Ground Meat Treats
January 16, 2021 3:03 PM   Subscribe

What can I cook with 1 pound quantities of ground beef or ground pork that doesn’t use tomato sauce or hot/spicy ingredients and isn’t “heavy?”

I get meat monthly from a local CSA and have amassed too much 1 lb. frozen quantities of unseasoned ground beef and ground pork. I’m going through a bunch of GI issues right now and trying to avoid acids (if it were up to me I’d eat pasta and tomato sauce with cheese every day). My live-in partner usually make something Italian with all of our meat, but I currently can not tolerate most elements of Italian food (tomato sauce, heavy/fat/high meat ratio dishes). I tend toward Midwest Irish/Italian meals which seems to be causing me GI issues. I do like Asian, Indian, Mexican food but can not tolerate anything “spicy/hot” and generally am turned off by the long and exotic list of ingredients. I’m open to trying new cuisines but my favorite meal is a hotdog with cheese fries—bad, I know.

What can I make with this meat, knowing I have to defrost 1 lb. at a time and am serving two adults? Difficulty: Midwest USA, COVID causing me to limit grocery shopping to once/month, I live within a 30 minute walk of an Asian grocery, but have avoided it because it is small and crowded. Live in an apartment without a vent and cooking meat on the stove usually ends with a house full of smoke, which is why we’ve abandoned burgers.
posted by Bunglegirl to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
With the caveat that I'm vegetarian, maybe Japanese curry? Your local grocery might have the boxed cubes to make the sauce.
posted by pinochiette at 3:10 PM on January 16, 2021

Meatloaf? There are lots of recipes Without tomatoes.
posted by sacrifix at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

I love this ground beef and cabbage stir fry from Budget Bytes. It calls for 1/2 pound of ground beef, which is browned and tossed with stir fried cabbage, carrot, and green onion. The seasoning sauce calls for a little Sriracha, but you can leave that out and it will still be tasty. I’m not sure if you would consider soy sauce and sesame oil “exotic,” but they are stocked at my ordinary chain supermarket.
posted by little mouth at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best answer: One of my favourite one-pound-of-ground-meat dishes is these lettuce wraps. A couple of grocery-store Asian ingredients (ginger, hoisin sauce, water chestnuts). I usually make it with ground pork and reduce the Sriracha, although I have left it out entirely and it’s fine. To reduce the meatiness of the dish I always make rice noodles and use them in the wraps too. Super good, super easy, fun to eat!
posted by pocams at 3:12 PM on January 16, 2021 [9 favorites]

Shepherd's pie? There are a number of different variations available depending on what spice, vegetables, and potatoes/sweet potatoes you want to include.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 3:15 PM on January 16, 2021 [11 favorites]

Can coconut milk work, or is that too heavy? My favorite thing to do with ground beef is to make a very simple (not authentic) coconut curry with a pre-made curry paste (you should be able to find a mild one–I find I need to add spice to get it to my desired level). If I'm ambitious I add fresh vegetables, if not, just frozen spinach. Serve over rice or rice noodles.
posted by coffeecat at 3:18 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Vietnamese-style meatballs (I make mine with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander and grated carrot and courgette) are great. Tasty, freezable, versatile. I put mine in bahn mi rolls, stir fries etc.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:20 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hashweh is a great way to use ground beef. If you google, there are a lot of different recipes (that was just the first that came up). Sometimes it's called hashwi.

I have never actually used dried fruit in it, my version usually just relied on the spices, pine nuts, butter, and some onion. Oh, and good broth helps. I think it's perfect served with fattoush.

For ground pork, it's a little fussy and it's work, but I used almost all of my ground pork from my last CSA making dumplings. This is my go-to recipe. You can also just add spices to ground pork to make a good breakfast sausage, if you like that sort of thing.
posted by hought20 at 3:22 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

How about some sort of Italian wedding soup, like this one? You could vary the amount of meat you use, leave out ingredients like the pasta if it would make it too heavy, and still end up with a pretty tasty soup, I suspect.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:24 PM on January 16, 2021 [7 favorites]

Ants in Trees! It's not very spicy, but if you want to tone it off completely, you can omit the samba.
posted by General Malaise at 3:25 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: Meatballs are great (I’m making some right now!) because you can serve them in grains and greens and it’s a pretty light meal.

1 lb ground meat, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup panko or plain bread crumbs, and a variety of spices - I used 1/4-1/2 teaspoons of cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, but you can sub in any warm/earthy spices. Some salt and pepper. I roll them small and get about 35 from that amount, and bake them at 450 for 10 minutes or so.

Boil up some grains (bulgur tonight, and I’ve used barley, rice, and farro onions the past). Once they’re done, mix in 6-8 ounces of fresh spinach or whatever green you have around. I had some tomatoes and cukes on hand, so I cut those up and let them sit with some vinegar for a light pickle. Heartier greens take really well to this, because of the residual heat from the grains.

I’m making a tahini dressing, but you could use any dressing, or just some oil+vinegar+garlic.
posted by punchtothehead at 3:38 PM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding dumplings! I liked this recipe from Closet Cooking for jiaozi and this meat pierogi recipe from Polish Foodies is similar to my grandmother's. You can also add cabbage or sauerkraut to the pierogi filling.
posted by carrioncomfort at 3:38 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: A pound of ground pork in my house always turns into wonton meatballs. Inspired by this recipe, but pretty loosely because I never add the shrimp and often also leave out the mushrooms or just use whatever kind of mushroom I have on hand.

I also sometimes do a pork and cabbage stir-fry with garlic and ginger.
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2021

Are burgers heavy? Serve in iceberg lettuce leaves or smaller slider rolls.

Meatballs with a different sauce - maybe a mushroom gravy? Saute mushrooms, remove from pan, add 1 T butter/oil plus 1 T flour, stir few minutes, whisk in about 1 cup broth/water/bouillon, add mushrooms back to pan. Maybe add some baby spinach. Season the meat with salt and whatever spices, add some breadcrumbs or crumbled toast, maybe an egg, roll into 8 larger or 16 smaller meatballs, bake at 425 for 15-25 minutes (I bake until 180 internal temp though 165 is fine) then serve with mushroom gravy.

I love the idea of wedding soup from above. My favorite soup has sausage but no reason not to sub the meatballs. See Kenji's Portuguese soup on Serious Eats or Helen Rosner's Roberto soup (sub out the tomatoes for potatoes) or Gabrielle Hamilton's white borscht. Make the meatballs smaller and add them to the soup raw, simmer gently until done. Make sure to use good broth or bouillion.
posted by RoadScholar at 3:41 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: I'd try egg roll in a bowl; you can reasonably omit the sriracha; a couple of drops of the sesame oil is a nice finishing element but I suppose could be omitted if necessary.

If you can get your hands on fish sauce, I'd make larb, but I think it would be missing something if you don't have the fish sauce.

There are a number of styles of kebab with different seasonings; if you're feeling ambitious you could also make samosas.
posted by Superilla at 3:43 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Breakfast sausage is easy to make with ground pork and if you’re just having one little patty at a time maybe it wouldn’t count as “heavy”? It’s definitely not acidic or spicy. I use breakfast sausage seasoning from Penzey’s and the flavor is spot on. Just mix and cook. Easy.
posted by HotToddy at 3:45 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Meatballs. Made in a patty shape so they're easy to fry in a small amt of oil, and the form factor doesn't require a sauce. 1 lb of meat is plenty for dinner for two with leftovers. Sub zucchini for breadcrumbs if you want a low carb version. [edit: the stove issue is real, but you don't need high heat to fry meatballs. It shouldn't be anywhere near smoking.]
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2021

This is a very flexible chicken-broth-based meatball soup recipe - the mini-meatballs cook from raw in the soup broth. (It's fine to use only beef instead of the mix called for there.)

Skip anything you don't have, you can even swap the pasta for rice (just make rice on the side and stir in at the end) if you don't want the wheat, you can even leave the cheese out and it will be fine (though if you do that, maybe give it an extra pinch of salt). If you want it a little more substantial, chop some cabbage to your preferred size for spoon-eating and cook that in. Ditto mushrooms, a can of white beans or chickpeas, or lentils.

It's light, brothy, gentle, flexible, and if your partner does want to punch their serving up with hot sauce or heavier seasonings that's easy enough to do in their bowl.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Totchos. Like nachos but with tater tots instead of tortilla chips. But... you can vary the flavor; it doesn’t have to be Mexican. I make some that are cheddar/bacon/BBQ sauce and others that are Buffalo sauce and bourbon cheese. Any combo of tots, beef, cheese, and sauce works. So you could do Greek totchos with feta and tzatziki, or Caesar with shredded Parmesan and Caesar dressing. The possibilities are endless. It also works well for make-ahead. You can cook the beef and the tots and then portion them into baggies, and then add the toppings when it’s lunchtime and microwave.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:15 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

You can bake meatballs, by the way. WAY easier than fussing around with a pan, my only warning is make sure you are using a good strong lipped baking sheet (or even casserole dish) that will not pop or buckle in the oven. Meatballs in the oven give off a lot of goo, it will get sloshy in the pan, you want it sturdy when you're moving it out of the oven.

Alton Brown does his in a mini muffin tin, if you have one of those, but I find them a pain to clean compared to a sheet pan or casserole dish.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:16 PM on January 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to do burgers, I get pretty good results using the oven, with no smoke: mix meat & seasonings & an egg, rolled out on a sheet pan (1/2in thick), score, bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes. Optionally add sliced cheese and put back into the oven to melt. Slice into pieces and put on a bun.

You might also look into Cornish Pasties or Empanadas.
posted by miscbuff at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: Make little hand pies. Use pre-made pie dough, either plain pie dough or puff pastry.
Brown half of the meat, and set aside. Then gently cook an onion and a clove of garlic in oil. When the onion is clear, add all of the meat, fried and not fried. Add seasoning, salt, pepper and what you like, for the pork it might be sage and thyme. For the beef I recommend smoked paprika and oregano, but there are tons of options.
Now roll out your dough as thin as it will hold together and cut it into squares. Put a dollop of meat on each square and fold into a triangle or rectangle (lots of options here). Use a fork to seal the packages by pressing down the edges. Now you can deep fry, bake or poach your pies (well you can't poach puff pastry). If you poach them, they will be dumplings and can be served in a broth or with a sauce.
The pies/dumplings can be frozen and are excellent as homemade fast food.
I saw a recipe that used spring roll wrappers for this, and it looks like a very good idea, but I haven't tried it. If you use them, you can't seal them with a fork, you have to use a little egg or milk for the edges. Obviously, you could make spring rolls, too.
I love pie. And of all pies I love shepherd's pie the most. This recipe might suit you. You can absolutely leave out the cheese and the tomato paste. I never use cheese in my pie, and I only use tomato paste if I have a tube in the fridge. The vegetables lighten it up a lot and are good for you.
Come to think of it, maybe you should try making a European style lasagna. It might be much easier on your digestion. There is much less tomato in the original recipe, and also much less cheese.
posted by mumimor at 4:58 PM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

My go-to for the ridiculous amount of ground beef I have also acquired from my CSA is Joe's Special. You can find recipes online, but the basic gist is just combining the beef with spinach and eggs like so:
In a very large pan...
Fry onions, if you got em, and thawed beef, stir around until beef is mostly cooked
Add 1lb fresh or about 1/2-1lb frozen spinach and cook until wilted and hot
Push everything to the edges, reduce heat and crack 3-5 eggs into center. You shouldn't need oil, but if your beef is very lean you might!
Add a pinch of nutmeg. Mix just the eggs quickly and cook until mostly set.
(At this point, you usually add between 1/2 tsp to 1Tbl tabasco, but if even a very small amount of hot sauce is off the table, a small splash of vinegar, whatever type you have but I prefer seasoned rice vinegar, will do)
Quickly fold everything together and cook another 5-6 min, until everything is hot and fully cooked.

This is tastier than it has any right to be, given the simplicity of the ingredients, is nice in tortillas, on top of rice, or even alone, and isn't as heavy as most beefy dishes (though it is comfortably filling for relatively cheap)
posted by zinful at 5:01 PM on January 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Kofte kebabs are basically meatball skewers that you could make with either beef or pork or a mix of the two. You don't have to make them on skewers, you could just form logs of meat and pan fry or bake them. A recipe might give you different spicing options you could serve over couscous or rice pilaf with some chopped cucumber and onion and a tahini dressing or other garnish. (I've never actually made them myself so I have no recipe to offer.)
posted by cabingirl at 5:05 PM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Do you like mushrooms? A mushroom sauce can be swapped in for tomato sauce in a lot of classics to lower the acidity. Of course it won’t be the same but it will still be comforting and scrumptious. For example, mushroom gravy on meatloaf, or a mushroom and pork lasagna, or mushrooms and caramelized onions on a meatball sandwich.

For a good base, rehydrate dried mushrooms overnight, chop into bits, save and strain the soaking liquid. Slice a whole bunch of fresh mushrooms, mince some garlic and a little onion. Put the onions and garlic in a good amount of oil to brown, once you have some color in the pan and have flavored the oil scoop them out so they don’t burn, set aside. Get the mushrooms in. They will soak up the oil really fast but give it time and they will release their liquid back out. Let that all cook off uncovered until the liquid has stopped evaporating and the mushrooms start to brown. Toss in the rehydrated bits and the garlic and onion as well as the strained mushroom soaking liquid, some salt and pepper, and liquid to cover, I like chicken stock but you can do whatever including like, a beer, or some rehydrated bouillon or just salted water. Keep it plain though because this is a base. Cook it covered for a while until everything has mingled and gotten all thoroughly broken down. Then you can cook uncovered to reduce until it’s pretty chunky, taste for salt, and jar or freeze as you like.

Then you can adjust it for your purpose. For a meatloaf gravy for example, make a roux and add the mushroom base to the roux to thicken it. For a condiment add some tangy malted vinegar after heating through. For a soup you can blend it and mix with cream and herbs. For lasagna sauce you can loosen it up with some milk or even ricotta and thawed spinach for more veggies. Add to steak tips, noodles, sour cream and peas for a sort of stroganoff thing. But really, it just goes fantastically with ground beef or pork in pretty much any combination.
posted by Mizu at 5:41 PM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you feel like making dough, empanadas de pino might work.

Ground beef fried rice was a childhood staple of mine. Teriyaki (or soy sauce, ideally with something a little tangy like fish sauce or oyster sauce), something sweet (like pineapple, raisins), rice, and any vegetables you have lying around is more or less the recipe. I can't say I've made it since leaving home, but I remember nearly everyone liking it.
posted by eotvos at 5:47 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I grew up eating a ground beef and raisin lumpia, among more traditional varieties. It’s your basic egg roll and I usually flavor with salt and perhaps a bit of garlic powder. Good with dipping sauces too.

As a kid, my mom had some old Weight Watchers recipes and one we actually liked was ground beef mixed with corn niblets and onion, salt, etc that I loved as a kid. We served it over rice. It’s a good “I don’t want to really cook” meal.

I’ve also been doing a lot of ground beef seasoned with za'atar - great in a pita with olives and feta.
posted by PussKillian at 5:48 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hamburger soup along these lines (omit tomatoes in your case) is comforting and stupid easy without being heavy. You can use fresh vegetables and switch things up to match what you have on hand, but it's also just fine with frozen or canned mixed veggies. For the pork I would suggest a skillet stir-fry with cabbage and apples, something along these lines.
posted by drlith at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2021

You're going to think I'm crazy, but a stir fry of veggies with a mixture of ground pork and tofu has the effect of lightening the meal quite a bit.

Stir fries are easy to make with lots of different veggies. Use whatever you have around or get a "stir fry mix" bag from your produce section. Pan fry the meat and cubed, drained extra firm tofu together first, then remove those from your skillet and add veggies in stages, with sauce. It's quick (once you've chopped everything), and you control the lightness of the meal by the ratio of veggies to meat.

Cook denser veggies like carrots, onions, celery, broccoli, etc. a few minutes longer than softer veggies like zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, snow peas, etc. Leafy greens and anything delicate goes in last -- think spinach, green onions, etc., and only stays in a minute or two. Pour in some sauce with each batch of veggies, to coat and cover without being deep enough to get soupy.

You can use a teriyaki sauce from a bottle. Most grocery stores have them, and they're never spicy. You can also mix your own sauce. Try soy + ginger + rice vinegar + honey + lemon. Serve over rice. This dish is my idea of comfort food.
posted by nadise at 7:46 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Braised Tofu & Pork. A Chinese friend introduced me to this as a comfort food and my husband with an easily irritated stomach eats it no problem. All ingredients can be bought at your local supermarket and you probably have them in your house already. The pork kind of acts like a sauce for the tofu making it nice & light. I will usually fry up some veggie to go with it in another pan, Bok Choy goes great with it.
posted by wwax at 8:05 PM on January 16, 2021


I use yogurt instead of sour cream and never have cream cheese around either. Add peas.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:21 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not the healthiest, but Hamburger Helper? The cheeseburger macaroni and three cheese versions are great guilty pleasures of mine, and each box gets made with 1 lb of ground beef. If you pair it with a green salad on the side it feels less heavy, though I don't know if the cheese would still be a bad idea in your case.
posted by sigmagalator at 9:07 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have a ground pork meal that is reasonably healthy and 5 ingredients. I actually wonder if I saw it on here first?

1lb ground pork, 1lb frozen spinach (chopped, whole leaf, whatever), 3-4 tbsp soy sauce, .5-1 tbsp sesame oil. The fifth ingredient is to make steamed rice. But nearly any asian-ish noodle should work. Use less soy/sesame if you use ramen.

Defrost the spinach (I just warm it in the microwave) and squeeze out the excess water. Set aside.
Mix pork, soy sauce, and sesame oil well.
Brown pork in a pan with a bit of oil, making sure to crumble it up.
A moment before the pork is done through, mix in the spinach, and cook together for about a minute.
Serve over white rice.

Good for cold weather - covers you for protein, starch and veg. The pork/spinach is salty which makes it heavenly with rice. You can add spice, sesame seeds, green onion, water chestnuts, or even a bit of shaved carrots, but even the basic version tastes pretty great, is decently healthy, is stupid fast to make, and stores well as leftovers.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 10:05 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: Meat soboro - it's designed to be more of a condiment for rice and other grains than a "big chunk of meat" meal, it freezes right back, and the most exotic ingredient is sake. Which can easily be swapped for a not-too-sweet sherry.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:05 AM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Porcupine meatballs. There are a lot of good recipes online.
posted by SillyShepherd at 6:37 AM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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