Browning Ground Beef: Three Methods
The USDA estimates that the annual ground beef consumption of the average American is over 53 pounds. (That makes it the second most popular meat, behind chicken, which is surprising given the growing number of vegans and vegetarians. This leads us to believe that a refresher course in browning ground beef is in order. Spaghetti sauce, pizza, casserole, and other family favorites are all open to experimentation and mastery. Read on for a comprehensive guide to browning ground beef from frozen, whether in an Instant Pot, a skillet, or an oven, as well as helpful hints for ensuring the food safety of your ground beef dishes.
Browning a pound of ground beef in a skillet is probably the quickest and easiest solution if you're cooking for a family of four to six. However, an Instant Pot or sheet pan can save the day when browning ground beef in large quantities for a group dinner.
Three methods for preparing ground beef are outlined below.In the words of Jason Donnelly
The best way to brown one pound of ground beef.
Cook the ground beef in a 23-dollar (at Target) nonstick skillet over medium heat. The key to properly browning ground beef is to use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon (, Amazon) to break up the meat into pieces of uniform size as it cooks. This guarantees uniform browning of the ground beef.
A helpful hint from the test kitchen is to heat a small amount of cooking oil (about 1 to 2 tsp) before adding the ground meat, especially if your skillet isn't nonstick. ) in the pan over moderate heat Add the ground meat when the oil is hot. The meat is less likely to stick to the pan if you do this.
Recommended Use: Browning 1–2 lbs. of Ground Beef
Fill the Instant Pot ($100 on Amazon) with one cup of water. Place the trivet or rack that came with your Instant Pot inside, then add the ground beef that you just thawed.
The raw ground beef could also be placed in a metal steamer basket and steamed. The holes are smaller in diameter than the trivet, so your food won't fall through. In our trial kitchen, the pre-crumbled steamer basket method fared the best. Pressure cook for 6 minutes for 1 pound and 10 minutes for 2 pounds at high heat. (Instead, set the timer for 30–40 minutes to cook one pound of frozen ground beef. )
After the pressure has dropped naturally, carefully remove the lid and shred the meat with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Similarly to how you would prepare ground beef in a skillet, Dutch oven, or saucepan, you could use the sauté setting on your multicooker to cook and stir the meat.
When defrosting ground beef, keep in mind that the shape of the meat as it enters the pressure cooker will affect the total cooking time. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer (about $15 from Target; 160 degrees F is safe). Using this method, we discovered there was still some pink, but an internal meat thermometer reading of over 160°F meant it was safe to eat.
Two pounds of ground beef can be browned most efficiently.
- Set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wrap aluminum foil around a large sheet pan ($20, Crate & Barrel).
- Cut the meat into pieces of about an inch or less using a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add more foil to the dish, and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove foil, break up meat even more, and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes (or until meat is fully and evenly browned).
- Mix and wait 1-2 minutes to eat.
- Beef fat can be drained off or removed using a slotted spoon; the fat can then be left in the pan and thrown away.
Any of these methods for browning ground beef from frozen can be used. Following these guidelines and cooking it within four months of purchase, as recommended by the USDA, will ensure that it is safe to eat. ) So if you want to brown frozen ground beef, just start with these steps before you begin the ones listed above:
- Cooking time from thawing frozen ground beef is one to two days in the fridge.
- In a hurry The microwave is an efficient way to speed up the defrosting process for ground beef. Prepare the meal right away, as "hot spots" can develop while defrosting and cause uneven cooking.
When checking the doneness of meat, use your eyes as a guide: there should be no pinkish parts visible. (Remember that the safe temperature for meat is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so a little pink is OK.) )
A pound of ground beef takes about 7 to 10 minutes to brown on the stove. For even cooking, keep stirring the ground beef with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula ($10, Bed Bath & Beyond) and breaking up the pieces into the same size.
To fully brown ground beef in an Instant Pot (or multicooker), it takes 6 minutes under high pressure, plus time for the pressure to release naturally.
After 25 to 30 minutes in the oven, your ground beef should be evenly browned and ready to be used in sloppy joes, tacos, casseroles, and other ground beef dishes.
The last step is to drain the fat once the ground beef has been browned. Avoid splashing yourself (the fat will be hot).
- Gently tip the cooking vessel so the fat liquid drains to one side.
- The meat should be transferred to a plate or bowl lined with paper towels and pushed to one side of the pan before being removed with a slotted spoon.
- The beef is now ready for your favorite recipes after the paper towels have absorbed any remaining fat.
- The remaining fat must be allowed to cool completely before being disposed of. The fat can also be cooled slightly, poured into a can or glass jar, and allowed to solidify before being thrown away.
A helpful hint from our test kitchen is to not dispose of the fat down the sink drain.Jacob Fox
Different types of ground beef (or "hamburger beef," as it's sometimes called) can be found in most supermarkets. The amount of fat, the amount of lean meat, and the lean-to-fat ratio of ground beef are typically labeled in most grocery stores. An 80/20 split of beef, for instance, would be labeled as 20% fat, 80% lean. In accordance with USDA guidelines, no water, phosphates, binders, or extenders may be added to any product labeled "hamburger" or "ground beef," and the fat content may not exceed 30%.
Consumers may be misled into thinking that ground beef with a higher fat content is a better value because of its lower price. Keep in mind that ground beef that is high in fat will shrink considerably during cooking, leaving you with less meat. What should we do then? No one choice is optimal because one must compromise flavor for health. Those watching their calorie intake should select leaner cuts of meat, but this choice comes at the expense of some flavor. For those on a ketogenic diet who prefer a higher fat content, ground beef in the 70/30 range is a better choice. Ground beef with a fat content of 85% lean and 15% fat is commonly recommended because it imparts a robust beef flavor without being too greasy or drying out during cooking.
The origin of the meat used to make ground beef is another factor that can be included on the label. Round, sirloin, and chuck are the three most popular cuts of beef used for this purpose, from leanest to fattiest. Ground beef, once purchased, can be kept in the fridge for up to two days. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or a freezer bag ($4, Target) if you haven't eaten it in two days, and you can keep it frozen for up to three months. (Here's our comprehensive guide to storing food safely. )
You now have the complete set of cooking skills necessary to prepare ground beef perfectly. So, start serving up 20-minute ground beef recipes, beef and rice bowls to join the meal-in-a-bowl trend, or add to salads or pasta dishes to up the protein content and make them more weeknight-friendly.
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