Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stretching Ground Beef

I've learned to stretch ground beef a bit with no complaints from my family.  I sub in cooked brown lentils for part of the ground beef when it's in a flavorful sauce - such as sloppy joe, spaghetti, or here in the picture, Korean beef.  Here I had doubled the recipe and just eyeballed the amount of cooked lentils to equal another pound of ground beef (I'm guessing 2 cups).  I added the cooked lentils when the beef was mostly cooked.


Bonus tip:  use a potato masher to chop and stir ground beef as it fries because it's much easier than trying to break it up with the side of a spoon.  I also mashed at the lentils a bit, which made them even less discernible in the dish.

However, I'm not trying to hide the beef-stretcher from my family.  They all know that the local organic beef I buy is expensive (but not when you consider our health and the environment!).


19 comments:

kyleann33 said...

I'm reading this with a snotty sick toddler on my lap. He pointed to the first lentil picture and exclaimed "Yum, sloppy joe!" I didn't know anyone else that added lentils to ground beef like I do, we've come to like the taste in addition to saving money.

Alica said...

I never thought of adding lentils to stretch ground beef, but why not?! My family does like them, so...
Thankfully we have our own beef in the freezer and have another one walking around out in the barn right now!

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Great idea! While we don't eat a lot of beef, good idea...

Becky said...

Interesting. I'd have never thought of this!

We don't eat a lot of meat, particularly beef,in our house, but I teach how to cook it in my after school cooking class. I have a number of children in that class who don't eat meat. Some are choosing to be vegetarian, some are from refugee families and have religious dietary restrictions. My cohort and myself have been brainstorming ideas for what to sub in some of our recipes for meat so that we have a meat eaters version and a non-meat eaters version. You've inspired an idea! Thank you!

Margo said...

Becky, one of my friends gave me a recipe for vegan shepherd's pie that uses super-soft brown lentils as the "gravy" with veggies under the mashed potato topping. I thought that was clever! And lentil burgers are delicious, too.

Abigail said...

What a creative idea! Do you use a cast iron pot for browning the beef? For years I've used a non-stick skillet that's so-so, and I'm looking for something different to try. Suggestions?

Margo said...

Abigail, yes, I use cast-iron pans for most of my cooking. Here you see a cast-iron Dutch oven. I love the sturdiness of the pans and I find the seasoning process easy and preferable to washing dishes (see my post here for the process: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2011/10/cast-iron-pans-are-great-and-easy-to.html). Also, cast-iron pans make iron-fortified food! I have a medium and a large Dutch oven, and small, medium, and large skillets, and a two-burner griddle. I use all of them regularly.

Sarah Barry said...

I'm going to try this because I have ground beef and lentils in my fridge and pantry.

I've found that not announcing "there are lentils in the ground beef" or "we are going to eat less meat this week" is key when trying to stretch it. Nobody notices. So why would I point it out?

Angela said...

This is useful information! I like lentils and this would be great! Eating less red meat is also good for our health.

Margo said...

Sarah, great tips!

Lana said...

Taco meat at our house is about 1/3 pinto beans so we kind of have our refried beans in our meat and it is delicious!

sk said...

Margo do you--does your palate--LIKE the stretched dish as much? I'm wondering because I like to LIKE things.

Margo said...

sk, oh yes, I like the lentil version! I agree with you: I want to eat delicious food and I rarely eat something JUST BECAUSE it's cheap or healthy.

Abigail said...

Brilliant! Thank you Margo! I just ordered a 12-inch, cast-iron, Lodge skillet for $19; seems like a great place to start my cast-iron adventures. :) Thanks again!

AmyK said...

This is a great idea. Never would have thought of it. We like to limit our meat intake, so this is perfect. We just loaded our freezer with freshly hunted venison, and I don't like to go through it too quickly. As the children grow, I am needing to double recipes more and more so we can have leftovers!

jenny_o said...

Following up on sk's question, did it take awhile to develop a taste for lentils? I've only eaten them a few times but find them unappealing - although that could be the lack of seasoning. I would like to like them!

Margo said...

jenny_o, I've been eating lentils a long time, so I don't remember. In general, I do like legumes. In your case, perhaps it's a matter of trying different ways to season them until you find something you like.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to post the vegan shepherd's pie recipe? Because that sounds delicious!
- Shannon

Margo said...

Shannon, I haven't actually made it yet! But the recipe my friend used was this one: http://minimalistbaker.com/1-hour-vegan-shepherds-pie/ When I make it, I'll report back.

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