Draining Ground Beef
September 20, 2004 8:52 AM   Subscribe

What's the "chef way" to drain ground beef?
posted by smackfu to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
I usually use something similar to this. Mine's steel mesh, but it's the same general idea.

I don't know what "real chefs" do, but I'm an experienced amateur, and this works really well for me. I pour the drained fat into an old metal bowl and then when it's cooled, I pitch it.
posted by padraigin at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2004

That would work, or a colander. Real chefs don't cook much with ground beef, though.
Keep in mind that a good deal of the beef flavor is in the fat you're draining out, so leave a little.
posted by beagle at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2004

Start with lean beef, there's less juice that runs out of it, and because it sautes instead of steams, develops a nice brown crust rather than a pallid gray boiled look. Tastes better and looks better.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2004

definitely. i don't buy anythin g excpet ground sirloin if i'm going to cook. less fat, better taste. no need to drain at all. it's worth the extra buck a pound.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2004

I'd be careful with going too lean though--you will jump over the "tastes and looks better" and straight into "tastes and looks like mouse poop".
posted by padraigin at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2004

Hmmm, I was always of the impression that fattier beef releases more grease, which helps in the whole fry-vs-steam thing.

I use a sieve or a chinoise just because the size is easier.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2004

If you cook a lot with ground beef, you should definitely consider getting a grinder and making your own. It tastes better, it is less prone to infection (a lot of the infections spread because parts from many different animals go into industrial ground meat products), you can be sure of what you're getting, and you can balance the fat proportions to your liking. You can also grind different kinds of meat together (and spices), and if you're so inclined, you can make your own sausage without too much trouble.

Hand grinders are pretty inexpensive, or if you've got a kitchenaid mixer, the grinder attachment for that is VERY convenient.
posted by Caviar at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2004

So-called "Diet" lean ground beef will often have a lot of water in it, and will indeed steam too much, so try to find out from the butcher at your supermarket if water is added to their leanest grind. Of course, you can still use it, but you'll want to drain off the water sooner than you might drain off fat.

Of course, it also depends on what you're making -- if the ground beef is staying crumbled up and added to something with a sauce, it's probably not as important as when you're maknig something where the highly-touted Maillard Reaction is desired (like a hamburger or sometimes meatballs)
posted by briank at 12:10 PM on September 20, 2004

Hey briank - thanks for mentioning that. I had never heard of it and googled: who knew the browning of beef, the color of beer and fake tans are all related? Cool!
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:17 AM on September 21, 2004

If you cook a lot with ground beef, you should definitely consider getting a grinder and making your own.

This is something we do when we're camping. A frozen steak keeps a lot longer in a cooler than hamburger does. So we get our butcher to cut a cheap roast into 1" steaks and then we freeze them. When the steaks thaw out about day two or three we run them thru the hand grinder and voila, hamburger which is at lot easier to eat, and requires less cleaning, than steak when you camping. Hamburger prepared this way is very lean if you choose the right source.

John Delorean tells a story in his book about Henry Ford only eating hamburgers in the executive cafeteria; and that being the only place he would eat them. John convinces the chef to tell him what makes his hamburgers so good and the chef demonstrates by dropping a tenderloin into a grinder and making a hamburger patty.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 AM on September 21, 2004

Alton Brown's show on ground beef claimed that supermarkets that make their own ground beef use the best bits left over from the carved steaks (prime rib, sirloin, etc...) and that a decent amount of fat is neessary for taste.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2004

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