Besides your standard tomato sauce, good sauces for ground beef?
July 4, 2013 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some different sauces for ground beef, my intention being to serve the mixture in whole roasted peppers, or lettuce wraps, sloppy joes, or some kind of creative lasagna. The only sauce I know for ground beef is the run-of-the-mill tomato sauce. I feel like other sauces for ground beef would be wierd, but there must be some good ones. Suggestions?
posted by kitcat to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I am thinking of a brown gravy sauce or a stroganoff sauce.
posted by Fairchild at 10:11 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's tomato-based, but not standard: picadillo. Can contain olives, raisins, honey, chilis, potato, spinach... depending on regional variation.
posted by xo at 10:15 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've done something similar with tzatziki. Obviously not cooked with the meat, I just used a standard gravy to give it enough juice then layer tzatziki on top!
posted by Wysawyg at 10:19 AM on July 4, 2013

I make a sauerbraten meatball recipe that has a sauce made up of beef broth, red wine, and crushed gingersnaps with raisins.

Stroganoff (sour cream and mushrooms) is another good choice, as is plain old beef gravy.
posted by briank at 10:24 AM on July 4, 2013

Sauteed onions, garlic and ginger with curry powder and coconut milk.
posted by islander at 10:41 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm unclear whether you want something to serve on top of cooked ground beef, or something in which to cook the ground beef.

If the latter (and this is for lettuce wraps), cook it in a mixture of fish sauce and soy sauce (for each pound of beef, 12 Tablespoons fish sauce and 4 teaspoons soy sauce), minced garlic (3-4 cloves per pound of beef), and minced serranos (4-ish per pound). I'd use fresh basil, mint, and/or cilantro as garnishes.
posted by jaguar at 10:42 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm unclear whether you want something to serve on top of cooked ground beef, or something in which to cook the ground beef

Either one is fine.
posted by kitcat at 10:48 AM on July 4, 2013


There's also "red meat" * which is basically pork belly simmered in water, soy sauce, star anise, five-spice, and sugar until all the broth turns into a thick sludge. It's a traditional Shanghainese recipe.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:49 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's a recipe for hong shao rou. Don't worry; the harried housewives of ye olde Shanghai were not this meticulous and everybody lived happily ever after nonetheless.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:50 AM on July 4, 2013

Something creamy with saffron, just because saffron is AWESOME.

All the recipes I can find for "creamy saffron sauce" seem to use poultry or fish, but these kofta with saffron yogurt might give you an idea or two. Or you might start with this beef saffron risotto recipe (good for the peppers option.)
posted by maudlin at 10:54 AM on July 4, 2013

Think Alfredo sauce.
Spinach & ground beef cream sauce.
Feta & ground beef sauce.
posted by travelwithcats at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2013

I just recently had stuffed peppers with ground beef, shredded carrot, lemon juice and a bit of fresh mint as the stuffing, and it was great and looked crazy simple. It's on my To Do list for stuff to recreate when I'm cooking, though I haven't had a shot at it yet.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:07 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

After I tried this Aushak recipe from Ruth Reichl, I've become a big fan of ground beef flavored with ginger and garlic. The recipe does call for some tomato paste, but it does not make the classic kind of tomato sauce. I don't really notice the tomato paste, I'll just make the meat portion of this recipe and eat it, really you can get away with just the beef and some ginger and garlic. I really like a strong ginger flavor with ground beef now.
posted by catatethebird at 11:11 AM on July 4, 2013

Ruz Lahmeh Snubar (Rice with Meat and Pine Nuts)

It's a Lebanese side dish that is excellent on warm pita or lettuce cups/wraps. Give it a dollop of laban (yogurt) or sour cream.
posted by carsonb at 11:25 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, feel free to leave out the rice.
posted by carsonb at 11:27 AM on July 4, 2013

Mushroom gravy might be good. Here's a basic recipe. I use corn starch instead of flour to thicken. And you'd probably want to chop the mushrooms rather than slice so the pieces aren't too big for your lettuce wraps.
posted by The Deej at 11:35 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Keema (Indo-Pakistani spiced ground meat). Not a sauce per se but a seasoning recipe for any ground red meat that would work well in stuffed peppers, lettuce cups, or a loose-meat sandwich. Standard weeknight comfort food when I was a kid. Also good as a filling for samosas, pies, or stuffed naan. Raita is nice as a condiment with it.

Along saucier lines, keema can also be simmered at the last with greens, like saag gosht (lamb in spinach sauce) made with minced meat instead of cubed lamb, or in meatball or loose-meat form in a malai kofta-style gravy.
posted by hat at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Swedish Meatballs with a sour cream sauce? (like Ikea?)

For lasagne you'd want the Bolognese. No tomato anywhere.

My Dad used to do SOS--(shit on a shingle). Ground meat, flour, milk salt and pepper, served on a "shingle" of toast. It's either your thing, or not, but it will feed a person or two. You can add flavor with garlic and onions.

Stuffed Cabbage, there's a tomato base, but it's not marinara sauce!

Happy eating!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2013

Pastitsio-a Greek dish kind of like lasagne might do. It has some tomato sauce in it, but it's not the dominant flavor.
posted by goggie at 11:57 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try making Cincinnati chili, but omit the canned tomato sauce from the liquid portion, in favor of a bit (1/2 to 3/4 cup) more water, or red wine, and an extra splash of cider vinegar. Before the beef is completely cooked, and all the fat rendered, add a teaspoon of arrowroot powder (or 2 teaspoon cornstarch, or a tablespoon of white flour), to thicken the final sauce, and perhaps 2 tablespoons of a good ground chili powder and a 1/2 teaspoon salt, to keep the spice ratio approximately the same. What you end up with is medium consistency, rich Sonoran style chili, suitable to serve alone (perhaps with crackers or even sourdough bread), or as an ingredient in wraps/burritos, sloppy joes, or (gulp!) even over cooked rice, perhaps even with beans and grated cheeses of your choice.
posted by paulsc at 12:37 PM on July 4, 2013

Response by poster: I'm so happy with these answers. Thank you, thank you!
posted by kitcat at 12:54 PM on July 4, 2013

For stuffing peppers, I would recommend mixing a thick bechamel into the cooked meat (+ optional sauteed onions (+ carrots & celery)) and then roasting the whole package. Bechamel has the unique quality of "setting up" but remaining creamy when baked, like in mac and cheese.
posted by STFUDonnie at 2:28 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like to do larb/laab with ground pork or chicken, but it works just as well with just about any other meat, including beef, and is perfectly matched with lettuce wraps. You can also serve it with sliced cucumbers, or on top of salad, or with jasmine rice.

You can do a Korean-style marinade with soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and green onion, plus gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) or Korean red pepper flakes to taste if you like it spicy. That would go well in lettuce wraps or roasted peppers, or a really creative lasagna/pastitsio thing with seaweed layers (gim/nori), daengmyeon noodles (sweet potato starch glass noodles), and vegetables like zucchini, spinach, carrots, and bean sprouts - assuming you have a Korean market near you.

More in this hemisphere, you could mix it with sausage/sawmill gravy (kind of like SOS) for something quite American. Or very simply, cook with onions and garlic and add tomatillo sauce or salsa verde and cook until it thickens.
posted by WasabiFlux at 4:54 PM on July 4, 2013

Asian lettuce wraps. Saute beef, stir in finely chopped ginger, garlic, and scallions. Add some soy sauce and hoisin (add spice if you desire). Finish with chopped peanuts.
posted by evalunatik at 6:06 PM on July 4, 2013

If you can find kimchi sauce/base in your area, it'll be great.
posted by Gotanda at 8:45 PM on July 4, 2013

Have you had bobotie? If not an alt-lasagna, definitely a casserole.

Seems like everyone has their own recipe, but at its heart it's essentially sauteed onions, milk-soaked bread, madras curry, garam masala, chutney and chopped fruits (like raisins, apricots and apples) baked with an egg custard on top. Kaffir lime leaves, if you have 'em.

You can use ground beef, lamb, or a mixture of both. It's much too delicious, is easy to make-ahead, and would probably be great as pepper filling as well.
posted by mumkin at 10:21 PM on July 4, 2013

Seconding bechamel being a good call, but also fantastic is a traditional onion gravy. I like to spend closer to two hours browning off the onions (and I use a lot more than one onion), use butter instead of oil, and use a decent dark ale instead of red wine. Other than that, I can endorse that recipe. A touch of flour before adding the liquids can help if you want a thicker gravy, and depending on what you're using it for, adding some finely chopped green peppers in once the onions have wilted can be delicious too.
posted by Dysk at 4:16 AM on July 5, 2013

Ground beef sautéed with onions, pine nuts and cinnamon and nutmeg is an absolutely delightful filling for roasted red peppers and would make a nice filling for cabbage, too.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:04 AM on July 5, 2013

My personal (secret) recipe for Sloppy Joes is 1 lb ground beef, 1 can of tomato soup, and 1 can of Campbell's chicken gumbo soup, with some added spices of choice - I use a little garlic powder, oregano, and a basic Italian spice blend. Best ever. If they even exist, I'll often nuke the leftovers and eat them right out of the Tupperware, no bun necessary.
posted by SquidLips at 9:05 AM on July 5, 2013

taco beef - brown the ground beef, pour off all but @ 1 Tb of any grease. Push beef to the side of the pan. In the grease, brown @ 1 - 2 Tb flour. Add a bunch of chili powder. Add water, slowly, stirring, to make it as thick or thin as you like. We make this in a large batch for tacos, and use the rest for shepherd's pie, topping it with (1 can corn, drained + 1 can creamed corn, mixed together) then mashed potatoes. You can add cheese, jalapenos, etc., to the mashed potatoes, if you like.

Sometimes I fill corn tortillas with a mix of ground beef & salsa, and some lettuce.

If you have cheese that's gotten dried out, grate it up and add to ground beef, or add an envelope of the cheese powder from mac-n-cheese. I have those in my cupboard and no idea where they originated...

ramen noodle flavoring packets - add to ground beef, add some water.

I've cooked potatoes, cooked ground beef with onions and garlic, and added them together, sometimes adding curry spices. I like this combo better with ground turkey, but beef is good, too.

Yep, I used to be fairly broke, and had an adolescent to feed.
posted by theora55 at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2013

I made a nice thing the other week using beef mince, cumin, paprika, turmeric, onion, garlic, butter, sliced mushrooms and light evaporated milk (because I'm watching my figyer).

Take your time caramelising the onions in some oil and then add the garlic and butter. Combine and brown off the mince, spices and mushrooms. Season generously with cracked salt and pepper. After a bit, add the milk and reduce until creamy.

A bit of feta mixed in would probably work.

(My kids don't like hot foods so this why there's no heat factor involved, but this could easily be spiced up. Also, coconut cream or milk could be substituted for the evaporated milk).
posted by h00py at 7:08 AM on July 6, 2013

Wild Mushroom Sherry Cream Sauce
2 cups Heavy cream
3 tablespoons Fresh garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Cooking Sherry
1 cup Dried Wild Mushrooms, coarsley chopped

Add all ingredients to a heavy pan. Reduce or medium high heat until desired consistency is achieved (about half).
Blue cheese doesn't hurt either...mixed together with your cooked GB and the sauce.
posted by JABof72 at 10:48 AM on July 6, 2013

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