Remember Henry David Thoreau, that 19th Century philosopher-writer-transcendentalist guy who lived in a cabin at Walden Pond?
He believed in living simply, with the seasons.
Even though he was right here in New England, he probably wasn't thinking about the seasons in quite the same way we do: pear tree pruning season (February), mud season (March), mowing season (April), burger-on-the-grill season (May).
I'm ready for May all year round; ground beef is a staple in my pantry freezer. I use it for more than burgers, of course, and I buy the "happiest" and leanest ground beef I can find.
Grilling season started a few weeks early this year. I wish Thoreau were still around. I'd invite him over for a burger.
What is ground beef?
In a word, it's beef that has been ground, but it's not quite that simple. According to the USDA, "beef fat may be added to hamburger, but not to ground beef. A maximum of 30% fat is allowed in either hamburger or ground beef. Both hamburger and ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders, or binders added."
How/where to store:
In the refrigerator for a day or two at most; in the freezer for 3 months; if you've bought from the supermarket, remove from the packaging and wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, or in a ziploc bag.
More facts about ground beef, and ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Ground beef (Recipe: burgers)
Chinese "spaghetti and meat sauce"
We use ground beef in many ways besides burgers. In our non-Asian house, this dish is the ultimate comfort food, just like the spaghetti and meat sauce we ate when we were kids. Serves 3-4.
8 oz fresh noodles or dry spaghetti
1 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
1/2 lb ground beef
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp chili paste with garlic
2 tsp oyster-flavored sauce
3 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
Cook fresh noodles or dry spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water, until they are just underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, then the beef, and cook, stirring and breaking up the beef as you go, until the beef is lightly browned. Add scallions and mushrooms, and continue stir-frying until the mushrooms are starting to brown. Stir in the chili paste, oyster sauce and soy sauce, then add the noodles and stir to combine everything. Top with bean sprouts, and serve hot.
Other recipes that use ground beef:
Ground beef and sauerkraut soup, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Puffy tacos stuffed with ground beef, from Homesick Texan
Indian ground beef and potatoes (keema alu), from Rainforest Recipes
Ground beef burrito bake, from Are you hungry?
Celery root mashed with sage ground beef, from La Tartine Gourmande
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