June 29, 2011 1:25 PM   Subscribe

What can people do* with ground beef that does not require bread or pasta?

So I'm trying to eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates and what I have right this moment is ground beef. What, exactly, do you do with ground beef that doesn't involve forming it into a compact shape and serving it in a bun or on top of a mound of spaghetti?

*'Do' in the sense of 'build into a food that a person might eat'.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (79 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
You can put it in some scrambled eggs along with some onions, peppers, and spices of your choosing (it's good with indian-type flavors, or with southern spicy-type flavors, or just with some thyme and that sort of thing)
posted by brainmouse at 1:26 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

This technically might not meet your specifications but how about plain old meatloaf. We make it with rolled oats in place of the breadcrumbs, so it's technically not "bread or pasta".
posted by tommasz at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Meatloaf, of course! Chop up some onions, some celery, maybe some tarragon and parsley, a couple eggs, salt and pepper, mix in with the meat and bake for an hour.

posted by dunkadunc at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2011

Kefta kebabs.
posted by Specklet at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]

I use it in stuffed peppers and shepherd's pie.
posted by Zophi at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011

I cut up an onion, some celery and some red or green peppers as well as some hot peppers. I brown the ground beef, drain, then add the above. I also add one can of tomato soup. A dash of salt and pepper. Cook for about another 20 minutes on simmer or low. Eat.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Taco salad might be one way to go.
posted by crapmatic at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've never had shepherd's pie with mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, but I'd imagine it would be delicious.
posted by brainmouse at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, you can eat fried meat patties without bread.
posted by rr at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Shepherd's Pie. Although that has potatoes, which is a major carb.
posted by Melismata at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011

Chili, baby, chili.
posted by shallowcenter at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [11 favorites]

meatballs, incorporate in a soup, make a breakfast hash with eggs & hot sauce, taco salad (with meat, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese & sour cream), meatloaf
posted by rdurbin at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Add peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, and spices for low-carb chili!!!!
posted by so_gracefully at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011

Taco salad
posted by mkultra at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2011

posted by flexiblefine at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2011

I'm on a similar kick, but my partner is not. He made spaghetti bolognese (or his variant of it) last night, and I just skipped the spaghetti and ate the beef bit with a salad. It was delicious!

If you google for some paleo recipe blogs, you're bound to find some yummy stuff. For example, scroll down to the beef section here: Civilised Caveman recipes.
posted by Joh at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cook some diced onion, add to beef with 1 egg, and some soy sauce. Make patties, fry it, cover it in kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce, and put a sunny-side egg on top. Nomnomnom.
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2011

Eggplant stuffed with beef. You can make it lower-carb by not using all the eggplant when you mix it back in and increase the protein by adding in walnuts. (I couldn't find the recipe I was thinking of that uses walnuts, but I think it's in one of the major low-carb cookbooks.)
posted by cobaltnine at 1:33 PM on June 29, 2011

We eat a low carbohydrate diet. I use ground beef for:

Beef Stroganoff
Shepherd's Pie
Spanish Rice with Ground Beef
Hamburger Pie
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 1:35 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cheeseburger salad is really good. It's just basically a salad of all the things you like on a cheeseburger. Ours usually consists of chopped up cheeseburgers, chopped up pickles, chopped up onions (raw or sauteed or both), sesame seeds, shredded romaine, sauteed mushrooms, and of course...bacon. Yeah. And the dressing is like McDonald's Big Mac sauce; a little mayo, a little ketchup, some relish, some pickle juice. If you want just a wee bit of carbs you can add croutons or a chopped up grilled bun.
posted by iconomy at 1:36 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

gourmet bunless hamburgers! Mix gb with dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, diced onions, garlic powder, S&P, maybe some mushrooms...and grill 'em up. Then eat with a little teriyaki or bbq sauce to dip if you like.
posted by angab at 1:41 PM on June 29, 2011

Chili, to me, would be the obvious thing. Meatloaf, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on June 29, 2011

I don't know if you're going low carb or gluten-free, but cabbage rolls are traditionally made with ground beef and a small amount of cooked rice.

Also, Pakistani curries are open to the use of beef, and there's a popular variety known a "Kima" or "keema"--usually made with potatoes, but here's a version that subs cauliflower for those.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 1:44 PM on June 29, 2011

Here's an oddball thing that mr epersonae discovered once when we had a cold: hamburger patty (basically) in tomato soup. Sometimes chopped into chunks after being cooked, sometimes with the soup as more of a garnish. Almost always with parmesan cheese. Very savory, very simple.
posted by epersonae at 1:46 PM on June 29, 2011

stuffed peppers
stuffed cabbage
more tacos
even more tacos
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make stuffed peppers with ground beef, dried fruit, a small amount of cashews, and spaghetti sauce. I put rice into the mix, but you could easily leave it out.
posted by lemonwheel at 1:48 PM on June 29, 2011

This (Moroccan Spiced Beef Patties) is a good variation on a sort of hamburger that I like, you can serve it with couscous, or just with some sort of veggies on the side I expect.
posted by katers890 at 1:52 PM on June 29, 2011

My mom used to combine ground beef with leftovers, so we often had things like the ground beef with onion and peppers above. Or ground beef with a little tomato sauce and corn. Or ground beef "stew". Or ground beef with onions and mexican spices or indian spices. There was rarely a carb, it just got served in a bowl with a salad on the side (and was pretty tasty).
posted by ldthomps at 1:54 PM on June 29, 2011

posted by Flood at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2011

For lunch today I had a ground beef burrito. I also like it in rice dishes but that doesn't solve your low-carb problem.

But yeah, meatballs.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:10 PM on June 29, 2011

Bind together ground meat and chopped (very finely) leftover or fresh vegetables with a beaten egg or two, drop in hot oil and cook until edges are brown. Turn with a spatula and finish cooking. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Another use would be as filling for a omelette, with plenty of cheese to make stick.
posted by francesca too at 2:12 PM on June 29, 2011

This is one of my favorites - I was making a chili once and was disappointed that my tomatoes were gone, so I used tomato paste instead and it turned out better than before!

1 lb ground beef
1-1.5 small cans tomato paste
2-3 oz. cheese - I prefer smoked cheddar
spices to taste, I like Tabasco. Chili powder is also good.

Cook ground beef in a pot, add the tomato paste and spices, stir. Add cheese. Done!
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:12 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't think anyone has said lettuce wraps yet. You can do mexican or asian flavors and just wrap it up in a big lettuce leaf. I like using green leaf or butter lettuce.
posted by shortyJBot at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My family makes this beef and bean dish. I think we got it out of some 1970s meat cookbook. It has sugar in it, though.
posted by cabingirl at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2011

Stuffed grape leaves are usually stuffed with lamb, but ground beef works fine, too.
posted by paulsc at 2:18 PM on June 29, 2011

Mmmmm, kibbeh! Often made with ground lamb, but beef works great too. Here's one recipe just as an example.
posted by mauvest at 2:19 PM on June 29, 2011

I eat low-carb, and I usually just wrap my burgers and all the trimmings in a big leaf of romaine lettuce. Messy, yet delicious! A carb-free Salisbury steak is another great option.

I also recommend keema mattar (spiced beef with peas, very tasty), Finnish cabbage rolls (I omit the barley/rice and substitute chopped mushroom), and spaghetti sauce (if you serve this over sauteed broccoli slaw it's a complete meal, and a convincing substitute for regular spaghetti).
posted by vorfeed at 2:21 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Season and fry with minced garlic, diced onion, diced celery and diced green pepper and use to stuff an omelette, along with some cheese. Add minced jalapeno, cumin, cinnamon and crushed coriander for Mexican flavor and serve with fresh salsa or a few sprigs of cilantro.
posted by Hylas at 2:22 PM on June 29, 2011

I do stuffed peppers (no rice), but really ground beef just fried up "loose" and mixed with any seasonings or veggies you like makes an awesome meal by itself and you can customize it endlessly. Cheese is always good to add, but it adds a bunch of calories and you really can get away without it. Add beans if you like, I often do to add some fiber and cut the fat. Add-ins can include tomato paste, olives, etc. You can eat it hot or put it on top of lettuce (no taco shell).
posted by mrs. taters at 2:23 PM on June 29, 2011

Beef Stroganoff with grated cauliflower rice. (Mastering cauliflower rice will help enormously in cooking low carb. It takes practice.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:26 PM on June 29, 2011

Add it to a can of coconut milk, some curry paste (I like masaman curry, but there are lots of options) and whatever vegetables are lying around in your fridge. Season if it suits you (cardamom, cumin, maybe a dash of sugar, some tamarind juice if you have it, bay leaves are always nice.) Simmer for a while.

This has become my go-to "Oh god the meat's thawed and I have no idea what to do with it" dish. I am a big fan. Works with beef, chicken, pork, whatever's handy. Always tasty, plenty filling, gluten- and dairy-free, and makes the house smell nice.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Thai basil beef served over cauliflower rice. We LOVE it. Grass fed ground beef really tastes better in it (can be found at Trader Joes or Whole Foods).
posted by pekala at 2:33 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, chili. I'm incapable of making small amounts of chili, but:

2 25-oz cans of diced tomatoes
1/3 lb dry beans (soak 'em overnight) or cheat with 2-3 15oz cans of beans

I usually end up putting in carrots, celery, onions, bell peppers, and hot peppers; I've sometimes put mushrooms in it, corn, green beans ... really, it's so hard to fuck up chili it's ridiculous. A friend makes his with vodka and pineapple.
posted by Heretical at 2:34 PM on June 29, 2011

Stuffed mushrooms. You can spice up the meat, sautee it, and include it in the mushrooms.
posted by astapasta24 at 2:34 PM on June 29, 2011

Bolognese. Serve it over veggies, eat it as soup, or, my fave: poach eggs in it. Fill a pan about halfway with the sauce and get it simmering, then use the back of a spoon to create a couple of divets in the sauce. Crack eggs into those divets and cook to your desired doneness. Double the protein, more than double the fun!
posted by telegraph at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2011

Purists might balk at the use of beef in moussaka, but it works just as well as lamb, I promise.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2011

Joe's Special, the San Francisco sloppy ground beef frittata thing. It's pretty tasty.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:52 PM on June 29, 2011

Thai larb is amazing and low carb.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:56 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh forgot to say, I never add the rice to the dish, my low-carb larb always tastes phenomenal.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:56 PM on June 29, 2011

It's not everyone's cup of tea, but if it's fresh, high-quality beef and you've ground it yourself I'd make steak tartare. Otherwise, seconding burger and taco salads, and Asian lettuce wraps, too. (I've also found that virtually any Asian concoction works well as a salad.)
posted by Room 641-A at 3:00 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are low-carb folks who swear by meatza. Never tried it so can't speak from personal experience, but I've always found the idea amusing.
posted by chez shoes at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have done the meatza, and find it unconvincing. It's tasty enough (I used this recipe,) but not at all like pizza.

I did like this rather a lot, though.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:15 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

My Italian mother does a mean stuffed zucchini with ground beef. This kind of stuffed zucchini, scooping them out and leaving them whole, it's a bit more difficult to do that without breaking them but they're softer than the kind where you slice the zucchini in half lengthways, because the stuffing cooks entirely inside. Yummy. The recipe linked from that blog is actually Lebanese and involves rice too, but in everything else it's very similar.

Or closer to this one I guess (except for the slicing in half part). No rice, no tomato sauce. Just zucchini, ground beef, one or two eggs, garlic if you like it, some grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan, or, well, purists will hate me but you could do it with a nice mature cheddar too). Breadcrumbs are sometimes added to the stuffing, but not necessary. You don't want the stuffing too dry. If it is dry, add some milk*. Oh, and I would recommend mixing the ground beef with cooked ham, a few slices cut in small pieces. Also, for the sliced in half version, add a little bit of grated cheese on top.

(*Actually hmm traditional recipes do not use dry breadcrumbs to add to the stuffing, but a bit of soft white bread, "mollica", the inside of the bread, without the crust, like the inside of a french baguette, slightly soaked in milk and then squeezed).
posted by bitteschoen at 3:18 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try making meatloaf using almond flour.
posted by hanoixan at 3:50 PM on June 29, 2011

Scotch egg
posted by leigh1 at 3:59 PM on June 29, 2011

Kofta Curry. I don't know what recipe my mother uses, or I'd link it here. This looks good.
posted by knile at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2011

Cheesy Beef-Stuffed Zucchini. The recipe I have is a Cook's Illustrated one, from their Summer 2011 30-minute Suppers issue:

preheat oven to 425 degrees
half 4 zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and most of the middle
rub with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper
put cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about 8 minutes until softened
take out of the oven and put cut side up in a baking dish
cook about 1 cup diced onion and garlic until soft, then add 3/4 lb ground beef and cook until browned
add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup chopped basil, and 1 cup shredded cheese (provolone or mozzarella)
stuff zucchini halves with the mixture
mix remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs with 1/2 cup grated parmesan and top zucchini
bake until the topping is golden, about 8 minutes.
Protein and vegetable!! It's delicious.
posted by belau at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nearly any veggie stir-fry/mixed-grill type dish will take a little bit of ground meat really nicely. You see this a lot in Chinese cooking — where it's usually pork and not beef, as far as I've seen — but anyway it works just as well with beef.

Treat it as a seasoning and not a main ingredient. (Add it like you'd add crumbled bacon to green beans, and that oughta be about right.) Won't totally use up a big supply of ground beef, but it'll add a nice protein boost to otherwise vegetarian stuff.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2011

Mince and tatties (low on the tatties for your current purposes)
posted by kmennie at 4:28 PM on June 29, 2011

When we were young and my parents were on the poor side, my mom would make hamburger soup - brown the 'burg with some onions, drain, add some tomatoes/tomato paste/a little pasta sauce, some water with maybe a little boullion, some chopped up broccoli, sometimes a little cabbage, and salt and pepper to taste. It was cheap, fast, and surprisingly tasty.
posted by takoukla at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2011

I like to eat spaghetti sauce on top of broccoli instead of pasta. You could theoretically sub in whatever kind of veggies you like, although to me stuff like broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans make a better base than, say, zucchini or carrots (which seems like eating plain spaghetti sauce with carrots stirred in, but I suppose you could julienne them or something and get the same effect).
posted by solipsism at 4:43 PM on June 29, 2011

Eggplant parmesan with layers of ground beef in it. Yum!
posted by lollusc at 5:25 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I made small beef patties spiced with berbere and ate 'em wrapped in especially pliable leaves of Romaine once. It's not something I'd serve guests, but it was tasty and very low-carb.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:04 PM on June 29, 2011

Another variation on Shepherd's Pie--last week I made it and used a pumpkin puree instead of potatoes. That may sound weird but here in Brazil we use pumpkin in savory dishes (like soups and stews) quite a bit. It was just steamed pumpkin, blended with a little plain yogurt for creaminess. I sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. It was delicious and well-received.
posted by wallaby at 6:11 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mapo tofu.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:05 PM on June 29, 2011

I've never had shepherd's pie with mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, but I'd imagine it would be delicious.

It is awesome. I find the best way to "mash" the cauliflower is to run it in the food processor for a while; this makes a creamier, more mashed-potatoey product than just mushing it up with a fork or ricer. Also, you want to make it mushy, so cook it good and long, way longer than you would if you were just eating it as florets.
posted by Opposite George at 8:18 PM on June 29, 2011

I made Peruvian stuffed potatoes this weekend and gave some to the neighbors. They ended up taking all my leftover ground beef stuffing home with them, as well. Recipe in English (I skipped the raisins.)
posted by bentley at 8:24 PM on June 29, 2011

Go ahead and make a great spaghetti sauce, but substitute spaghetti squash for the noodles. Or get a julienne peeler and use it to make low-carb zucchini spaghetti 'noodles'. Or a regular peeler to make wide flat zucchini 'noodles' for lasagna.
posted by marsha56 at 9:39 PM on June 29, 2011

Beef and Veggie Skillet is one of my favorite easy low-carb/ high vegetable dinners. (Gotta get those veggies in!) Fry up a pound of ground beef with a clove or two of minced garlic in a big skillet. Add a half an onion, diced. Slice up and add in some mushrooms, bok choy and maybe zucchini or bell peppers, or whatever other veggies you have on hand. I sometimes sub fresh spinach in for the bok choy. Mix it all up and cook for about 5 minutes to soften up the veggies. Add in two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes and whatever seasoning you like and simmer for about 10 minutes untill it's not too liquidy. Serve it up in a bowl with some salt, pepper and shredded cheese on top.

The beauty of this recipe is how flexible it is. If I'm in the mood for Italian, I'll use ground pork sausage or cut up Italian sausages and add Italian seasoning and mozzerella cheese. Other days I use ground beef, Mexican seasoning, diced tomatoes with green chilies and jack cheese for a Mexican flavor. I'm sure there are plenty of other variations you could come up with!
posted by platinum at 11:39 PM on June 29, 2011

Spring rolls: ground beef, minced green onions, carrots, soy sauce, salt and pepper, with the mixture held together by beaten egg. Wrap in spring roll skin (or dimsum wrapper), then deep fry. Dip in sweet and sour sauce.

Also: Tofu and Leek Stir-Fry with Ground Beef.
posted by pleasebekind at 11:46 PM on June 29, 2011

Growing up, I ate lots of martabak and it is delicious. Which, come to think of it, is basically what pleasebekind suggested, so consider this a second vote.
posted by daelin at 7:29 AM on June 30, 2011

Picadillo! It's a Cuban/Central American/South American beef stew/hash.
posted by Iridic at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2011

you can stuff any stuffable veggie with it (cook it with spices, onions, maybe rice or dried fruit and nuts first) and broil or whatever. fill grape leaves. Joe's Special is usually made with lighter ground meat, but is fine with beef (ground meat, spinach, egg, maybe mushroom--recipes should be easy to find). and red sauce with ground beef is just as good on rice as pasta, imo. and if you want to ditch the bun, you can still make burgers but the kind you don't mind eating alone with knife and fork--usually more asian-seasoned or with fruit or minced bell pepper in the patty or meatball. speaking of, swedish meatball-type stuff, with cream or cheese too.
posted by ifjuly at 9:53 AM on June 30, 2011

oh, and soup--instead of chicken soup, do soups with beans and greens and small parcooked meatballs or even free floating meat.
posted by ifjuly at 9:54 AM on June 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone--these are perfect. Just what I was looking for. Lots of things to try as I attempt to figure out how on earth a person gets a significant amount (100g or more???) of protein in a day.

(Best-answered last night's eventual dinner!)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:25 PM on June 30, 2011

i totally feel your pain and to be honest found i personally just can't reliably do it without "cheating" and giving myself a leg up with whey protein powder in a glass of milk first thing in the morning (30g, boom). or occasional other cheats like a protein bar (with at least 20g) as a snack, etc. even cooking meat, eggs, tofu, pulses, whatever all the time, it was just impossible to do without overstuffing myself without the powder.
posted by ifjuly at 5:44 PM on June 30, 2011

Use any recipe for any meat (hamburger or other) that would have the grains or starches in it and use that as your flavour palette. Make it the same way, but omit the flour, grain and starch and just enjoy the intense flavour part. If it's thickened with a roux (or flour), thicken it with pureed veggies and move on. Decide whether it would be better to use it crumbled or in meatball form. Sometimes I just cook hamburger, onions and garlic with salt on sheets in the oven and store it in the fridge or freezer.

Also, hamburger with hamburger patty style spicing (and especially some liquid smoke) can be made into amazing jerky (with or without ground almonds in it).

Additionally, I make a lot of recipes that are grain free with lots of egg whites. For example, I make pumpkin custard (think pumpkin pie without the crust) made with pumpkin, coconut milk (I'm dairy free too), egg whites and spices, cooked in the microwave (could do in the oven too). I eat it for breakfast or a snack.
posted by kch at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2011

Make Layered Cabbage Casserole - Kyabetsu no Kasaneni. You won't be sorry.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:47 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Khousa Mashi, a traditional Middle Eastern dish. Hollow out some zucchinis, throw in some rice/meat/spices and bam, taste bud explosion.
posted by northxnorthwest at 12:36 AM on July 5, 2011

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