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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ground Beef Two Ways: 2 Master Meal Dinners in 30 minutes

I am not the best at the whole freezer meal thing. I have tried grocery shopping for loads of ingredients and cooking all on one day and freezing a quantity of meals for later in the month, but the effort it took to do that one big shopping trip and cooking day drained me more than the time it saved me.

I am, however, still a huge proponent of meal-planning and cooking smarter not harder. One of the ways I do this is by trying to plan at least two meals a week that revolve around the same main ingredient. Sometimes that's a rotisserie chicken (like I posted about in One Chicken Three Ways.) This week it was ground beef. As I've mentioned, I am not a fancy cook. But I have a Master Meal list comprised of a few dozen meals I can make with my eyes closed and these two are on that list.

Today I'm making Pioneer Woman's Chili and Korean Ground Beef at the same time and saving myself a night of cooking in the process. Remember the time I met Pioneer Woman and completely embarrassed myself? Good times.

The main ingredient in both these recipes is -wait for it- ground beef, so instead of browning one batch of beef tonight and the other later on in the week, I plop three pounds of beef into my large Dutch oven and brown it up with 6 cloves of garlic all at once.
Look at that. I've been at the stove for 10 minutes and both meals are under way. Editor's note: if you're into freezer meals, now would be a great time to pack this meat away into Ziplocs for use in either recipe later in the month. When you're ready to make the rest of your meal, just thaw and proceed as noted below. 

After the meat is browned I divide it with my spoon into three pie pieces and scoop 1/3 of the beef into a separate, smaller skillet.
Then I add tomato sauce and spices to the Dutch oven and return it to simmer for 1 hour.
For the Korean beef, I add brown sugar, soy sauce, fresh minced ginger, crushed red pepper and a little bit of salt and pepper to the smaller skillet.
Voila. You're done. For real.

Well, okay there's a liiittle more work to do...after the chili is done simmering you add a masa (corn) flour mixture, a can of Rotel and two cans of beans. But that's really just dumping, not cooking. The great thing about this recipe is that it can stand on its own without the addition of beans if beans aren't your thing. Beans are not B Daddy's thing, but I put them in anyway. Because they are good for you and they make the chili stretch farther. When you feed this many people someone has to make sacrifices. Since I'm the one cooking tonight it isn't going to be me.
Serve the chili with Fritos and cheddar cheese. And if by chance you should realize towards the end of this process that you are out of Fritos, do not attempt to make homemade Fritos just because you have masa flour and oil. Drive to the store and get some dang Fritos. Ask me how I know this.

Serve the Korean beef with a pile of rice and slice up a generous amount of green onions to sprinkle on top. I usually stir fry some broccoli quickly in the very same skillet to serve alongside as well.
Bonus: both of these recipes can be frozen once you've completed the cooking process.

2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 8oz can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 masa harina (corn flour, look for it near the Mexican or International food aisle)
One 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
One 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded cheddar, chopped onions and Fritos, for serving

Place the ground beef in a large pot or Dutch oven and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes too dry, add 1/2 cup water as needed.

After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and/or water to get the chili to your desired consistency or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with cheddar cheese, chopped onions (if that's your's not mine) and Fritos.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup brown sugar (use more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil (use regular oil if you're combining to make both beef recipes)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh* ginger, minced 
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced
*Fresh ginger is super important! Ginger freezes well so buy and freeze what you don't use with the skin peeled off

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown beef with garlic in the oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

Let me know if you give these recipes a go! I love hearing when you try something I've posted, the Crowd Pleaser Pasta dish I posted this fall was a big hit - I hope these are too.

Happy cooking!


  1. Looks good...i may try smarter appeals to me... I am so over cooking...but we get hungry.😉

    1. Haha! Cooking smarter is the only way I am able to pull off dinner most nights around here. That whole "getting hungry" thing is so annoying!

  2. this was fabulous! And different! And easy! Saving this recipe for sure - thanks much!!

    Regards: Eve Hunt


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