Spread the purée over ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dried rosemary, dried thyme, and a few splashes of beef stock of bone broth. Mix in a small amount of frozen green peas with the browned beef, if you like. Bake the shepherd's pie in an oven-safe dish for 20 to 30 minutes at 350° F, until the purée is nice and brown, and it's hot throughout. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a week.
- 1-1½ pounds of ground beef, pastured, grass-finished, and/or organic recommended
- kosher or flake salt
- ½ any onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- or at a minimum let it sit out on the counter for at least 15 minutes before cooking. Placing cold meat in a hot pan will shock it, and the beef proteins will seize and toughen.
- Mince the garlic and dice the onions, and set aside. Gather all your equipment.
- For a pound or so of ground beef, choose about a 10-inch shallow pan, or the largest skillet you own. A cast-iron skillet or stainless steel pan works best. Non-stick skillets work, too, however, the coating doesn't allow for as much browning.
- For crispier beef, preheat your pan over medium-high heat.
- Drop the block of ground beef in the pan, and break it up immediately with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula.
- As the meat cooks break it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, but there is no need to stir constantly. The less you stir, the more the beef will brown and crisp.
- Cooking the ground beef until no more pink remains. Turn the heat down if it begins to brown excessively. Cook ground beef to 165° F (if it's brown throughout and the juices run clear, you're there). The temperature reference for well-done beef is more important when it comes to burgers and meatloaf.
- Season the cooked ground beef with salt, to taste. That simply means season with a pinch of salt, then taste and see if you'd like it saltier. Repeat until your taste buds are happy.
- Cooked, seasoned ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen for six months in a conventional freezer.
Using Other Ground Meat
This method for browning ground beef is also the same for ground white meat like turkey and chicken, too. Be sure to add ample oil to the pan before cooking with leaner meat.
Unless you've chosen a very lean ground beef such as 93/7, you shouldn't need to oil the pan. The fat in the beef needs a bit of time on the heat to render out, so if the beef sticks at first, simply splash a little water in the pan. This will loosen the crisped bits, and the water will quickly evaporate out as you continue to cook.
If you are cooking a very lean cut or want your ground beef extra crispy, a couple of tablespoons (about) of oil in the pan can help. When choosing cooking oil, olive and avocado oils are the most nutrient-dense. Avocado oil is also more stable at high temperatures, although newer research claims olive oil isn't the weak cousin it's made out to be (take with a grain of salt). Definitely avoid processed oils like canola or blended and mystery vegetable oils. Most, if not all, contain a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that may increase your risk for chronic disease.
Cooking Ground Beef from Frozen
To cook ground beef from frozen, begin with a cold pan and add about half of a cup of water at a time to help loosen the beef. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, breaking it up as it gives way. The simmering water will send steam through the middle of the block, helping the beef thaw faster. And make it easier to deconstruct and prevent scorching.
Add more warm tap water as necessary until you can spread out all the meat and separate it into smaller pieces with a large wooden spoon or spatula.
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